Why I’m Going to the NOW Conference Friday July 29

If you’re a long-time NOWie – or even new to the Mother of Feminist Organizations (as I like to think) – you know things could be improved. Well, looks like the Board is trying, and as a former national NOW Board member, I know it took a lot of energy to get that started. Anyhow…at this year’s national conference, starting Friday in Baltimore, a series of workshops about modernizing NOW’s structure will take place.

Personally, I can’t wait to hear what people have to say.

Click here for the schedule, logistics and more. You can register on-site at the conference – it’s at the Hilton at BWI Airport, about half-mile from the airport – and there is a sliding scale.

NOW’s structure has not been addressed comprehensively since the 1970s, as the NOW conference webpage says. Well, that’s not exactly true. They did stop sending tons of paper – reports and notes and minutes and memos — by US Mail, in large dull yellow envelopes, a few years ago. That paper piled up into mountains, or so it seemed. But the chapter structure is the same, despite the fact people don’t go to meetings the way they used to. The issues are the same, despite the fact that there have been many improvements for women (is it ok to admit that?). The overall mentality is much the same. And believe it or not, a lot of the leadership is the same, holding the line and often refusing to change.

Is there hope? The conference webpage says, “Think how the world around us has changed since then! NOW, too, must change.”

It goes on:
“National Board and NOW/PAC members got together in February to give serious consideration to possible changes aimed at optimizing what is working well and fixing what is not. The board made a good start on a discussion we believe the entire organization needs to engage in. That includes you! Join this crucial conversation about strengthening NOW to meet the opportunities and challenges of the 21st Century. The workshops will cover grassroots action, membership, money, states and chapters, and the national board and officers.”

So…hundreds of women’s rights activists will gather in Baltimore for the conference, June 29 – July 1. This year’s conference, entitled “Energize! Organize! Stop the War on Women,” will focus on key issues that have been under attack, such as contraception coverage and the Violence Against Women Act, and NOW will adopt an agenda for the year ahead that addresses the ongoing War on Women.

The conference also features an impressive line-up of speakers including playwright Eve Ensler, performer and author of The Vagina Monologues; Krystal Ball, new co-host of MSNBC’s The Cycle; and Tamika Mallory, executive director of one of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations, National Action Network, to name a few.

Special honorees will include Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D- N.Y.), who will receive NOW’s first-ever first Woman of Impact Award, for her political leadership and outstanding support of women’s rights on Capitol Hill. Georgetown law graduate Sandra Fluke, who was prevented from testifying at a congressional briefing on birth control, will receive a Woman of Courage Award.

Conference attendees can also look forward to a Mothers and Caregivers Summit, networking opportunities and dozens of workshops and discussions on hot topics ranging from how to fight hate crimes and racism to harassment in the workplace.

See you there.

Click here for the schedule, logistics and more. You can register on-site at the conference and there is a sliding scale.

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