News

World Autism Awareness Day

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and heightened glaring inequalities around the world, especially when it comes to income and wealth distribution, access to health care, protection under the law, and political inclusion. Persons with autism have long faced many of these inequalities, which have only been further exacerbated by the pandemic. It’s a problem made worse by long  recognized discriminatory hiring practices and workplace environments that present major obstacles for persons with autism; all of which contribute to the unemployment or severe underemployment of a large majority of adults on the autism spectrum.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders at the United Nations in 2015 provide a blueprint for addressing the major challenges facing the world, including strategies for reducing inequalities that hinder prosperity for people and the planet. One of the aims of Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG 8) – Decent Work and Economic Growth – is to promote full and productive employment and decent work for all, including persons with disabilities. Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also recognizes “the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others,” and to a “work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.”

Some employers have recently launched inclusive employment programmes, which  accommodate people with diagnoses of autism and related conditions, such as ADHD, OCD, etc., often referred to as neurodivergent persons. Based on the experience gained from these programmes, and motivated by the desire to both be socially responsible and to gain a competitive advantage by benefitting from the skills and abilities of a more diverse talent pool, an increasing number of employers are now creating  models to make the workplace and hiring practices more inclusive generally.

The pandemic has undoubtedly impacted the efforts of companies to implement these new models, at a time when the international economy is undergoing the worst economic recession since the great depression, with the loss of hundreds of millions of jobs. At the same time, new ways of working, including remote working and the use of new technologies, have created opportunities for employees on the autism spectrum that previously found it difficult to thrive in traditional workplace environments.

The 2021 World Autism Awareness Day observance will address these issues through a virtual event that will include moderated panel discussions with individuals on the autism spectrum who have themselves experienced the challenges and seen these new opportunities in the employment market.”

More Information From the United Nations on World Autism Awareness Day

BCHRAC Condemns Violence Against AAPI Community

The Barnstable County Human Rights Advisory Commission (BCHRAC) joins community organizations here on Cape Cod and across the nation in condemning violence against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. The recent violence in Georgia targeted Asian-owned businesses and lead to the death of eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent. These acts of hate and violence must be denounced and condemned, especially when used to create an atmosphere of fear in others, based on race, color, religious creed, gender, national origin, or orientation. BCHRAC acknowledges and is thankful for the contributions of the AAPI community here on Cape Cod. BCHRAC will continue to work to promote and protect the human rights of all persons in Barnstable County.

Learn About The Common Start Legislation

“The Common Start legislation, HD.1960 (filed by Representatives Gordon & Madaro) & SD.1307 (filed by Senators Lewis & Moran), would establish a universal system of affordable, high-quality early education and child care for all Massachusetts families, over a 5-year timeline. This universal system would cover early education and care for children from birth through age 5, as well as after- and out-of-school time for children ages 5-12, and for children with special needs through age 15.

Programs would be available in early education and child care centers, private homes, and schools – the same settings where early education and child care is provided now. The bill provides a framework to increase the scope of public investment in early education and child care with an incremental roll-out over 5 years that prioritizes the lowest-income, highest-need families.

The Common Start legislation would dramatically increase the affordability and quality of early education and child care for all Massachusetts families. The bill’s framework uses a combination of direct-to-provider funding and ongoing family financial assistance to reduce costs to families while compensating providers for the true cost of providing quality care.”

More Information On The Common Start Legislation

Common Start Virtual Rally on 3/16

“Come hear about how this will help children, families, early educators, providers, businesses, and the economy; straight from the stakeholders and legislative leaders! And, learn more about how YOU can help put Massachusetts on a five-year pathway to universal, high-quality early education and care.

RSVP today at this link and make sure to share this with your friends and family! Together, we can ensure that all families have the care solutions they need and that all children in the Commonwealth have the same, strong start.”

More Details on Common Start’s Virtual Event

Barnstable County Board of Regional Commissioners Appoint New County Administrator

For Immediate Release

March 10, 2021

First female at the helm in Barnstable County

(Barnstable, MA) — The Barnstable County Board of Regional Commissioners voted today to appoint Elizabeth Albert to the Barnstable County Administrator position following the departure of Jack Yunits, Jr.

Ms. Albert, who served as Director of the Department of Human Services since 2008, will be the first woman in the history of Barnstable County to serve in this key leadership role. Among her duties as Barnstable County Administrator will be contract negotiations and oversight over all county departments.

“Beth’s work ethic and integrity, along with her leadership ability and governmental experience, make her an ideal fit for the position of County Administrator,” Chairman Ronald Bergstrom said. “I am certain that she’ll do an excellent job for the administration and the residents of Barnstable County.”

As Director of the Department of Human Services, Ms. Albert has been responsible for administering millions of dollars annually in federal and state grant resources to undertake regional planning, coordination, and implementation of health and human service programs and initiatives. She has also served as Chair and Co-Chair to numerous advisory councils and committees having a diverse array of health and social services policy and advocacy issues.

Before her role at the County, she was the Executive Director at the Fair Housing Rights Center of Southeastern Pennsylvania, an organization designated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (H.U.D.) and high-performing federally qualified fair housing rights center serving Southeastern Pennsylvania. During her tenure, the organization secured hundreds of reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and successfully advocated and obtained relief for victims of housing discrimination.

Ms. Albert earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Work (B.S.W.) from James Madison University in Virginia and master’s degree in Policy and Social Administration (M.S.W.) from Temple University in Pennsylvania. She resides with her husband in the town of Dennis.

“I am happy to accept the position of Barnstable County Administrator, “said Albert. “I have devoted my career to tackling complex health and human service issues through collaboration and mobilizing multi-sector responses. I will take this same approach in working on the important regional issues facing Barnstable County. I look forward to working with the County Commissioner’s, the Assembly of Delegates, and all county employees. Thank you to Jack Yunits for his dedication over the past five years and for the support he has offered to ensure a smooth transition. I am committed to doing my best to serve the residents of Barnstable County.”

Residents can watch the Barnstable County Regional Board of Commissioners meeting at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVYgttdE7dE. For additional information on Barnstable County, visit the County webpage at https://www.barnstablecounty.org/or follow Barnstable County on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/barnstablecounty/or Twitter at https://twitter.com/CapeCodGov

Press Contact: Sonja Sheasley, Communications Manager | (508) 375-6896 | Sonja.sheasley@barnstablecounty.org

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International Women’s Day 2021

“There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.”

-W.E.B. Du Bois

Every day is a day to celebrate female leaders who have paved the way to where we are today. Glass ceilings have been shattered and will continue to be in the future. This would not be possible without all of the grandmothers, mothers, aunts, daughters, sisters, and friends who continue to fight for equality across the world. Thank you for all of your tireless work, it does not go unnoticed!

International Mother Language Day 2021

“Safeguarding Linguistic Diversity 

Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development, are of strategic importance for people and planet. Yet, due to globalization processes, they are increasingly under threat, or disappearing altogether. When languages fade, so does the world’s rich tapestry of cultural diversity. Opportunities, traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking and expression — valuable resources for ensuring a better future — are also lost. 

At least 43% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world. 

International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. 

Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue. 

Every two weeks a language disappears taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage. 

Linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. Globally 40 per cent of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. Nevertheless, progress is being made in mother tongue-based multilingual education with growing understanding of its importance, particularly in early schooling, and more commitment to its development in public life. 

Multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages which transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way.” 

Learn More About International Mother Language Day From The UN

World Day of Social Justice 2021

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Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality, or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability. 

For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of our global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN System’s commitment to social justice. The Declaration focuses on guaranteeing fair outcomes for all, through employment, social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental principles and rights at work. 

Learn More About World Day of Social Justice From The UN

Read about 2020’s special award winners who are working tirelessly to address civil and human rights issues through a variety of different initiatives here!

Announcing New Leadership for the Human Rights Advisory Commission

(Barnstable, MA-February 11, 2021) -The Barnstable County Human Rights Advisory Commission has new leadership for 2021. Dr. Kate Epperly, who was the immediate past Vice Chair to the Board, was voted in as Chair. Advisory member, Patricia Oshman, was elected to Vice-Chair.

Rev. Dr. Kate Epperly A lifelong community organizer and human rights advocate, Rev. Dr. Kate Epperly is an ordained pastor who has served congregations in California, Arizona, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. She retired in January after serving 7 years as Minister for Advocacy and Justice for Families and Children of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination.

Rev. Dr. Epperly served 3 years as Minister of Christian Union Church in North Truro, served as Coordinator of the Cape Cod Fellowship of Reconciliation, and was active in the Nauset Interfaith Association and its Refugee Support Team. Rev. Dr. Epperly currently serves on the Steering Committee of Barnstable No Place for Hate, and the Cape Cod Council of Churches Migrant and Refugee Committee. She is a member of the Cape Cod Grandmother’s Against Gun Violence, the Cape Cod NAACP, and the Cape Women’s Coalition and PEO Chapter AL.

 

Patricia (Trish) Oshman Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Vice-Chair Patricia Oshman came to the U.S. in 2001. After studying Law and Economy at 2 Brazilian Universities, she received a B.A. from Curry College in 2013. Trish taught Portuguese at Falmouth High School and currently teaches at Mass Maritime Academy. She works as a shelter advocate at Independence House in Hyannis. A community activist, Trish developed a Portuguese enrichment program at East Falmouth elementary school. She is co-chair of Falmouth’s Affirmative Action and Diversity committee and sits on the Board of the Cape Cod Cape Verdean Museum and Cultural Center, a 501(C)(3) that disseminates knowledge about Cape Verdean and broader Lusophone culture.

Oshman helps organize the annual Human Rights Academy that brings students together to heighten awareness of human rights issues and encourage participation in their own schools’ projects promoting human rights. Each of the fall and spring Academy gatherings attract approximately 100 Cape-wide high school students.

 

ABOUT THE BARNSTABLE COUNTY HUMAN RIGHTS ADVISORY COMMISSION: The mission of the Human Rights Advisory Commission is to promote equal opportunity for all persons of Barnstable County regardless of race, color, religious creed, national origin, gender, age, ancestry, sexual or affectional preference marital, family or military status, source of income, neighborhood or disability, where unlawful discrimination exists in housing, employment, education, public accommodations, town or county services, insurance, banking, credit and health care. Learn more at https://www.barnstablecountyhrac.org/

 

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International Day of Women and Girls in Science

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Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a lot of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science. Yet women and girls continue to be excluded from participating fully in science. 

At present, less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women. According to UNESCO data (2014 – 2016), only around 30 per cent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. Globally, female students’ enrolment is particularly low in ICT (3 per cent), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5 per cent) and in engineering, manufacturing and construction (8 per cent). 

Long-standing biases and gender stereotypes are steering girls and women away from science related fields. As in the real world, the world on screen reflects similar biases—the 2015 Gender Bias Without Borders study by the Geena Davis Institute showed that of the onscreen characters with an identifiable STEM job, only 12 per cent were women. 

In order to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/70/212 declaring 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.” 

Learn More About International Day of Women and Girls in Science From The UN