NOW Blames 'Ultra-Conservatives' For Ireland YWCA Ouster

Christine Hall | Senior Staff Writer | Friday, October 24, 2003

NOW Blames 'Ultra-Conservatives' For Ireland YWCA Ouster

( - "Feminists across the country are outraged that ultraconservative attacks could have resulted in former NOW President Patricia Ireland's recent dismissal as the CEO of the YWCA," said current National Organization for Women (NOW) President Kim Gandy.

"Ultraconservative groups slammed the YWCA for hiring a strong supporter of women's rights," Gandy alleged. She also blasted the Bush Administration as acting "in concert" with "these bullies" at the conservative Traditional Values Coalition to remove Ireland.

The YWCA in public statements has neither confirmed nor denied speculation that Ireland's termination after just six months on the job was the result of a groundswell of objection from YWCA donors and conservative groups. Instead, the 144-year-old Young Women's Christian Association has said that Ireland's firing was a private personnel matter and that she was not a good fit for the post of chief executive officer.

"It is our belief that in order for the YWCA to continue to carry out its mission of empowering women and girls throughout the world, a change needed to be made," read an earlier statement from the YWCA.

Gandy indicated she was particularly incensed by the activities of the Traditional Values Coalition, which had led a petition drive against Ireland.

"The so-called Traditional Values Coalition [asked] Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson to consider cutting off $114 million in grants going to local YWCAs," said Gandy.

But "without federal grants, local associations would be hard pressed to continue providing quality child care to working moms and domestic violence services to women who are abused," Gandy said. "These women, who need the YWCA the most, would be devastated.

Gandy warned that the "internal independence" and free speech of groups like the YWCA, the Girl Scouts, the Red Cross and others will be threatened by the "chilling warning" of "the right wing." See earlier story.
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