Monthly Archives: April 2017

9 posts

Isha Dalal Gives Connecticut a Voice

Isha Dalal photo
Isha Dalal

Isha Dalal, a seventeen-year-old senior at Trumbull High School, is the creator and founder of the organization CT Voice. CT Voice has the goal of getting teens involved in making social change–whether it’s issues like illiteracy or lack of education, like the organization is working on currently, or cyber bullying and other social issues. Isha began working on Voice at the end of her sophomore year, and now after about a year later, her organization is thriving.

The young innovator began working on the organization after she had been volunteering at a literacy center in New Haven. Here, she met a young boy who was very bright–though he did things like eat paper. Isha saw that he wasn’t reaching his full potential–and on top of this, his mom worked very long hours, fostering an environment where learning to read wasn’t easy. And thus, CT Voice began. To help on this endeavor, Isha got in touch with the State Commissioner of Education, who supported the idea completely. Now, Isha’s organization has collected upwards of 5,000 books through a book drive, and is currently fundraising, too.

CT Voice at State Capitol photo
CT Voice at the State Capitol

Isha and her team of other volunteers have broadened the organization through platforms like social media and press. The book drive also raised awareness of CT Voice, too. All of this is thanks to young leaders like Isha, with a specific goal in mind and the perseverance to get it done. Not only this, but another aspect of Isha’s determination is to thank as well: getting the community involved! Isha has managed to get dozens of teens to take part in CT Voice, which allows it to thrive as there are constantly kids with new ideas, willfulness to help with projects, and volunteer in general!

In the future, we can expect to see things like a library on wheels from CT Voice, and in the next few years, we will also be looking out for what new issue this awesome organization is tackling next.

Joely Feder photo
By Joely Feder

###

Joely is a high school intern for Connecticut NOW. Her interests include intersectional feminism, women’s literature, YouTube, and documentaries such as, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.” Joely also runs CT NOW’s Twitter and Instagram.

 

Share Button

Kennedy Williams Empowers Young Women Through Girl Scout Sisterhood

Kennedy Williams photo
Kennedy Williams

Kennedy Williams, a student from Glastonbury, Connecticut, has an abundance of accomplishments for a woman of her young age. The high schooler from Glastonbury High School has been a Girl Scout since the age of four, initially drawn to the caring and supportive environment of the organization.

In the past few years, Kennedy has earned her Silver Award, the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. The project required fifty hours of community service, and Kennedy’s centered on literacy. She created six “little free libraries”, planned a free book drive, and eventually stationed these libraries all over Connecticut. Some are in senior citizen homes where other Girl Scouts can read to seniors. Currently, Kennedy’s own library is in a juvenile courthouse.

Now, Kennedy is working on earning her Gold Award. The focus of this project is mental health awareness. After a rough transition to high school, Kennedy realized that teachers and counselors must be more aware of students’ struggles. And thus, her project began.

Of her proudest accomplishments, mental health advocacy remains center. For instance, Kennedy recently joined other Girl Scouts across Connecticut in attending the organization’s Lunch with your Legislator event at the state Capitol. There, she discussed mental health awareness, change in public schools regarding the issue, and the creation of a mental health awareness fair. Additionally, Kennedy also met with state legislators to discuss her own experiences regarding her transition to high school, even giving a speech regarding mental health.

Williams with State Senator photo
Williams with State Senator

As for her future, the young leader plans on going into the STEM field. Being a minority, she hopes to use the leadership skills she learned in Girl Scouts to push forward in her career, unapologetically progressing and establishing herself professionally.

Joely Feder photo
By Joely Feder

Kennedy’s parting message: always support each other, community and a so-called “sisterhood,” much like the one she experiences in Girl Scouts is powerful for young women. Support alone is important, but having a support system is even better. Also, make sure you spend time for yourself, this is key in order to grow and progress.

###

Joely is a high school intern for Connecticut NOW. Her interests include intersectional feminism, women’s literature, YouTube, and documentaries such as, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.” Joely also runs CT NOW’s Twitter and Instagram.

Share Button

Leadership, Girl Scouts, and Community with Alexis Volpe

Alexis Volpe photo
Alexis Volpe

Alexis Volpe, a senior from Middletown, Connecticut, is doing some awesome things.

 

The seventeen-year-old has been a Girl Scout since she was little, and the organization has enabled her to be a leader and impact her community in many positive ways.

 

Alexis has accomplished a multitude of things. As of now she serves as a Girl Board Member on the Girl Scouts of Connecticut Board of Directors. Additionally, she is the president of her school’s Future Business Leaders of America club, and is in the process of starting a Girl Scout Daisy troop in her town so that she can continue being involved in Girl Scouts after high school.

 

Her proudest memories include earning her Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. She worked for two years on the project–putting in eighty-five hours of hard work. The project focused on putting on a fashion show for disabled students, and it ended up wonderfully, with an inclusive and fun show. Everyone had lots of fun!

 

Not only has Volpe earned her Gold Award, but in 2015 she also won Miss Stamford’s Outstanding Teen, and in 2016 Miss Middletown’s Outstanding Teen. Miss CT is a scholarship organization that awards students with awards based on community service and other admirable achievements.

 

In facing challenges in leadership, Alexis is no stranger. For example, in sophomore year, Alexis was told by many of her peers that she couldn’t be section leader of the percussion section of her school’s band. She persevered, as the only girl in percussion, and is now section leader.

 

Joely Feder photo
By Joely Feder

As for her future, Alexis is looking to stay in Connecticut, continuing band into college and retaining leadership positions in Girl Scouts and her community. Her best advice for young girls looking to do awesome things: Do what you want to do and ignore any stereotypes thrown in your way.

 

Here at CT NOW, we think that’s some good advice! Be you and persevere, by doing this you will achieve whatever you set out to do.

 

Let’s honor this outstanding teen!

###

Joely is a high school intern for Connecticut NOW. Her interests include intersectional feminism, women’s literature, YouTube, and documentaries such as, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.” Joely also runs CT NOW’s Twitter and Instagram.

 

Share Button

Guest Blog: 2017, The Year of Women RARING to Run!

By Patricia Russo

WOW! What a difference a GLOBAL Women’s March makes! Since that March, the Women’s Campaign School at Yale (WCSYale.org) has been flooded with inquiries from women raising their hands excited to learn more about our five day training the week of June 5th, and wanting to learn more about getting civically engaged.

Since the March, we heard from over 700 women from across the country. And those of you who know me know I eagerly responded to every query! The conversations went something like this: “Hello! Thanks so much for contacting us. Where did you vote on Election Day?”, “Oh, I’m not registered to vote. But I’m mad now! I marched and I want to run!” I then directed them to their local Registrar of Voters, gave them a local political homework assignment, and then asked them to please contact us in one year if they were still excited about politically participating.

That was about one third of the women who contacted us after the March.

The next one third who contacted us were YES! registered to vote, however they had not voted in the November 2016 election. Reasons were rampant: “My car died. I forgot. The two candidates were so similar, I just couldn’t decide.”
But, they’re mad now, they marched and they want to run for office.

I also gave this one third a local political assignment to complete, in the hope that they too would return to us and apply in one year.

The remaining one third were truly “Ready to Run”, and are currently applying…en masse! I am thrilled to report our online application numbers have reached an all time high in the history of our School, and climbing.

Here’s my concern about the 2/3 who are truly not ready to run. They will take a webinar elsewhere, believe they are ready to run, run prematurely, lose, not run again, and there goes our political pipeline…and then we are doomed to continue on this hamster wheel we have been on of not enough women in the pipeline.

Which is why we are the in process of raising $100,000 to fund a new one day intensive training program: WCSYale: The Basics which we hope to launch this spring throughout the country to help women not ready for our five day intensive, to find their political footing, to help them understand the political basics so that they can effectively launch themselves politically in their individual communities. We are excited at the response we have gotten from women interested in funding this new initiative as well as from women who are interested in participating. Many have shared with us: “I don’t know what I don’t know”. We want to help harness their enthusiasm and new found passion into effective and successful political activism so that we can create and build a political pipeline worthy of not only 52% of our gender, but of our entire population of American people.

His holiness the Dalai Lama said: “Western Women will Save the World.” Every day in every way I am inspired by these words, and I know them to be true.

 
For more information about our new one day training initiative, our June 5-9 session, inviting the WCSYale to speak at your next meeting, or any other queries, please contact me at: PRusso@WCSYale.org or 203.734.7385.

###

Patricia is the Executive Director of Women’s Campaign School at Yale University.

Share Button

In the Name of Feminism… Be Conscious About Dairy.

By Gina Atanasoff

There’s no question about it: a mother’s love is unparalleled to any other bond, even from the day we are conceived. After carrying us for nine long months, from the moment we are born, through childhood obstacles, high school heartbreaks, and any other struggle we may have in life: our moms are always there to love and support us.

Regardless of species, whether human, dog, cow, or even horse, a maternal bond exists between mother and child. Love is universal.

I know what you’re thinking.

“Okay, so what on earth could dairy have to do with feminism? I love cheese with my wine, ice cream on a hot day, and cream in my coffee! Pairing dairy with feminism simply makes no sense.”

So, imagine this. Imagine you’re pregnant and expecting your child to be born at the hospital tomorrow. You have your husband, your family, and friends surrounding you. After nine months, you are already filled with unparalleled love for your child before you even meet him/her. Then, once you have endured the exhausting and excruciating experience of delivering him/her into this world, as soon as you give birth, without a chance to even hold your precious baby, your baby is ripped away, loudly crying out for you, and is dragged into a slaughterhouse for a brutal murder.

Imagine the gut-wrenching feeling of your own flesh and blood being stolen from you the moment you give birth. Remember the cries and the screams. Don’t let go of that feeling.

To all of the mothers who are reading this, I know your heart hurts by simply imagining this horrific scenario.

Now, let’s rewind and imagine you were captured, repeatedly raped, over and over, giving birth over and over, only to have each baby taken away each and every time. Picture mothers impregnated and impregnated, and their babies yanked out, screaming, and dragged towards execution repeatedly for years on end. If they were human, do you think this would this be legal?

Then over time, once the mother cow is too exhausted, infertile, and cannot produce milk anymore, she is sent off to slaughter.

This is the dairy industry in a nutshell.

To get some more information, check out PETA’s website on the dairy industry here.

“My god, that is so horrific. Why have I never heard about this?”

What’s appalling about this form of mass production is not only the horrific practices taking place (and also how legal it is), but how little we as a public are aware of what occurs to millions of mothers and babies every single day. Brutal acts of rape, murder, and exploitation are taking place every single day.

Naturally, this doesn’t mean anyone is asking you to cut yourself off from dairy cold turkey. Don’t worry! Rather, it’s simply important to acknowledge the source of where our food products come from and how they are produced. Of course, us women all want to fight for feminism in any way we can. That cannot be disputed. But regardless of species, the mother-child bond is unbreakable and is brimming with love. You are already aware of this fact.

All it takes is a little bit of compassion and empathy to make an incredible change.

So, in order to save an extra life a day, perhaps cut back on the cheese pizza for dinner or the feta cheese on that salad– just once a week. Or even once a month. Be mindful of dairy, for the sake of feminism itself. Because weak, defenseless, and helpless mothers and babies are going through worlds of pain, suffering, and unimaginable atrocities on the other side of that milk carton in its most raw and brutal form.

And the world has no idea it’s even happening.

The Fields Beneath restaurant in the UK announces their reasons for “ditching dairy.”

But, there is hope.

In 2012 the Washington Post had published an article by Brad Plumer entitled: Americans are eating less and less meat. Plumer states, “According to a Department of Agriculture report, Americans are projected to eat 12.2 percent less meat in 2012 than they did 2007.” We think we cannot make a difference in this mass-produced brutality. We think our small decisions and heartfelt attempts at salvaging humanity for these creatures and their dignity go unnoticed.

But for each ice cream cone or macaroni and cheese meal that you skip, supply and demand will determine these mothers’ fates. Just as the trends with meat consumption between 2007 and 2012, there is hope for all the mothers and babies in the world of the dairy industry… If we can all reduce our intake.

With enough people who have a compassionate mindset behind this small, daily effort of consciousness, we can actually see the industry conform to our needs as consumers. This can determine the fates of countless vulnerable mothers and babies. This will save lives.

All in all, help her. Because you can. Every day, you choose what to put on your plate three times a day.

Help her, for the sake of feminism.

###

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.

Share Button

Schools Must Protect Girls of Color, in DC and across the US

A statement from national NOW President Terry O’Neill:

The recent revelations about missing Black and Latina girls in Washington, D.C. raises some questions that go beyond the facts as reported in the media. A spokesperson for Washington D.C.’s mayor said, “oftentimes these girls are repeat runaways…So if we really want to help solve this problem and bring down the numbers we have to break the cycle of young people, especially young girls, who repeatedly run away from home.”

This begs the question: what role are schools playing in this phenomenon?

In too many schools, zero-tolerance policies prioritize discipline over educational attainment, with disproportionate impacts on students of color. Black girls are six times more likely to be suspended than white girls, and three times more likely than Black boys, for the same behavior. Students suspended or expelled are in turn three times more likely to be drawn into the juvenile justice system the following year.

What’s more, girls are sexually abused at a rate over 4 times higher than boys, and their behavioral reaction to trauma is often criminalized. Traumatic experiences are in fact often the cause for girls’ involvement in the criminal justice system including sexual violence (31 percent), physical abuse (41 percent), and family violence (84 percent).

Federal law, in the form of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, requires all federally-funded schools to provide girls an equal educational opportunity. That surely includes providing trauma-informed services–instead of punishment and pushout–to help survivors recover from their trauma, stay in school, and thrive.

We commend Congressional Black Caucus chair Cedric Richmond and DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton for calling on the Justice Department to support the District’s investigations into the missing girls, and we appreciate Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposal for new initiatives to find missing children and support organizations that assist at-risk teens.

Along with these measures, NOW calls on schools to comply with Title IX and ensure an equal educational opportunity, including appropriate screenings and services, for students who are survivors of trauma.

Instead of dismissing the District’s missing Black and Latina girls as “runaways,” we need to ask whether their schools failed to give them the attention, compassion, and resources they may have needed. Their lives matter.

Share Button

NOW Calls for Bill O’Reilly to be Fired and Demands an Independent Investigation Into the Culture of Sexual Harassment at Fox News

A statement from national NOW President Terry O’Neill:

The culture of sexual harassment at Fox News must stop. The National Organization for Women (NOW) calls for Bill O’Reilly to be fired and demands an immediate independent investigation into the culture of sexual harassment at Fox News.

An investigation by The New York Times revealed that five women who accused Mr. O’Reilly of sexual harassment received payouts–totaling about $13 million–in exchange for their silence. Three of these stories had been previously unreported.

The report indicates that Mr. O’Reilly abused his position of power and engaged in a pattern of predatory, misogynistic behavior–enticing women with promises of career advancement, and threatening retribution when they rebuffed his sexual advances. The reported use of his powerful position to repeatedly manipulate women reveals a cruel misogyny that runs to the core of his character.

On the heels of Roger Ailes’ shameful removal from Fox News, following similar sexual harassment claims, Mr. O’Reilly’s case is part of a larger culture that condones the harassment and objectification of women at Fox News. Men like Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Ailes will never be stopped as long as their behavior is allowed to continue, even supported, by their employer.

For too long women have endured dangerous sexism at the hands of powerful men and , powerful institutions. Fox News is too big and too influential to simply let this go. Women have the right to go to work without facing harassment. Fox News apparently doesn’t get that basic concept.

Share Button

On Equal Pay Day, NOW Reaffirms Commitment to Closing Gender-Race Wage Gap

A statement from national NOW President Terry O’Neill:

April 4, 2017 marks the day when women ”catch up” to the wages earned by white men in 2016. Women still earn, on average, just 80 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. From this number, it is obvious that an embarrassing pay inequity exists between women and men in the United States. What’s not obvious is the way this inequity is magnified for women of color.

When the numbers are broken down by race, the wage gap expands for many women of color. White women and Asian women are paid just 75% and 85% of what white men do, respectively. But African-American women receive just 63% of what white men do; and Latinas face even bigger disadvantages, at 54%.

Over a lifetime, the consequences of this gender-race wage gap are severe. Lower lifetime earnings prevents women from saving for retirement, and reduces the Social Security benefits they receive. The larger the gap, the larger the price a woman pays at the end of her working years.

This Equal Pay Day is a reminder that we need to get real about policies that will close the gender-race wage gap. Women make up two thirds of low-wage workers–like home health aides, child care workers, and restaurant servers–so it is imperative that we make the minimum wage a living wage. Adequate family leave policies and expanded access to affordable child care are critical pieces of the puzzle as well.

But we need to fight for these policies beyond April 4. NOW will observe all of the remaining 2017 Equal Pay Days listed below, remembering the unique disadvantages women of color face. And we will continue fighting every day for common-sense policies to protect women workers.

African-American Women: July 31, 2017
Native American Women: September 25, 2017
Latinas: November 2, 2017

Share Button

CT NOW ACTION ALERT: Oppose Gorsuch and call for a filibuster!

When Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal asked SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch whether he supported the important 1965 Supreme Court Griswold v. Connecticut ruling that said a married couple’s right to privacy includes the right to use birth control, Gorsuch refused to answer. Gorsuch, in fact, has refused to answer most questions about his beliefs, but this one is especially disturbing.

Why? Because Griswold v. Connecticut was about much more than birth control.

Sparked by Estelle Griswold of Connecticut, this landmark case established a clearer definition of the “right to privacy” our Constitution guarantees and, over the past 40+ years, has served as the foundation for a broad array of personal rights, including the right to marry someone of a different race or the same sex, and the right to make reproductive choices related to your own body. Indeed, many of our most personal privacy rights were guaranteed by the Griswold case. Yet with Gorsuch’s nomination, they are at risk again.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Gorsuch tomorrow — Monday, April 3 — and a vote could go to the full Senate by Friday.

National NOW has asked us, and all NOW chapters, to help #StopGorsuch. And yesterday, at the Women’s March Connecticut forum in Bridgeport, Senator Blumenthal asked for the same. “We are in the fight of our lives,” he said.

Call Connecticut Senators Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and tell them you support their decisions to vote no to #StopGorsuch and filibuster. Numbers matter! All calls are logged and the information shared.

Also, feel free to call senators in other states. Those calls matter, too!  Follow this link to see how, as of last week, senators planned to vote: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/27/politics/neil-gorsuch-whip-list/

Follow this link for a list of the local and Washington phone numbers of all senators: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/2/2/1629046/-Call-your-senator-Phone-numbers-for-every-office-of-every-U-S-senator

Here are some suggestions of what to say:

Real people will be negatively impacted by Gorsuch. People who suffered real injuries and their loved ones spoke out last week about how they failed to get justice from Judge Gorsuch. Gorsuch puts corporations and the powerful above the people. That’s not the kind of fair and independent jurist we should have on the nation’s highest court.

Gorsuch must answer questions, but he refuses. Gorsuch has the burden of proving he is worthy of a lifetime appointment on our nation’s highest court. His record is still incomplete, and he has been less than forthcoming in his one-on-one meetings with senators. Gorsuch must answer questions about his record and his judicial philosophy so that the Senate – and the American people – can understand what kind of justice he is likely to be.

Gorsuch is not the independent voice we need. The growing clamor for investigations into the Trump campaign highlight the need for an independent judiciary that will serve as a check on an out-of-control executive branch. President Trump has demonstrated no respect for an independent judiciary. He and his aides have claimed unchecked authority and he’s has attacked federal judges who have ruled against him (Trump University, Muslim ban). We need independent judges who will be a check on President Trump when he violates the law or the Constitution. Gorsuch’s troubling history of deference to executive power shows that he will not be that independent voice.

Respect the rules that require 60 Senate votes for confirmation. In the event that Republicans push for a change in Senate rules to lower the threshold for confirmation, remind that they need to “change the nominee and not the rules.” Mitch McConnell and his allies want to push a narrative that this confirmation is inevitable, but that’s simply false.

Quote national NOW President Terry O’Neill, who said: “A thorough vetting of Gorsuch’s record shows he is no friend of women, workers, consumers or LGBTQIA persons. His role in key decisions shows that Gorsuch does not support women’s access to reproductive health care and was willing to allow religious and corporate entities to deny employees insurance coverage for contraceptives. We are certain that Gorsuch would be a Supreme Court justice who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade – and, as we all know, this is what Donald Trump would like to see happen. It’s absolutely critical that we do everything we can to stop Gorsuch. Let’s not forget that this is a stolen seat — which became vacant more than a year ago, but Republicans refused to consider President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.”

Please take action immediately! We defeated Trumpcare together. Now, we must defeat Trump’s SCOTUS nominee.

Cindy Wolfe Boynton, CT NOW president

Share Button