Since her first day in office, Ayanna has been unwavering and unapologetic in her advocacy on behalf of girls and women. She has been fighting to dismantle barriers to their development and advancement, and to address those issues that disproportionately and adversely impact them - issues often ignored in city halls and state houses across the nation.
Her first official action as a City Councilor was to create and chair the Committee on Healthy Women, Families and Communities. It was the first time in the Council’s history a full committee was focused on issues such as intimate partner and sexual violence, trafficking and exploitation, teen pregnancy, and sexual health education in Boston’s high schools.
In perhaps her most prominent policy victory, Ayanna spearheaded passage of the Boston Public Schools first-ever sex education and condom availability policy. Ayanna built a broad and diverse coalition that spent three years successfully pushing school officials to adopt a comprehensive policy that ensures students receive age and medically appropriate instruction that is culturally competent, LGBTQ-sensitive and focused on building healthy relationships. Their advocacy paid off, and in 2013, Boston unveiled a health and wellness policy that requires sex education and condom availability.
In addition to her work on sex education, Ayanna has:
- Led efforts to update the Boston Public Schools’ policy on expectant and parenting teens to ensure a pathway to graduation and the strongest possible support for the parent(s) and child;
- Partnered with her colleagues in government, including former Attorney General Martha Coakley and the Boston Police Department to change the approach to combating human trafficking by focusing law enforcement efforts on those who prey and profit from exploiting girls and women;
- Convened hearings on sexual assault and worked alongside advocates to push local colleges and universities to reform their policies and provide victims with more support services;
- Established the annual “Jump into Peace” double-dutch event to foster peace, forge sisterhood bonds, build community and promote fitness for girls across the city.
Ayanna has also shared her experience as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault as a college student. She knows personally the lifelong trauma associated with sexual violence. She established and convenes an annual Raise Your Voice Day of Empowerment for Sexual Assault Survivors and their Allies that brings residents, police, and community organizations together for a day of empowerment and education to support healing and to create a zero tolerance culture when it comes to rape; and