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Health & Science

Cleveland City Council creates commission on Black women and girls

Project Noir Testimony City Council
Stephanie Czekalinski
/
Ideastream Public Media
Bethany Studenic and Chinenye "ChiChi" Nkemere, co-founders of Enlightened Solutions, testified during a Cleveland City Council Committee hearing Monday in support of the new commission. Their research has shown that many Black women in Northeast Ohio face harassment, discrimination and abuse in health care, education and the workplace, they said.

On Monday evening, Cleveland City Council unanimously passed legislation to create the Cleveland Commission on Black Women and Girls.

The commission will improve the quality of life for Black women and girls by advocating for programs and legislation that strengthen families and communities, according to a media release from Cleveland City Council.

The commission’s creation comes after a livability index from CityLab ranked Cleveland as one of the worst places for Black women to live. The index took into account income status, health conditions and educational accomplishments in metropolitan areas with more than 100,000 Black women residents.

“This is real progress toward freeing Black women from so many dead-ends in their lives,” said Councilwoman Deborah Gray, a co-sponsor of the ordinance. “I see this Commission as a historical step toward empowering Black women and girls who for so long have been denied so much.”

The commission will be made up of 14 members, including Black women and girls representing the faith community, corporate Cleveland, higher education, social services, labor, education and local grassroots organizations, as well as a medical doctor and a representative from the mayor's office and the Cleveland City Council, the release said.

It will advise the mayor and city council and make recommendations to address systemic issues, the release said.

The current legislation does not provide funding for the commission, but that could change over time, said Blaine Griffin, Cleveland City Council President and Ward 6 Councilman.

“With the commission of Black women and girls, there will come a time when there will be funding and other things that we would need to put forth in order to deal with it,” he said.

The commission will not receive funding until workflow, leadership and objectives are in place, Griffin explained.

The commission will also establish a girls’ subcommittee that will identify and explore solutions to obstacles Black girls are facing in schools and the city, the release said.