Maui becomes first county in the U.S. to pass a feminist economic recovery plan

MAUI, HI — Last Friday, Maui became the first county in the U.S. to pass the first legislation that commits to a feminist economic recovery plan amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The plan calls for putting women at the center of planning and ensuring that the distribution of funds and economic recovery planning values women and the work that they do, which would call for a restructuring of our systems,” said Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, council vice-chair.

The coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted Hawaii, leading to job loss for a third of the state’s population. Among the most vulnerable are women of color.

“80% of Filipinos in Hawaii are living paycheck to paycheck and 85% of them are Pinay, they’re Filipino women. And so this is a plan that seeks to support women to get back their jobs, to be able to get better paying jobs, to have access to reproductive healthcare, to have access to childcare and not have to take on that burden. And it just fully addresses all of the vulnerable populations, not just men and not in a gender blind way for Hawaii,” said Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women.

Over 60 organizations and individuals testified in support of the legislation, sharing their struggles since the pandemic hit the Aloha state.

“I saw its effects in my own workplace and I work at a title nine school. So a lot of the students and their families are working class, you know, in the service industry in the hotels and knowing a lot of people lost their jobs. And how are you supposed to talk about our future when a lot of the options are really scary and unstable,” said Ashley Galacgac, community supporter.

The legislation recognizes the lack of gender equity and feminist analysis throughout local government recovery planning for COVID-19.”

Maui’s feminist economic recovery plan is the first of its kind to cover individuals of every background in a range of situations.

“Being economically insecure for women is really dangerous. That means that we might be stuck in abusive situations, vulnerable to sex trafficking, to exploitation, to abusive men. And this is really concerning to me. I’m really proud that we did this though,” said Jabola-Carolus. “You know, I’m never dissatisfied with progress in the feminist movement, and I’m really proud for Filipinas that we have a voice in this.”

The legislation also addresses the issue of anti-blackness being systemic in Hawaii and also focuses on finding solutions to anti-gay and anti-transgender sentiments.

This recovery plan, also known as ‘Building Bridges, Not Walking on Backs of Feminists,’ was created through a collaborative process with the community, in a matter of two months.

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