(Y)WCA Women as agents of change
Photo from the Idaho Statesman, March 19, 1974. Joyce Stein presenting to the Boise School Board about sexism in the schools.
As we come to the end of Women’s History Month, I want to take another page out of our (Y)WCA history book, which highlights the difference that women have made and continue to make in our community.
In 1968, the YWCA opened the first tuition-free kindergarten in Boise, serving families whose income was less than $4,000 per year for a family of four. Beth Sterling, one particular mother who sought a program for her young daughter, persuaded the Boise YWCA to sponsor the program. Research coming from the YWCA’s kindergarten program supplemented lobbying efforts to establish public kindergarten as a part of the state education system, which the state finally did in 1975.\
Reflecting on the impact one person can make in a community—just think about the fact that we now have kindergarten available throughout our public school system thanks to the vision of one woman and the support she received from the YWCA.
Joyce Stein was another woman who significantly impacted our community through her work with the YWCA. In fact, she was the founding member and first director of the Women’s Center, which opened in the basement of the building located at 720 W. Washington Street. This group, led by Stein, embarked on a community study of the effects of sexism in Boise. The results of this study were presented to the Boise School Board, highlighting the difference in careers that were presented to young men versus those presented to young women. In addition, the study came to the conclusion that domestic violence was a prevalent problem in Boise. This led to the organization’s focus on the work that continues today at the WCA.
It is no wonder that the highest award presented by the WCA’s Board of Directors each year is named in Stein’s honor: the Joyce Stein Award. During April, we will begin accepting nominations of individuals that deserve to be recognized for the positive impact they have made on the growth and advancement of women. The nominees can be individuals, businesses or organizations. What distinguishes them is not their title or office but their effort on behalf of women. Start thinking about who you may want to nominate!
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