Monthly Archives: March 2017

7 posts

ERA Yes!

A statement by national NOW President Terry O’Neill:

History was made in Nevada yesterday.

The Nevada Assembly’s vote to make Nevada the 36th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment is a ringing declaration of support for the explicit guarantee of constitutional rights for women. The failure of the framers to include women in our nation’s founding documents is a constitutional failure that has long demanded correction. That’s why the National Organization for Women has made it an essential part of our mission since 1976 to ratify the ERA.

Now, ratification in just two additional states can meet the requirement of 38 states needed to put the ERA in the Constitution. Equality in pay, job opportunities, political structure, education, health care (including reproductive health care), and education–in particular for women of color, women with disabilities and the LGBTQIA community–will remain an elusive dream without a guarantee in the U.S. Constitution.

The progress we have made—and must continue to make—towards women’s equality can be lost at any time because those advances depend on legislation that can be (and has been) weakened or repealed by Congress. Given the current political climate, with Republicans in the White House and Congress nakedly promoting a white supremacist and patriarchal agenda, this is more of a concern than ever.

NOW is committed to advocating for an inclusive and intersectional ERA interpretation that includes equitable access to all aspects of reproductive health care and centers marginalized people, including LGBTQIA individuals, immigrants, women of color, and women with disabilities. We believe the broad language of the 1972 text (“Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged … on account of sex”) lends itself to this inclusive interpretation.

Nevada’s action takes place on a straight line that can be drawn from the January 21st Women’s March on Washington to the March 8th “Day Without a Woman” general strike, and all the spontaneous protests, actions and acts of resistance in between.

Going forward, NOW is mobilizing a new national action campaign for constitutional equality, working with chapter leaders and activists in states such as Virginia, North Carolina and Florida that have yet to ratify the ERA to capitalize on the energy and enthusiasm radiating from Nevada across the nation. We will expand the national conversation about constitutional equality and increase the number of people–particularly young people– who know the status of the national Equal Rights Amendment and support its ratification.

When women, in all our diversity, are included in the U.S. Constitution, our country’s aspiration to be a true democracy will be that much closer to reality.

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12 Easy Things ANYONE can do to Fight for Women’s Rights: A simple and convenient guide to making small, daily contributions

By Gina Atanasoff
  1. Start having those difficult conversations

Of course, there are countless people in the world who can be challenged on their beliefs regarding women’s rights. Starting a dialogue with someone helps to unpack the real issues, whether it’s with your crazy uncle at the dinner table, or even with someone in your class or of a different culture. Try asking thought-provoking questions, seeing someone else’s point of view, or listening to what opponents have to say.

 

  1. Try squashing any sexist stigmas/stereotypes in your daily interactions

By confronting the sexism that exists in our daily lives, it really gives others a reality check. Some people may not even realize their own judgments, stereotypes, or predispositions until someone calls them out on the “why” or “how” aspect of their ideological positions. By doing this, it creates a sense of awareness and critical thinking on the part of others who may be unknowingly perpetuating sexism.

 

  1. Join a women’s organization

It’s important to support other women and stand up for a greater cause. When organizations accumulate massive waves of support, it really sets an agenda for lawmakers when the population can get behind a specific political cause. Becoming part of a women’s organization can provide a sense of empowerment, togetherness, strength, and support. For instance, going online to an organization’s website such as the one for the National Organization for Women: now.org is simple and easy. You can click the Join Now or Email Sign-Up links to get started. Websites like this one provide resources, blogs, voter mobilization links, information about global feminism, and so much more.

 

  1. Donate to Planned Parenthood

A great way to empower women and fight for equal rights is to help out the “largest provider of reproductive health services in the U.S.,” said by Deborah Goldschmidt and Ashley Strickland of CNN as, “offering sexual and reproductive health care, education and outreach to nearly 5 million women, men, and adolescents annually worldwide” (CNN: Fast Facts and Revealing Numbers). Helping those in need of reproductive health care makes such a drastic difference in their lives.

 

  1. Call your representatives

How are our representatives supposed to know what we want if we don’t tell them? The process of representative democracy itself desperately depends on reaching out to our elected officials! They’re the ones who pass the laws and make the rules; by calling their office and emphasizing: “I am your constituent, I vote, and I care about this issue,” you catch their attention more than ever. Take action!

 

  1. Volunteer at a women’s shelter

Needless to say, domestic abuse is a huge problem in this country. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), “On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.” If this is a path to action that sounds interesting, volunteering at a shelter will make a very direct impact on those who desperately need it.

 

 

  1. Attend a peaceful protest or demonstration

This is definitely something ANYONE can do to help show support for women’s rights. Regardless of your gender or age, attending a women’s march, walkout demonstration, or protest in general with even with a group of friends or family, shows our public officials we care enough to come out during our very busy lives to speak out. And without question, men who come out to protest for women make an extremely loud statement. At the end of the day, feminism is not a “man vs. woman” issue. It’s an equality issue.

 

  1. Speak at a town hall meeting or committee hearing

Democracy thrives when we take action. By going directly to the source, by confronting and speaking to your committee leaders and legislative members makes a direct impact. If there’s a bill circulating in Congress that you disagree with, voice it. Don’t be afraid to make yourself heard or for people to disagree with you; that’s what democracy is all about.

 

  1. Read up on women’s history

Take a class! Do a scholarly Internet search. Go to a museum. Learn, learn, learn. Ask your grandmother or great-grandmother what it was like for her growing up. In the words of Sir Francis Bacon, “knowledge is power.” The best thing you can do to empower yourself is learn from the past and pave yourself a future from it.

 

  1. Teach young men and boys how to treat women

Children learn by example. It’s imperative that raising children in a very equal and respectful environment will make a huge difference in the way they grow to treat women in the future. In a perfect world, if we all raise our sons and grandsons to respect women and understand equal treatment, they will likely turn out to be feminists themselves.

 

  1. Teach young girls that they can do anything boys can

Show young girls their worth. Sit down your daughters and remind them that they are worth as much as boys. Encourage them to pursue engineering, sciences, and math. Introduce them to sports. Treat young girls the same way as boys and never let them doubt their worth in comparison to another gender.

 

  1. Provide strong female role models to kids

Characters such as Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen in books are strong female roles. Elsa and Anna from the film Frozen are also a wonderful role model for children, in addition to real figures in history like Rosa Parks, Cleopatra, or Malala Yousafzai. Teach them that women have changed the course of history, are independent, intelligent, capable, and worthy. Exposure to such characters at a young age is very impressionable and can set a permanent tone for a child’s perspective on the world (to both boys and girls)!

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Gina is a member of Connecticut NOW and a senior political science and writing and rhetoric double major at the University of Rhode Island. Her interests involve women’s rights, animal welfare, immigration reform, environmental issues and foreign policy.

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The Rise In Transgender Homicides Is A National Crisis

HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images

A statement from national NOW President Terry O’Neill:

The numbers are horrifying, but they don’t tell the whole story.

In one week alone, four transgender black women were murdered in the United States. So far this year, there have been seven murders of transgender people, well above last year’s figure. And 2016 saw the murder of 23 transgender and gender nonconforming people, the highest ever recorded by groups that monitor this violence.

Beyond these shocking statistics are real people, parts of vibrant communities, people who are loved and treasured and who are targeted because of their gender identity. Now, those hate-fueled perpetrators see a national climate of rising intolerance against transgender people, with a disregard for their safety and human rights that starts at the very top.

Donald Trump’s decision to rescind President Barack Obama’s guidance on protections for transgender school children, along with the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear what would have been the Court’s first case involving transgender rights, compels us to redouble our efforts to end the culture of violence and the culture of sexism that’s seen such an alarming rise in recent months.

The rise in transgender homicides is a national emergency, but so is the federal government’s abandonment of its constitutional obligation to protect and defend the rights of all citizens, regardless of gender identity. NOW stands with the transgender community and will work tirelessly to support their freedom in the current climate of discrimination, prejudice and violence.

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With #MuslimBan2.0, Donald Trump doubles down on cruelty and prejudice

A statement from national NOW President Terry O’Neill:

Donald Trump made changes at the margins of his infamous Muslim ban, but with #MuslimBan2.0 he is doubling down on its cruelty and prejudice.

The new order is still a Muslim ban, it still does nothing to keep Americans safe, and it still puts tens of thousands of refugee families at risk. The United Nations says that the revised travel ban will increase danger to the world’s refugees, with families fleeing deadly violence who once had hope of being allowed to emigrate left in perilous refugee camps.

This is the image that Donald Trump is projecting to the world—the heavy hand of U.S. government officials extinguishing the promise of welcome that has always been the bedrock of our country’s values. NOW stands in solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers, and we will work with our allies in opposing this unconstitutional and morally repugnant executive order.

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GOP Health Plan Puts Women’s Health and Lives At Risk

A statement by national NOW President Terry O’Neill:

The numbers are horrifying, but they don’t tell the whole story.

The Republicans have finally revealed their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Their plan could hardly be worse for women.

The Republican crusade against women’s health care, as laid out in this plan, is truly shocking. Depending on the state you live in, maternity care coverage could be unavailable or prohibitively expensive. In all states, abortion care coverage would be all but eliminated and Planned Parenthood would be defunded, possibly forcing it to close clinics and/or curtail services, leaving millions of women without a trusted provider of birth control, STD screening and treatment, breast exams, and cervical cancer screenings.

We know what happens when women don’t have access to reproductive health services — maternal mortality, maternal morbidity, and infant mortality rates go up.

NOW maintains that health care is a basic human right, not a privilege — and that women are no less entitled than men to have affordable access to the full range of health services they need, when they need them. NOW is mobilizing across the country to stop this dangerous bill. Going forward, we will do all we can to defeat any lawmaker–Republican or Democrat–who supports endangering women’s health and lives by blocking their access to care.

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NOW is Going on Strike

A statement from national NOW President Terry O’Neill:

On Wednesday, March 8, International Women’s Day, women around the country will strike to demand gender equality. The National Organization for Women will proudly take action for human rights alongside them.

Women do work of enormous economic value–for unequal or insufficient compensation, and while routinely grappling with gender-based discrimination. A Day Without a Woman and the International Women’s Strike will demonstrate this enormous economic power–and we will use our financial strength to demand more for women workers everywhere.

NOW will be closing our offices on this powerful day of action, and encouraging our staff to take to the streets in support of women’s economic equality. We hope that you will get out and take action in your community, too.

Here’s where I’ll be:

  • Resist Trump: Stop the Gag, Freedom Plaza, 11 a.m.: Marching to the White House with the Feminist Majority in fierce opposition to Donald Trump’s dangerous global gag rule–which restricts abortion access and endangers women’s lives worldwide.
  • Women Workers Rising Rally, Department of Labor, 3:30p p.m.: Standing with Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United and One Billion Rising to demand that the Department of Labor affirm fair treatment of women workers.

Here’s what activists can do, from A Day Without a Woman organizers:

  • Take the day off from paid and unpaid labor
  • Shop only at small, women-, and minority-owned business
  • Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without a Woman

Women’s wallets are powerful weapons. On Wednesday we will rise in support of economic justice–because the voices of women workers will not be silenced.

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CT Must Remain a Leader in Reproductive Rights

By Gina Atanasoff
Without question, the great state of Connecticut has been a leader in reproductive rights for years. Of course, all citizens deserve equal opportunity, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. … But we also can’t forget about regaining choice over our own bodies. We the American public expect our government to prioritize and respond to specific needs in regards to our safety, health, and overall equal treatment; unfortunately, we are still fighting against oppressive attacks on our reproductive rights to this day.
 
According to the Connecticut General Assembly website, which is easily accessible and open to the public, there are two specific bills being introduced to the Public Health Committee: An Act Concerning Parental Notification of Abortions (SB00324), and An Act Increasing the Age for Which the Provision of Certain Information and Counseling is Required Prior to an Abortion to Less Than Eighteen Years of Age (SB00315).
 
It can be argued that these bills are impeding on the rights and accessibility of teens across the state, and that they don’t represent what Connecticut stands for. For instance, organizations such as Planned Parenthood offer several services to women across the country, which are not limited to abortions, but also provide cancer screenings, pap smears, mammograms, STD/HIV testing, and according to their website, it is the largest provider of sex education.
 
We cannot afford to erode the progress upon which we have made in regards to our reproductive rights, and these bills are a threat to young girls who need to take measures in regards to unwanted pregnancy. This type of legislation that would require pregnant teens to obtain the consent of their parents before seeking abortions can have the potential to radically limit their choices.
 
And what may be surprising to many who are pro-life or conservative opponents: only three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services.
 
Estelle Griswold in front of the old New Haven Planned Parenthood building.

Connecticut has shown a history of fighting for the right to choose and is a leader on the forefront for reproductive rights. For instance, these bills are unlike the progress we made in 1965 when the Supreme Court ruled on Griswold v. Connecticut that a state’s ban on contraceptives violated the right to marital privacy. Estelle Griswold was prepared to be arrested in 1961 when she opened a new Planned Parenthood clinic in New Haven. As she and Dr. C. Lee Buxton, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine were arrested after counseling patients on reproduction options and distributed contraceptives, they faced criminal charges.

 
The Comstock Law was also implemented in 1873, making it illegal to sell, distribute, or obtain materials that promoted contraception or abortion. And while this federal law was taking place, Connecticut passed its own state law to lead the contraceptive movement farther than any other state, when finally, attorney Catherine Roraback challenged state authority. She brought the debate to a federal level, where the Supreme Court ruled in her favor in the Griswold v. Connecticut case.
 
Ultimately, where there has been overreach by the government in regards to the use of birth control, or any other reproductive right, Connecticut has pushed forward. It’s evident that these new bills as of 2017 do not uphold our reputation as such, and it’s important to maintain the integrity demonstrated over the years in the fight for women’s right to choose.
 
There appears to be a strange irony in these new times of women’s rights. While we have always been a leader in the reproductive fight, our legislature is currently working to implement regression in our history.
 
State legislators and constituencies should take a deeper look at our history and also the facts about Planned Parenthood or the critical healthcare providers that women depend on for cancer screenings or HIV testing. We must firmly remain on that path and refrain from backtracking.  
 
So, to our dear representatives and fellow citizens, we must ask ourselves: why would we want to revoke countless health services available to women in order eradicate abortion while abortions are only a fraction of Planned Parenthood?
 
By dismantling the safe and protected healthcare system that currently exists for women, we should not be mistaken: abortions will not come to an end by abolishing Planned Parenthood and putting restrictions on young women’s rights to choose.
 
In fact, it’s quite the opposite: we will be making abortions less safe, and it can become even deadly for women who are desperate enough to take control of their own lives. In addition, forcing women to have unwanted pregnancies, even in spite of rape or incestual cases, will promote the dependence on welfare if they are unable to provide for a child and inhibit the conditions of a child’s upbringing.
 
Without question, we want to make sure we are pro-the quality of a child’s and mother’s life, not simply and blindly force a pro-birth policy.
Of course, we are very fortunate on the federal level that leaders are taking such maximal strides towards women’s rights. However, if we want to see change on a state level, we must encourage our legislators and constituencies to glance at the history of Connecticut’s leadership in this march forward for equality, while also ensuring that our citizens are safe and healthy.
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Gina is a member of Connecticut NOW and a senior political science and writing and rhetoric double major at the University of Rhode Island. Her interests involve women’s rights, animal welfare, immigration reform, environmental issues and foreign policy.
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