National Organization for Women (NOW) key organizer in Unite Women marches nationwide

Many of us in the Third Wave shy away from joining any organization – even a feminist one.  However, there is definitely strength in numbers and advantages to being part of a group with nationwide reach, extensive history and brand power.

Most of you have heard about the Unite Women marches that took place all around the country this past Saturday, with a final headcount of 47,000.  What you may not know is the invaluable part National Organization for Women (NOW) played in organizing the actions nationwide.  As soon as you visit the http://unitewomen.org/unite/ site, the first picture is of the Action Alert NOW sent to our wide network of feminist supporters to join Unite Women.  Want to keep the momentum going?  Join your local chapter of NOW.

Please find below some examples of NOW members’ participation across the nation – in the press and in their own words.  Within the photos and videos, look for the NOW rounds that say “Young Feminists Mobilizing,” “Keep Abortion Legal,” “End Violence against Women,” and more.

Alabama

Press coverage:

Montgomery, Alabama’s WOW Rally was a great success.  We estimate 300-400 folks came out to support the effort.  Many original thoughts on home made signs, 25 speakers, music, chanting and great weather.  Our speakers included state senators (male & female), civil rights icons, and a few GOP women.  We also had a voter registration table.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UVzMwxu8UNI

Alaska

Press coverage:

We had a great turnout for our rally yesterday, probably three hundred enthusiastic people, mostly women but with a good representation of men who care.

Media:

Arizona

Press coverage:

AZ Unite Women is hoping to attract more than 500 people to the rally, scheduled to feature several speakers including local politicians and representatives from the National Organization for Women.

California

Press coverage:

Organized with the help of NOW member, Somer Leon, the California version of Unite ROCKED.  As hundreds gathered in Sacramento on the steps of the capital building, the recording of her “I’m Not Afraid,” was stopped when the legendary Holly Near took the microphone – the lively rally started in song.  NOW speaker Pat Maginnis reflected her eyewitness accounts of life under abortion criminalization.  Mona Lisa Wallace of NOW received rowdy cheers when reporting ecofeminist legislative and political victories, including the successful California Safe Cosmetics Act and the recent gathering of 850,000 signatures to put Label GMO on the California ballot.  Speakers decried Governor Jerry Brown’s recent proposal to eliminate the California Commission on the Status of Women and cut the budgets of the Offices of Women’s Health and Women’s Health Equality.  Pamela Parker rocked the crowd singing: “The Power of N.O.W. (free download at FeministMusic.com) while the crowd roared.  The rally marched to Fremont Park where more music and speakers gathered in a sunny festival setting, complete with children frolicking in a fountain, face painting, henna tattoos, nutritious and delicious food, and educational tables by:  NOW, Planned Parenthood, World Can’t Wait, SlutWalk, CodePink, Grandmothers for Peace and more.

Connecticut:

Press coverage:

We had an excellent rally at the state capitol yesterday in Connecticut.  I loved the woman in the colonial dress and bonnet who said, “When you enforce morality, you get Salem.”  Senator Blumenthal – a great supporter of women’s issues – spoke about defeating the war on women.

District of Columbia:

Activists gathered in Washington, D.C. to rally for equal opportunities, equal rights, and equal representation.  Many other marches and rallies occurred simultaneously all across the U.S.  Speakers included NOW National Action Vice President Erin Matson.

Media:

Florida:

Florida held rallies in Tallahassee, Orlando, St Petersburg and Ft. Lauderdale.

Press coverage:

Ft. Lauderdale:

Press coverage:

“Our rights, our health, our very existence is under attack,” said Meredith Ockman, president of the National Organization for Women’s Palm Beach County chapter.  The movement Saturday was non-partisan, she said.

“The whole point is to fight the war on women with our allies,” Ockman said.

Those allies included men like Matthew McWatters, legislative director for NOW in Palm Beach County.

He said he stood in support of women and on behalf of his mother, grandmother and 7-year-old niece, Kayla.

“I want her to grow up in a world where she’s in a level playing field with someone who is a man,” he said.

Despite the threatening rains and noise of the South Florida Air Show, the United against the War on Women Rally was a success!  We had about 200 women and men to support our efforts and an incredible line-up!  The speakers included:

I.      FL NOW VP and Palm Beach County NOW President Meredith Ockman
II.      Palm Beach County NOW Legislative Director Matthew McWatters
III.      Broward NOW President Joanne Sterner
IV.      Democratic Women’s Club President (and one of our own NOW members) Maggie Davidson

Media:

Orlando:

Press coverage:

Coordinated by Bonni Axler, Florida NOW Secretary, about 250 women, men and children came out to the Senator Beth Johnson Park.  Some of the speeches:

Media:

  • Toni Van Pelt, NOW Northeast Regional Director’s speech

Powerful Women Joining Forces: “Women are joining forces to halt the tidal wave of male dominated backlash in the halls of Congress and State Legislatures.  We are pushing back and moving forward demanding our human rights and freedom from unwanted intrusions in our right to privacy and happiness.”

  • Dominique Gelin of UCF NOW’s speech on YouTube

Tallahassee:

Press coverage:

Tallahassee Coordinator Diane Wilson announced today, “Women and men who support women will gather on the steps of the Old Capitol from 12 to 2 pm on Saturday, April 28th to stand for women’s rights.”  Wilson said, “UNITE Women is calling on Americans to join together and denounce ongoing legislative and political at tacks on women from the extreme right, while honoring the diversity and continued fight for the freedom of women to choose their own destinies.”

Tallahassee rally partners included Florida NOW, with Donna Slutiak, Florida NOW President, giving a dynamic speech.  Tal​lahassee FL NOW member Diane Wilson was the main organizer, doing everything from obtaining the permit for the march to contacting organizations to come speak at the event, and emceeing the rally.

St Petersburg:

St Petersburg speakers included BJ Star, President West Pinellas NOW, and West Pinellas NOW member Mary Freeman.

Media:

Kansas:

Press coverage:

(TOPEKA, Kan.)  — A group of about 400 Kansas women (and some men) descended on the Kansas Statehouse.  “Today’s rally was part of a national movement that has had enough of the war on women,” rally organizer Kari Ann Rinker says.  Rinker is state coordinator for the National Organization for Women.  She says Kansas women are under assault by laws and policies that impact what she calls “reproductive rights.”  “What we can do is organize at a grassroots level and bring public awareness to these atrocities,” Rinker says.

The Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women organized a rally at the state capitol April 28.  The Kansas march was one of more than 40 across the nation as part of the Unite Women movement put on by the We Are Woman (sic) organization.

The march was organized “in response to the GOP’s war on women,” Kari Ann Rinker, state coordinator of the Kansas NOW chapter, said.

Louisiana

Press coverage:

Minnesota

About 300 people gathered in St. Paul to stand for women’s rights in areas such as: reproduction, abortion, contraception, health care, LGBT equality, workers rights, and rape victim rights.  This was one of many nation-wide events called “Unite Against the War On Women.”  Minnesota State Senator Sandra Pappas (DFL SD-65) spoke at the event, and then returned to the capitol where the legislature was in session.

Media:

Missouri

Press coverage:

In Missouri, nearly 300 people participated in a protest in Jefferson City on the front lawn of the state capitol.

The group criticized laws currently floating in the General Assembly that could limit contraceptive requirements, roll back anti-discrimination rules, and require photo identification for voters.

“With record legislation attacking women’s rights across the country, hundreds of Missouri men and women joined together in Jefferson City to say, ‘Enough is Enough’,” said (NOW member) Courtney Cole, the Missouri event’s organizer.  “Missouri participants joined thousands mobilized to work against the war on women.”

The issue of women’s rights has reemerged this year on the campaign trail.  Democrats are trying to court women on the issue of contraceptive rights and other social issues, while Republicans are trying to earn the women’s vote by targeting economic and family issues.

Speakers slated to appear include …Missouri National Organization for Women (NOW) Vice-President Claire Major.

Montana:

Excellent presence by Montana NOW’s Marian Bradley.  Over 300 people participating with wonderful music, inspiring speeches, lots of tabling and other calls to activism and voter registration!  Contact Montana NOW to keep the momentum rocking & rolling.  Thanks so much and let’s take back our country!

New Jersey:

New York:

Press coverage:

NEW YORK (AP) — Hundreds of protesters have marched in New York City against what they say are setbacks to equal rights and reproductive rights for women.

Saturday’s march against the “war on women” was one of dozens around the country.

Protesters marched from Washington Square down Broadway to Foley Square.

They chanted “Not the church, not the state, women must control their fate.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney invoked the names of New York feminist forebearers such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Jane Hunt before saying, “We have to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.  NOW has been working on the ERA since its inception.

Oklahoma:

Press coverage:

NOW, Trust Women (Julie Burkhart), League of Women Voters, and many other groups were there.

Women’s rights demonstrators rally at Oklahoma Capitol

Benham was among more than 250 protesters Saturday at the state Capitol.

(Look at the NOW.org balloon on the bottom left of the photo)

Oregon:

About 300-500 people showed up to Oregon’s, with great feedback at our table.  We had some great women leaders and candidate speeches, including the NOW supported Congressional Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, our wonderful Secretary of State Kate Brown, and a great candidate for state AG, Ellen Rosenblum.

Pennsylvania

Press coverage:

About 300 people, a mostly female audience, gathered on the state Capitol steps for four hours today as part of a national grassroots movement called United against the War on Women. 

The rallies were held as a show of strength against recent threats to women’s rights on issues ranging from reproductive to economic and human rights.

“We can’t sit back and take it anymore.  We can’t sit back and allow them to erode our lives,” said Julia Ramsey, president of Pennsylvania NOW.

Ramsey, one of about two dozen speakers at the Harrisburg rally, encouraged women in the crowd to speak to their female friends and family and spread the message about fighting back.

“This is a war against us and it affects all of us,” she said.

Virginia

Press coverage:

It was a movement, not a moment, in Richmond, Virginia, where 300 protesters reminded lawmakers that they were neither forgiving nor forgetting the legislature’s decision to force women seeking pregnancy terminations to undergo mandatory vaginal ultrasounds.

“Women are powerful — despite the way we are treated and what we are told,” said Victoria Bragunier, president of the Richmond chapter of the National Organization of Women.

Media:

Keep abortion legal.  She fought 40 years ago, she’s fighting today

Washington State:

Press coverage:

…between three and four hundred people of all ages, genders and backgrounds were in attendance.  I even spotted a group of teenaged boys!  There were a multitude of homemade signs being waved about.  Some of the more creative ones made statements like, “Corporations are people.  Women, not so much,” “Bra Burning Is Over” or “Women Need All the Support They Can get.”

In Sisterhood,
N. Jerin Arifa
National NOW Board of Directors
National NOW Young Feminist Task Force, Chair
NOW – NYS Young Feminist Task Force, Chair
Blog:  YoungFeministTaskForce.blogspot.com
Twitter: JerinNOW

The National Organization for Women is the nation’s largest organization working to advance women’s rights and improve women’s lives.
www.now.org

Board Member
Bella Abzug Leadership Institute
www.abzuginstitute.org

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