Later this month, the 29th session of the Hawaii state Legislature begins. Here at YWCA O’ahu, this means a dynamic time of opportunity and change. As advocates for women and girls, we work with legislators and community groups to create positive, systemic changes. Our work spans all levels-federal, state, city and county- and across many areas.
This session, our priority is our Work Furlough resolution. The resolution encourages the Department of Public Safety to continue and expand community-based work furlough programs for women in Hawai‘i. As the sole community-based work furlough program for women in the state, we understand the need to increase this opportunity for women and the positive benefits participation brings to the community.
Our Ka Hale Ho‘āla Hou No Nā Wāhine (The Home of Reawakening for Women) program helps women transition from incarceration to the community. The day our program became operational in July 2015, we were at capacity with a waiting list of participants. Both our experience and national research show that graduates of work furlough programs have lower recidivism rates and are a better investment of public funds.
YWCA Oahu’s Advocacy Coordinator Kathleen Algire expanded on the importance of the program, "What we do at the YWCA makes a tangible difference in the lives of women. For instance, our work furlough program supports women in a way that they would not get otherwise. It supports them holistically as an individual, it gives them the tools and opportunities to succeed and offers a better chance, for not only themselves, but also their families, for their children and even their grandchildren.”
Additionally, we will support the legislative package put together by the Women’s Caucus, which will be announced at our annual Women’s Legislative Caucus Breakfast on Thursday, Jan. 26. We work closely with the members of the Women’s Coalition to support initiatives that benefit women and families in our state. “We know that when women succeed, that their communities succeed, and if you want to invest in the community, a great place to start is by investing in women. And so when we do our advocacy here at the YWCA, that’s our focus. We focus on empowering women and girls because we know that the results are going to be positive for everyone,” Algire said.