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National NOW Times >> Fall 2002 >> Article

Voices from the 2002 National NOW Conference

Emma Peters-Axtell, age 15, speaking about her friend and sister editor of New Moon magazine for girls, Ana Grossman, age 14:
"Ana's goal is to be a lawyer and one day run for president of the United States. A lot of people also think that Ana wants to be the first [woman] president, which she doesn't. She says, 'You know, it's going to be 20 years before I can even run ... and that is way too long for this country to wait for a woman president.'"

Jeffrey Anderson, St. Paul civil rights attorney, who over the last 20 years has filed more than 500 lawsuits against the Catholic church and other religious institutions for the sexual abuse of women, men and children:
"There are statutes of limitations across this country that protect perpetrators ... the laws say you have a certain amount of time to bring a claim or report it to the police for it to be prosecuted if you've been sexually abused. And they don't recognize the dynamic — that this is a crime of power and secrecy. And when a child or a vulnerable adult is being sexually abused by a caregiver, a priest, or in the name of love or God, they suffer in secrecy, silence and shame, and are overwhelmed with confusion and unable to report and recognize it as abuse ... they need more time to come forward and report it and to take their power back."

Eleanor Smeal, founder and president of the Feminist Majority and a 2002 NOW Woman of Vision:
"We must take very great pride in the fact that it was the feminists who pointed out that the Taliban was a terrorist organization. Let there be no mistake, we were the first people. Long before September 11, we said they were a terrorist organization."

Beverly Watts, president of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies:
"We need to be aware of where there are people being placed at peril when they want to speak up. It is happening and we need to be aware of it and we need to work with local communities. [T]here are few activists' voices in these communities and they need resources and they need help."

Susan Phillips, international vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union:
"Now in 2002, the biggest employer in the country is Wal-Mart. They pay sub-standard wages, they offer terrible health benefits that most people cannot afford anyway, and they virtually freeze their workers out of pensions. Is this the standard we want for American workers? Is this the standard we want for our daughters and our granddaughters? Hell no! And that's why this isn't just a fight for unions or even a fight for Wal-Mart workers, it is a fight for all of us."

The late Patsy Mink, representative from Hawaii, co-author of Title IX and a 2002 NOW Woman of Vision:
"We have to build things that we want to see accomplished — in life and in our country — based on our own personal experiences ... this experience builds your inner commitment to work hard, to do something about it, to make sure that others who come behind [you] do not have to suffer the same discrimination that you did. And, that is really the story of Title IX."

Kim Gandy, NOW president:
"Do you know what it means if there is just one more bad judge appointed to the Supreme Court? . . . It's not the rest of George Bush's term. It's not three years or seven years or nine years or twelve years. It's 35 years. It's the entire reproductive life of my nine-year-old daughter before we can get our reproductive rights back."

Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California:
"Get them young, get them prepared, get them ready, get them in there, get the power! That is how we can do it ... the House is about seniority, that is how you get the power in your hands ... For the first time rather than it being a young man coming into the Congress, they are seeingmore and more that we as women are getting ready and entering the House of Representatives, and in just a few short years what that means for us is that it won't be 'Mr. Chairman' any longer."

Jo Dee Flockhart, winner of a sexual harassment and gender bias lawsuit against the Iowa Beef Processors, and a 2002 NOW Woman of Courage:
"Life has turned a new leaf because of two women who believed in me ... when life seemed so unfair these women made me strong to take a stance and to fight for the justice of all women in the workplace. The fight for our sisters for equality in the workplace will still exist but as each step we take, the wall of injustice crumbles, until one day it will be rubble and we will all have equality."

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota:
"Sisters, we do not enjoy equality in our own nation, and we must demand an Equal Rights Amendment to the constitution!"

Captain Brenda Berkman, groundbreaking firefighter and a 2002 NOW Woman of Courage:
"As women rescue workers were invisible in the post-9/11 picture, women from all over the country expressed dismay over the lack of recognition of the fact that women are patriotically serving their communities alongside of their male co-workers every day ... Our efforts to bring women's contributions to light do not minimize the contributions of men, rather it makes our country stronger to show the world that all of our people serve and sacrifice for our country."

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