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"Know Your Rights" The Women's Economic Summit 2016

The Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund was featured at the Women’s Economic Summit hosted by Hartford City Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez this past weekend. The summit, which highlighted women’s legal rights in the workplace, also featured Dr. Louise Simmons of the CT Center for a New Economy, the CT Alliance for Basic Human Needs (CABHN), and Sue Garten of Greater Hartford Legal Aid

Erin Dunn, Maddie Granato and Nilda Rivera

Left to right: CWEALF's Policy Intern Erin Dunn, Policy Associate Maddie Granato, and

Bilingual Community Advocate Nilda Rivera


Following an introduction by the Councilwoman Bermudez and her fellow councilwomen, attendees of the summit also heard from a local spoken word poet, as well as Dr. Simmons, who introduced the summit’s topics for discussion. One particularly moving segment of the summit was hearing the stories of Connecticut women who faced barriers to economic opportunity and security, including obstacles such as the wage gap and lack of paid family leave.  These women contributed accounts of their experiences to the Women’s Economic Agenda for Hartford booklet, produced by the Working Families Party. Listening to the stories, I was struck by how I connected to these women’s experiences, particularly in hearing about the struggles of a working student struggling to be able to put her full focus on education and still stay afloat. I was inspired by the ability of these women to face these challenges and use their voices to advocate for better, more supportive policies. I truly realized the importance of knowing one’s rights and using one’s voice, as well as the key impact of CWEALF’s legal education and advocacy work. 

For the latter half of the summit, attendees were split into two smaller groups to hear from CWEALF, CABHN, and Greater Hartford Legal Aid. These smaller groups allowed for greater discussion of specific legal rights issues, particularly highlighting issues that contribute to women’s economic inequality. The discussion-based presentations facilitated greater group involvement, questions, consciousness-raising, and the sharing of personal stories and experiences.

 CWEALF’s Bilingual Community Advocate, Nilda Rivera, spoke with the group regarding pregnancy discrimination under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It is important for worker’s to know their workplace rights regarding pregnancy, pregnancy leave, and the job-protected unpaid leave provided by the FMLA and the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave law. Discrimination because of pregnancy is considered sex discrimination and is illegal

Nilda Rivera

 CWEALF’s Bilingual Community Advocate, Nilda Rivera taking questions from attendees.


To learn more about legal rights in the workplace, including pregnancy discrimination, you can call CWEALF’s Information and Referral (I&R) line at 800-479-2949 Mondays-Thursdays from 9-2 and Fridays from 9-1. One-on-one meetings are also available with Nilda at the Hartford Public Library on Tuesdays from 4-6pm, or by appointment at our Hartford office.

CWEALF’s Policy Associate, Maddie Granato, led the discussion regarding the Connecticut Campaign for Paid Family Leave.  The lack of paid family leave serves as a significant barrier to the economic prosperity of Connecticut working women and families. The proposed Connecticut paid leave law would allow covered employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave within a 12 month period, receiving 100% of their weekly earnings up to $1,000 per week. This paid leave would help keep families on the path to economic success just when they need it most: when recovering from a serious illness, caring for a new baby, or caring for a sick family member. 

Maddie Granato

Hartford City Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez and CWEALF Policy Associate Maddie Granato


To support the Campaign for Paid Family Leave and promote women’s economic success, check us out at, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest updates. You can also get involved by sharing your personal story to our story bank, or contributing to the Campaign’s Photo Campaign.

The Women’s Economic Summit facilitated fantastic discussion on important issues facing Connecticut women and families. Thank you to Councilwomen Wildaliz Bermudez for hosting, and supporting working families! #WomensSummit2016 #KnowYourRights #PaidFamilyLeaveforCT


Erin Dunn is a Policy Intern with the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, entering her junior year at the University of Connecticut.

By Erin Dunn, Policy Intern at 17 Aug 2016, 09:49 AM



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