The Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) was established in the United States just prior to the Civil War and just around the time that Utah’s pioneers settled these valleys – and at a time when the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, altering the family unit forever.
America needed the YWCA in 1858. The Industrial Revolution, as much as any other historic influence, challenged traditional family structures. Factory life urbanized the nation and encouraged women out of the home. Men, women and children spent their days apart and evenings exhausted, recovering from being apart. Women were spread thin – physically, emotionally and economically.
The YWCA stepped in to help women. Its community centers became safe refuges and its programs educated women to assume leadership in a rapidly changing world. But then something changed for the YWCA. It went from a charitable refuge to a politicized advocacy group. It went from doing everything it could to keep families together to advocating for women’s rights that often subordinate family and the common good.
Its modern mission statement sounds like any other liberal group: “The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.” Today, the YWCA specifically emphasizes better lives “for all women” (progressive code for feminism) and proudly admits that “…we have changed as women have changed, as the needs of our families have changed, and as our world has changed.”
So it’s unsurprising to read a new study promoted by the YWCA about the plight of women in Utah. The “Well-Being of Women in Utah” report is the statistics of feminism and, like every other left-leaning analysis about anything, the report focuses on what’s wrong with Utah and not what is exceptionally right. For the uninitiated, you correctly read a progressive study in reverse – from the recommendations backward – to understand what is really being said.
In this case, the YWCA’s “Well-Being of Women in Utah” report recommends that Utah public policy “ensure access to quality and affordable health care,” strengthen efforts to prevent “violence against women,” “increase supports” for higher education, give women preferential treatment to close the “gender wage gap,” increase “work-family supports” for single moms and “women of color,” and, of course, support Utah organizations that “provide networking and training” for women in politics.
It’s easy to breakdown these politicized studies. For progressives, the height of human dignity is found independent of faith, family and community experiences. Women only have dignity outside of the confines of faith and family. That’s a progressive credo. The truth is that authentic dignity for men, women and children – everyone – only exists inside the constructs of faith and family and every constructively binding human institution.
Men, women and children across the board are better off in Utah than in most places. Utah is exceptional for women, and the women for whom it’s not currently exceptional can find refuge in the original charitable purposes of the YWCA, not its currently politicized mission.
For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.
This post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.
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