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Despite Dem majority, we need to stay vigilant about reproductive rights

By Lauren Pizzoferrato

As a result of November’s election, Connecticut’s 2019 Legislative Session opens today with a majority of Democrats in both the state House and Senate who support reproductive rights.

Despite this, legislative action on the federal level has the potential to limit reproductive choice in Connecticut. This month, the Trump administration is expected to release another domestic gag rule that could cause Title X providers like Connecticut’s Planned Parenthood of Southern New England to lose millions of federal dollars because they provide abortion. If these dollars become available, the expectation is that misleading crisis pregnancy centers like those that exist in Hartford, New Haven, Meriden, Bridgeport and throughout Connecticut will begin to vie for them.

Also of huge concern is the Trump administration proposal for separate insurance for abortion coverage—something that Access Health CT, Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act exchange, has protested.

Here in Connecticut on the state level, bills that would limit a woman’s access to reproductive choice–taking away a women’s ability to control of her own health and body—have also already been introduced into the General Assembly.

All of us who believe in reproductive health and freedom must remain aware and vigilant to protect our state from attacks within Connecticut, and from the federal government. Both in the U.S. Congress and Connecticut General Assembly, we have a majority of legislators who support reproductive rights and will fight for progressive legislation. We need to continuously reach out to them, urging them to stand firm when it comes to women’s health and reproductive freedom, and thanking them when they speak out on our behalf.

Connecticut NOW will keep you informed on when proposed bills that the CT Coalition for Choice is following need your voice, and for you to reach out to your legislators.

Lauren Pizzoferrato serves as Connecticut NOW’s liaison to the CT Coalition for Choice.

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Sneak Peek: On the Basis of Sex


UPDATE at 1:40 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10: We are sold out!

By CAROLYN MILAZZO MURPHY

I apparently have a lot of friends who want to go to the movies with me.

After I posted “Alone Time” https://thegsandwich.wordpress.com/ about my first foray to the movies by myself to see A Star Is Born, some friends lamented that I didn’t invite them to join me.

“The next time you’re going to the movies, call me. I love to go to movies and I’ll go with you,” a friend told me last night. Other friends indicated disappointment that I didn’t call them before heading out on my own.

So just in case anyone’s interested, I’m going to see a sneak preview of On the Basis of Sex Thursday evening at the Cinemark North Haven. The Connecticut chapter of the National Organization of Women bought out a 50-seat theater, and some tickets are still available. The $22 cost covers your ticket and a small donation to NOW. The film starts at 6:45 p.m.

If you want to come, please join us. There are still seats, but they’re going fast.

The film portrays a period in Ginsburg’s life where she juggled Harvard Law School with parenting her 3-year-old daughter and caring for her cancer-stricken husband. It stars Felicity Jones as Ginsburg and Armie Hammer as her loving husband Marty, who was also in Harvard Law at the time.

I saw a preview before The Mule, and it looks as intriguing as you’d expect. RBG is a trailblazer and a woman before her time, staking out a career in the 1950s in the male dominated field of law. She became the second woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court when named by President Clinton in 1993.

I’m eager to see this movie, particularly with a group of women who are advocates for women’s rights. Ginsburg paved the way for all of us, and remains an inspiration today at age 85.

Carolyn Milazzo Murphy is a freelance writer and contributor to the Connecticut chapter of NOW’s blog.

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Wraps Comfort Domestic Violence Victims

Just a few days after the launch of the With-You Wrap, this beautiful wrap arrived at Connecticut NOW chapter president Cindy Wolfe Boynton’s home.

By CAROLYN MILAZZO MURPHY

I’m the world’s worst knitter, and don’t even get me started on crocheting.

I admire women who knit at their kids’ basketball games or boring municipal meetings, expertly looping yarn over their knitting needles, but it’s Greek to me. My crafty mom tried to teach me to knit when I was about 13 and I just couldn’t get it. This was hard to accept for someone who prides herself on having excellent hand-eye coordination.

Knitting and crocheting are skills to be treasured and shared. Besides being able to make afghans, sweaters, scarves and mittens to provide warmth, handmade creations reflect a personal touch and creative spirit missing in today’s world of mass produced everything.

An article in Handmade Business summed it up this way:

“When you make something, you leave a part of yourself in it. When you are finished creating, you take pride in the work partly because you see yourself in it. When you buy something someone else made, you yourself are reflected in that purchase. Whether it’s the color, the texture, the shape, or just the mood you happen to be in, an item that has been crafted as an expression of the creative spirit person who made it is treasured and valued far beyond an item that was made for worldly mass consumption.”

The Connecticut chapter of NOW is calling on all knitters and crocheters, hoping their creations can infuse comfort, support and hope into the growing number of women and kids who are victims of domestic violence. The chapter has launched the “With-You Wrap,” a project to provide shawls to domestic violence victims so they never feel alone.

Just four days after the official Jan. 1st launch, the first wrap arrived on chapter president Cindy Boynton’s doorstep. Organizers hope to provide wraps to about 1,200 domestic violence victims in shelters across the state.

I love this project for a few reasons. It shows domestic violence victims, who often feel alone, afraid and abandoned, that someone is thinking about them. It also underscores the importance of the personal touch – one woman reaching out to another to provide comfort and hope for better days.

The number of women and children affected by domestic abuse in Connecticut is staggering. An estimated 38,000 victims of domestic violence turned to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) and its 18 member organizations for counseling, shelter, court-based advocacy, and other essential services in 2018.

Boynton, who is an avid knitter, came up with the idea for the project. Inspired in part by prayer shawls worn by the sick, Cindy thought wraps would be a way of showing victims that someone cares. The project launched on Jan. 1, and already is gaining momentum from some knitting groups around the state.

Knitters and crocheters can be as creative as they wish, but are being asked to follow a few basic guidelines. The first is to create a rectangular shawl with some kind of purple yarn. The second is to include “3” into your design, whether it be that you use 3 different colors of yarn, cast on stitches that are a multiple of 3, or something different. (For a complete set of guidelines, click here http://now-ct.org/get-involved/knit-or-crochet-a-with-you-wrap/?fbclid=IwAR2Z7gM2aUXIs9gKOLf7qutlaVL9G-KTOfnGbnggIE1cOdHucUASgVG0UyM.

This project reminds me of a homemade cookie program I participated in during a vacation to Hilton Head Island, S.C., last spring. After listening to a representative of the Kairos Prison Project explain he needed about 30,000 homemade cookies for an upcoming weekend in South Carolina’s prisons, my family decided to do our part.

I liked the idea because in addition to making the cookies, you were asked to pray that your efforts would make a difference in the lives of inmates and everyone who came in contact with them, including their families and prison officials. Our three-dozen cookies didn’t look like much, but you never know the impact that one tiny gesture will have on another person.

I rode my bike with our cookies in my wire basket and dropped them off in the church vestibule. I admit I was a bit disheartened when I noticed some people had tossed Oreos and Chips Ahoy into the donation bin. That wasn’t exactly what the organizers had in mind.

I have no idea if the cookies helped a prisoner, but they helped us. We made them as a family with good intentions. Sometimes, the only thing that we can possibly do for other people is show them that we care, and that they’re not alone in this world. 

Carolyn Milazzo Murphy is a freelance writer and a blog contributor to the Connecticut chapter of NOW.

 

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Attend an advance, private screening of On the Basis of Sex

Advance tickets needed, and only a limited number available.

The Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women will host a special, private screening of the already-acclaimed “On the Basis of Sex” on Thursday, January 10 – the day before it opens nationwide!

Doors will open at 6:45 p.m. for the 7:15 p.m. show at the North Haven Cinemark, 550 Universal Drive, North Haven.

The film tells the inspiring and spirited true story of young lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as she teams with her husband Marty to bring a groundbreaking case before the U.S. Court of Appeals and overturn a century of gender discrimination. The film’s 2018 premiere coincides with Justice Ginsburg’s 25th anniversary on the Supreme Court. Ticket price of $22 includes a donation toward Connecticut NOW’s scholarship fund, which each summer pays the FULL TUITION for 1-2 Connecticut women to attend the Women’s Campaign School at Yale.

Tickets are limited and need to be purchased in advance!

Join us for the chance to see On the Basis of Sex before everyone else, PLUS the great feeling of knowing that your purchase will help increase the number and influence of Connecticut women in politics!

Any questions, please email president@now-ct.org.

Click here to make your secure payment and to reserve your seat.

 

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Show a domestic violence victim she’s not alone.

Connecticut NOW is excited to launch this new project for 2019!

Knit or crochet a With-You Wrap.

In 2018, more than 38,000 victims of domestic violence turned to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) and its 18 member organizations for counseling, shelter, court-based advocacy, and other essential services.

Wrap your arms around one of these adult or child victims by knitting or crocheting a “With-You Wrap” infused with your love, strength and supportive energy.

Created and run by the Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), the With-You Wraps Project is designed to make sure that no Connecticut victim of domestic violence ever feels alone. … That each time she wears a With-You Wrap, she feels the comfort and support of the person who made it: a person who believes in the victim’s strength and worth, and who will stand with her always.

Become a With-You Wrap volunteer by creating and donating a shawl today. Here’s how:

Step 1:
Knit or crochet a rectangular shawl with some kind of purple yarn. You choose the exact dimensions, but we recommend roughly 24 x 60 for an adult shawl, and 15 x 45 for a youth shawl. Whatever size you choose, we ask you purposefully include “3” into your design, whether it be that you use 3 different colors of yarn, cast on stitches that are a multiple of 3, or something different.

Why knit or crochet with a “3”? Because symbolically, 3 represents something that is sold, real, substantial, complete. To the Mayan people, 3 was the scared number of women, and to the Japanese it represents the “3 treasures” of truth, courage and compassion—all things domestic violence victims deserve and need. Consciously adding these components to your wrap will add power and meaning.

Why use purple or a purply yarn? Purple is the official color of Domestic Violence Awareness. But it’s more than that, too. Purple combines the calm of blue and the fierceness of red. It represents power, truth, justice, wisdom, independence and peace. Science has also proven that seeing purple can uplift spirits, calm the mind and nerves, and encourage the imagination.

Step 2:
Print and complete the With-You Wrap Submission Form and Card (PDF). The form is for Connecticut NOW to keep track of the number of wraps donated, as well as to let you know where your wrap was sent. The card allows you to send a personal message to the recipient of your wrap.

Step 3:
Mail your wrap along with the completed form and card to:

Cindy Wolfe Boynton

President, Connecticut NOW

26 Burwell Ave., Milford, CT 06460

When we receive your wrap, we’ll tie it in a purple ribbon, attach your card, and deliver it to a CCADV domestic violence shelter or other agency.

Please remember … There is no right or wrong way to knit or crochet a With-You Wrap. Create it with the intention of sending strength and support to the recipient, and you can’t go wrong.

Please email president@now-ct.org with any questions. Click here for a printable PDF of the above directions.

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Bus trip to see Gloria: A Life in NYC with Connecticut NOW!

Spend a day in sisterhood with Connecticut NOW on Saturday, Feb. 9, when we’ll travel together by bus to New York City to see the highly acclaimed “Gloria: A Life” – a play described as “a richly detailed tapestry about one of the most inspiring and remarkable women of our time.” Only 39 seats are available for this special trip, so book now! Cost of $110.00 per person includes a premium ticket to the 2 p.m. performance of the play; an after-performance theater talk-back with a special guest; comfortable, round-trip bus transportation from either Glastonbury or New Haven; and driver gratuity. After the play, we’ll have about 2 hours to eat or otherwise enjoy being in Manhattan before heading home. Timeline for the day:

* 10:30 a.m. pick up travelers leaving from the commuter parking lot at 3024 Main St., Glastonbury

* 11 a.m. pick up travelers leaving from the commuter parking lot facing Long Island Sound at Long Wharf in New Haven

* 2 p.m. see Gloria: A Life, followed by theater talk-back

* 4 p.m.-ish time on your own (with lots of great restaurants in the area)

* 6 p.m. leave NYC for return home

Reserve your space for what it sure to be an inspiring and empowering day!

 

 

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Travel to Washington, D.C. Women’s March with Connecticut NOW

Two of the incredible Connecticut activists who traveled with us to Washington in 2017.

In addition to participating in the Women’s March in Hartford, Connecticut NOW has chartered a bus to take CT NOW members and friends to the 2019 Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Want to be part of the #WomensWave that on Saturday, January 19, 2019 will swell just steps from the U.S. Capitol? Come with us! Our bus will be picking up passengers in Glastonbury and New Haven. Cost per person is $60 for Connecticut NOW members and $75 for non-members. Price includes roundtrip travel in a luxury coach; snacks and drinks to keep you full and hydrated; the excitement and camaraderie that comes from standing up, and speaking out, with like-minded people; bus driver gratuity; and so much more. Space is strictly limited! If you want to attend, please purchase your tickets ASAP. Buying your tickets early will also help us know whether we need to pursue the possibility of chartering a second bus.

Timeline for the trip on January 19, 2019:

* 1:30 a.m. pick up travelers leaving from the commuter parking lot at 3024 Main St., Glastonbury

* 2 a.m. pick up travelers leaving from the commuter parking lot facing Long Island Sound at Long Wharf in New Haven

* 2:15ish a.m. pick up travelers from a Fairfield County commuter parking lot, exact location TBD

* 10 a.m. #WomensWave Women’s March begins

* 6:30 p.m. leave Washington for return home

Click here to reserve your seat. Limited space available.

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Labor Day Is Another Day Of Struggle For Working Women

A statement by national NOW President Toni Van Pelt:

Labor Day is meant to be a day of celebration, marking the contributions made by all working people in the U.S.—but for women, it’s a reminder of how far we remain from full equality.

Women make up 47% of the labor force and are the sole breadwinners in 40% of families with children—and yet, the wage gap between working women and men persists in nearly every occupation.

Despite civil rights laws and advancements in women’s economic status, workplace discrimination still persists. For women of color, this inequity can be devastating. According to the National Women’s Law Center, African American women working full-time are paid 64 cents for every dollar a man earns, and Latina women are paid 56 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Women remain segregated into jobs where they are underpaid and undervalued. Women make up 95% of the workforce in industries considered “women’s work,” such as home care, child care and housekeeping—yet most workers in these fields lack basic employment protections enjoyed by workers in other fields. And women are particularly vulnerable to an artificially low minimum wage that puts their families at risk.

Labor Day won’t be a holiday that’s truly worth celebrating until the gender pay gap is erased, the minimum wage is raised to at least $15, paid parental leave is universal and parents have access to subsidized childcare.

Until then, Labor Day will remain just another day for shopping and barbecue.

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NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN, CONNECTICUT CHAPTER, ENDORSES 80+ CANDIDATES RUNNING FOR STATE OFFICES

August 20, 2018–The Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women (CT NOW) has endorsed more than 80 candidates running for state office in the November 2018 election.*

The endorsements are based on responses candidates gave to a CT NOW questionnaire. Questions were designed to show how candidates’ beliefs lined up with both Connecticut and national NOW’s legislative and policy priorities. Particular attention was paid to candidates’ answers on questions related to:

  • Reproductive rights and justice
  • Economic justice
  • Ending violence against women
  • Racial justice
  • LBGT rights (including marriage equality)
  • Constitutional equality

All Connecticut candidates were invited to complete the questionnaire. Only those who responded were considered.

“Issues at the core of today’s women’s movement–issues like reproductive rights, gender equality, family leave, access to education and equal pay–aren’t just women’s issues. They’re family issues,” said CT NOW Vice President Kate Hamilton Moser. “They’re also issues that Connecticut officials will likely face in the 2019 Legislative Session, and that are at the core of what NOW is all about. Connecticut NOW is committed to helping elect officials who are equally committed to the advancement of women’s, human rights and equality for all, and we are pleased to offer these endorsements.”

For Statewide Office

  • Governor Ned Lamont, Democrat
  • Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Democrat
  • Attorney General William Tong, Democrat
  • Secretary of State Denise Merrill, Democrat
  • State Treasurer Shawn Wooden, Democrat

For State Senate

  • Beth Bye, Democrat, 5th District
  • Terry Gerratana, Democrat, 6th District
  • Melissa Osborne, Democrat, 8th District
  • Matt Lesser, Democrat, 9th District
  • Gary Winfield, Democrat, 10th District
  • Martin Looney, Democrat, 11th District
  • Christine Cohen, Democrat, 12th District
  • James Maroney, Democrat, 14th District
  • Robert Statchen, Democrat, 18th District
  • Monica Brill, Democrat, 21st District
  • Julie Kushner, Democrat, 24th District
  • Bob Duff, Democrat, 25th District
  • William Haskell, Democrat, 26th District
  • Michelle Lapine McCabe, Democrat, 28th District
  • Chris Wright, Democrat, 31st District
  • Catherine De Carli, Democrat, 32nd District
  • Aili McKeen, Democrat, 34th District
  • John Perrier, Democrat, 35th District

For State House of Representatives

  • Matt Ritter, Democrat, 1st District
  • Raghib Allie-Brennan, Democrat, 2nd District
  • Mary Sanders, Green Party, 4th District
  • Joshua Hall, Democrat, 7th District
  • Brenda Falusi, Democrat, 8th District
  • Geoffrey Luxenberg, Democrat, 12th District
  • Jason Doucette, Democrat, 13th District
  • John Pelkey, Democrat, 14th District
  • Eleni Kavros DeGraw, Democrat, 17th District
  • Jillian Gilchrest, Democrat, 18th District
  • Derek Slap, Democrat, 19th District
  • Michael Demicco, Democrat, 21st District
  • Richard Ireland, Democrat, 22nd District
  • Matt Pugliese, Democrat, 23rd District
  • Gary Turco, Democrat, 27th District
  • Russell Morin, Democrat, 28th District
  • Kerry Wood, Democrat, 29th District
  • Joseph Aresimowicz, Democrat, 30th District
  • Laurel Steinhauser, Democrat, 32nd District
  • Theresa Govert, Democrat, 34th District
  • Jason Adler, Democrat, 35th District
  • Christine Palm, Democrat, 36th District
  • Baird Welch-Collins, Democrat, 38th District
  • Christine Conley, Democrat, 40th District
  • Emmett Riley, Democrat, 46th District
  • Kate Donnelly, Democrat, 47th District
  • Linda Orange, Democrat, 48th District
  • Susan Johnson, Democrat, 49th District
  • Patricia Wilson Pheanious, Democrat, 53rd District
  • Gregory Haddad, Democrat, 54th District
  • Tiffany Thiele, Democrat, 55th District
  • Michael Winkler, Democrat, 56th District
  • Thomas Arnone, Democrat, 5th8 District
  • Jane Garibay, Democrat, 60th District
  • Jack Henrie, Democrat, 61st District
  • Amanda Webster, Democrat, 62nd District
  • Candy Perez, Democrat, 63rd District
  • Maria Horn, Democrat, 64th District
  • Alex Larsson, Democrat, 66th District
  • Greg Cava, Democrat, 69th District
  • David Borzellino, Democrat, 80th District
  • Ryan Rogers, Democrat, 81st District
  • Hilda Santiago, Democrat, 84th District
  • Theresa Ranciato-Viele, 87th District
  • Joshua Elliott, Democrat, 88th District
  • Roland Lemar, Democrat, 96th District
  • James Albis, Democrat, 99th District
  • John-Michael Parker, Democrat, 101st District
  • Robin Comey, Democrat, 102nd District
  • Rebekah Harriman-Stites, Democrat, 106th District
  • Daniel Pearson, Democrat, 107th District
  • Mary Welander, Democrat, 114th District
  • Dorinda Borer, Democrat, 115th District
  • Cindy Wolfe Boynton, Democrat, 117th District
  • Kim Rose, Democrat, 118th District
  • Ellen Beatty, Democrat, 119th District
  • Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, Democrat, 123rd District
  • Charlie Stallworth, Democrat, 126th District
  • Jack Hennessy, Democrat, 127th District
  • Caitlin Pereira, Democrat, 132nd District
  • Cristin McCarthy Vahey, Democrat, 133rd District
  • Ashley Gaudiano, Democrat, 134th District
  • Anne Hughes, Democrat, 135th District
  • Jonathan Steinberg, Democrat, 136th District
  • Lucy Dathan, Democrat, 142nd District
  • Caroline Simmons, Democrat, 144 District
  • David Michel, Democrat, 146 District
  • Corey Paris, Democrat, 146 District
  • Matthew Blumenthal, Democrat, 147 District
  • Laura Kostin, Democrat, 151 District

Founded in 1970, CT NOW is proud to be part of the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. The grassroots arm of the women’s movement, we are one of more than 500 local and campus national NOW affiliates across the United States and a leader–rather than a follower–of public opinion. Learn more about us at www.now-ct.org.

*Updated October 1, 2018

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Women Key To Stopping Gun Violence

Mary Ann Jacob, left, listens as Carolyn Vermont dicusses gun violence at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, CT.

Note by regular Connecticut NOW blogger Carolyn Milazzo Murphy: I have a friend who has an adorable 3-year-old son in preschool. Shortly after the Florida school shooting in February that claimed 17 lives, she expressed her growing anxiety about sending her son off to preschool every day. “I want to do something, but I have no idea what to do,” she said. “What can I do?” It turns out, a lot. The night before, I sat in an audience at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport and listened to Mary Ann Jacob, one of the survivors of the Sandy Hook School shooting in Newtown five years ago. As a gunman entered the school and began his killing spree, Jacob led 20 children to safety, hiding with them in a storage closet. Now an outspoken advocate for gun safety, Jacob wrote the following essay in response to my question: “What can the average woman do to help protect her children from gun violence?”

By MARY ANN JACOB

While the epidemic of gun violence in this country causes a ripple effect through families and communities, it affects women particularly hard. Domestic violence, mass shootings, day to day gun violence and suicide rip families apart every day, and women are most often the ones left to pick up the pieces of their families’ lives.

I know this personally, because on Dec.14, 2012, a gunman shot his way into Sandy Hook School while I was working in the library. As the gunman blasted his way through the hallway killing our principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung and our school psychologist Mary Sherlach, then two classrooms where he killed 20 first graders and four more educators, the rest of the staff was frantically hiding and protecting the children in their care.
When those of us who survived went home later that day, the first thing we had to do was be strong for our own children, several of whom also survived the shooting that day, and many of whom were school-aged children in other community schools. I can remember walking up to my front door, putting my hand on the doorknob and thinking, “Pull yourself together, you are about to see your two sons,” before I turned the handle. Within hours of surviving one of the worst mass shootings this country has ever seen, we had no choice but to put aside our own grief and trauma to take care of those around us.

Don’t be fooled, this is not a partisan political issue but a public health crisis like this country hasn’t seen since the outbreak of AIDS.

When the time came to return to school a few weeks later, we were faced with the choice of whether to take care of ourselves or others. The school district floated the idea of bringing in substitute teachers if we were not up to returning, but not one staff member thought the kids should return to a school full of strangers. Without exception, the staff at Sandy Hook School chose to be there to greet the surviving children as they returned to an unfamiliar school in a neighboring town. We held each other up as the days and weeks wore on so we could be there day in and day out for the students…because that’s what women do.
As time progressed and we grew stronger, many of us chose to add our voices to those calling for an end to the gun violence assaulting our schools, churches, offices and homes. We could no longer stand by while more children died day after day.
Eighteen months after the shooting at our school, I reached my own personal tipping point. I watched on TV as the horror unfolded after the shooting in Isla Vista, CA. I was shaken to my core as I watched Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher was killed in that shooting, give his impassioned plea “Not One More” person be taken by gun violence. And I knew then it was my time to stand up and speak out.
I joined Everytown for Gun Safety and learned about the many issues surrounding gun violence in our country today:
+ 96 Americans are killed by guns every day.
+ Black men are 13 times more likely to be shot and killed with a gun than white men.
+ Over 50 women are shot to death by an intimate partner every month.
Who picks up the pieces of these families? Women.
So it’s no surprise that the effort to end gun violence has galvanized women across the country into action. Since the Sandy Hook School shooting millions of people – many of them women, have joined Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America – an organization started by Shannon Watts in her kitchen following the shooting. We have almost as many members as the NRA and they’ve been around for over 100 years longer than we have.
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Following the Feb. 14th shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland, FL., students have taken control of the conversation and infused the movement with new energy. More than 150,000 people have signed up to be volunteers with Moms Demand Action since the Parkland shooting and our movement is only growing stronger.
As I travel around speaking with groups about this epidemic of gun violence, many people thank me and ask me what they can do to help. Women especially, who are tired of seeing their children cry as they board the school bus, or afraid their children will be shot walking home from school in their neighborhood streets, have had enough.
We are marching, calling our elected officials, writing letters, educating others and running for office. This is a grassroots effort that has a place for each and every woman who is willing to take a stand. In 2018, more than 79 women are exploring runs for governor, more than double a record set in 1994. The women challenging incumbents in the US House of Representatives is roughly 350% higher than in 2016. Expect us – we are coming!

                 Women . . . have had enough.

Seven children and teens are killed with guns on an average day and many are the result of adults leaving loaded weapons around where children can find them. The BeSmart campaign teaches families about safe storage in their own homes. Women can lead the way by spreading the word, supporting the program and simply asking if guns are in the homes they visit. PTAs can be instrumental in supporting the effort in individual communities. Women physicians are spreading the word as they meet with families and children in their practices every day. Talking about gun sense should be as routine as pool safety, wearing a helmet on a bicycle and wearing a seatbelt.
Nearly 62% of the firearms deaths in the U.S. are suicides. Suicide is often an impulsive act and survivors rarely make a second attempt. But firearms are the most lethal means of committing suicide and individuals rarely survive the attempt to get treatment. As mothers, sisters and children we have firsthand knowledge of how suicide affects families for generations. Ensuring that our loved ones who may pose a danger to themselves don’t have access to guns is an effective way to reduce these numbers.
Background checks should be required for 100% of gun purchases in all states. We know that over 3,000,000 gun sales to dangerous people have been stopped by them. We can work with our representatives locally and in Washington to ensure that a criminal background check is made on all gun sales. They are the single most effective tool to keep guns out of the hands of people with dangerous mental illnesses. And please, when confronted with the ridiculous argument that criminals don’t follow laws, ask why it is we have any laws at all? We know that car safety has increased because of a comprehensive package of laws that include air bags, graduated licensing laws, stricter DUI enforcement, driver education and speed limits. Do people still speed? Of course, but many lives are saved nonetheless.
In addition to running for office, we as women can research and support candidates who reflect our values. Don’t be fooled, this is not a partisan political issue but a public health crisis like this country hasn’t seen since the outbreak of AIDS. We have the power to choose how we respond every day, and who we choose to represent us at a local, state and national level. Ask each and every candidate who wants your support what their positions are. And if those holding elected office or running for office put the interests of the gun lobby before the safety of our families, it’s time to vote them out. Click here if you’d like to support those efforts: https://everytown.org/throwthemout/
We have learned from the students in Parkland that we don’t need traditional media to keep the conversation going, just our smartphones and some pointed social media work. Corporations are beginning to jump on board one by one and refusing to do business with companies that manufacture guns or support their distribution. You can help drive more change by choosing who you do business with, where you invest your money and where you bank. Let the companies that are doing it right know you support them with your purchases, and for the ones who are getting it wrong, they will learn the hard way.
Finally, pick up your phone and text the word JOIN to 64433. Join us at Everytown for Gun Safety today. We will keep you informed about the issues facing your community as well as nationally. We cannot expect our leaders to change unless we are willing to do the heavy lifting. We know what to do, so let’s get to work. We are women – we can and will do this.

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