2017 National NOW Conference Resolutions

passed July 2, 2017


ADVANCE VOTING RIGHTS: 2017-2018 NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAM RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, extremist right wing legislators in many states rushed to enact voting restrictions that intentionally disenfranchise millions of people; and

WHEREAS, right wing lawmakers have systematically removed voting resources from low income and minority communities, including shutting down voting sites, refusing to update voting machines, and failing to adequately train polling volunteers; and

WHEREAS, unconstitutional racial gerrymandering across states such as North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia have diluted the impact of the Black and Latino vote, creating a super-majority for white conservative legislators in those states; and

WHEREAS, felon disenfranchisement– a long-time voter suppression tactic– has suppressed the African American vote dramatically in the state of Florida; one in four African Americans in Florida cannot vote due to felon disenfranchisement; and

WHEREAS, voter ID laws that place undue financial burden on the elderly, immigrant populations, and lower income persons have increased exponentially over the past two years; and

WHEREAS, curbs to early and absentee voting dramatically undermine the voting power of women– and African American women in particular who make up 36 percent of early voters; and

WHEREAS, Election Day is not a federal holiday, with the result that many people– particularly hourly waged workers who are disproportionately women of color– are unable to take the day off to vote; and

WHEREAS, the Trump Administration and Republican leaders in Congress have created a false narrative around virtually non-existent “voter fraud” to justify voter suppression; and

WHEREAS, women are overwhelmingly underrepresented in political offices across the board, and those numbers are even lower for women of color; and

WHEREAS, having feminist women in political office promotes the introduction of legislation that bolsters the rights of women and families;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the National Organization for Women (NOW)’s 2017-2018 National Action Program will include an “Advance Voting Rights” campaign to stop voter suppression schemes at the local, state judicial, and national levels; increase awareness about the disproportionate impact of voter suppression on women and especially women of color, low income persons, seniors, and younger people; and pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act to stop gerrymandering intended to discriminate against communities of color and women voters, voter purging, and disenfranchisement; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW will work with our allies and coalition partners in support of state-level legislative, electoral, and litigation strategies to combat instances of voter suppression, including partisan suppression, especially in states such as North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Florida, Michigan, Georgia, and Alabama; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW will work with NOW PAC and its allies to elect feminist candidates, especially women and other marginalized people, to local, state, judicial, and federal office, and to educate voters about the high stakes for women in local, state, judicial, and federal elections in 2017 and 2018.


END THE CRIMINALIZATION OF SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE AND OTHER TRAUMA: 2017-2018 NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAM RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, one in three teenaged girls in the United States report being a survivor of sexual violence, with young women of color and those who identify as LGBTQIA+ being particularly vulnerable; and

WHEREAS, the number of girls in the juvenile justice system is on the rise, which is directly related to a) being pushed out of schools where trauma-related services are not available and b) the fact that despite being too young to legally consent, survivors of child sex trafficking are still viewed in many jurisdictions as perpetrators and arrested as such; and

WHEREAS, school systems that punish rather than provide appropriate services to girls and young women who are exhibiting behaviors resulting from trauma and/or sexual abuse are failing to provide the equitable educational opportunity to which the girls are entitled under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; and

WHEREAS these phenomena are all part of a larger problem which is the criminalization of trauma; and

WHEREAS in 2016-2017 the National Action Program produced resources for activists to engage with their school districts, boards, and Title IX Coordinators to urge the provision of trauma-related services to students, and the elimination of zero-tolerance policies and other extreme measures that unfairly target girls of color;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW)’s 2017-2018 National Action Program will include a campaign to “End the Criminalization of Trauma” (ECT) to address the issue of school push-out among trauma survivors, ensuring that a) all schools have a properly trained Title IX Coordinator, who can not only handle cases of sexual assault but also be trained to identify it; b) schools train faculty and staff on identifying students who are in need of trauma-informed services; c) schools develop protocols and provide services for traumatized students to ensure an equal education opportunity for survivors, allowing them to stay in school and recover from trauma; d) schools provide services and resources in needed languages; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the ECT campaign will include an awareness raising component–among members, candidates for public office and the general public–about the broader issue of the criminalization of trauma, and the importance of understanding how trauma impacts girls and in particular girls of color and LGBTQIA+ students. The campaign will work with allies such as Rights4Girls–authors of the Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline report–—and education groups such as teacher unions and others to lift up the stories of girls and young women who are caught up in the juvenile and criminal justice systems and to collaborate on legislative solutions; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW will work with NOW PAC and its allies to ensure that political candidates are educated on this issue and support the rights of all girls, especially girls of color and gender non-conforming students, to access and continue their education.


MOBILIZE FOR REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE: 2017-2018 NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAM RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, NOW’s 2016-17 National Action Program included an action campaign to press for the expansion of women's access to abortion care and birth control through litigation and legislative initiatives; and

WHEREAS, although right-wing lawmakers blocked pro-reproductive rights legislation in the 114th Congress, NOW and its allies secured a major Supreme Court victory in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt which ruled the Texas clinic shutdown law unconstitutional; and

WHEREAS, under current law– the Affordable Care Act (ACA)– 55 million women have access to vital preventative care including contraception, mammograms, pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV/AIDS, and screenings for cervical cancer and STDs, and tens of millions of previously uninsured people are now covered; and

WHEREAS, the Trump Administration and extremists in the 115th Congress are moving aggressively to repeal the ACA and replace it with a bill– the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA)– which would cut $880 billion from Medicaid, allow insurers to charge exorbitant rates for coverage of such services as maternity care and mental health care, and allow insurers to price people with “pre-existing conditions” out of coverage altogether, while giving corporations, billionaires, and millionaires nearly $1 trillion in tax breaks; and

WHEREAS, the Trump Administration has reinstated the Global Gag Rule, signed a law allowing states to block funding for Title X family planning clinics, and is working with extremists in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood nationwide and make the Hyde Amendment permanent law; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Senate’s recent confirmation of right-wing Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, after illegitimately blocking President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to that seat, leaves the reproductive rights of women hanging in the balance;

WHEREAS, access to reproductive health care is a matter of life and death for women, but is also an issue of economic and racial justice;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW will include in its 2017-2018 National Action Program a campaign to “Mobilize for Reproductive Justice” (MRJ) to stop the repeal of the ACA and demand improvements; ensure Medicaid patients’ access to Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide comprehensive reproductive care including abortion; and pass legislation that would expand women’s access to the full range of reproductive health services such as the EACH Woman Act, the Women’s Health Protection Act, the Access to Birth Control Act, and others; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this campaign will include mobilizing NOW leaders, members, and activists to be in constant contact with their members of Congress through phone calls, letters, emails, attendance at town hall meetings, and face to face meetings with their members of Congress, educating voters on how members of Congress voted on the bill to repeal the ACA, and raising awareness of the stakes for women in the 2018 mid-term elections; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW urges NOW PAC to recruit, endorse, and work to elect progressive feminist candidates, especially women of color, who will make it a top priority to address the economic, racial, and social justice aspects of women’s access to reproductive health care.


PROTECT IMMIGRANT RIGHTS: 2017-2018 NATIONAL ACTION RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) supports the human rights of women and girls, regardless of their immigration status; and

WHEREAS, NOW affirms the human rights of asylum and movement as recognized in the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and

WHEREAS, the NOW rejects the xenophobic fear-mongering used to justify denial of basic human services such as education and healthcare, mass incarceration and deportation of undocumented immigrants, tearing families apart and denying thousands due process; and

WHEREAS, the Trump Administration’s “Muslim Ban” is a blatant attack on religious freedom and an attempt to perpetuate dangerous and false narratives regarding Muslims and international terrorism — propaganda that NOW has worked to counter since 2001; and

WHEREAS, women and girls make up 51 percent of undocumented immigrants and the Women’s Refugee Commission has confirmed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is conducting raids targeting parents and other sponsors of unaccompanied migrant children; and

WHEREAS, immigrant women’s access to employment-based visas is disproportionate because the U.S. immigration system prioritizes STEM professions where women are grossly underrepresented; and

WHEREAS, undocumented women are three to six times more likely to experience domestic abuse than their US-born counterparts, and more likely not to report that violence as a result of their immigrant status; and

WHEREAS, over 11 million undocumented immigrants are vulnerable to human trafficking and abuse from lack of labor standards enforcement; the restaurant industry alone employs over 1.1 million undocumented immigrants and 52% of all restaurant workers are women; and

WHEREAS, NOW continues to build upon its strong history advocating for the rights of immigrant women including the founding of the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights in 2013, participation in nationwide demonstrations that demand comprehensive immigration reform, and support of Senator Mazie Hirono’s 2013
amendment to Bill S.744 that provided an equitable scale for work visas that focus on industries dominated by women; and

WHEREAS, in the proud tradition of the 1980’s U.S. sanctuary movement to protect and support Central American refugees fleeing violence, a new sanctuary movement is arising in the form of sanctuary cities, counties, states, and school districts, where local agencies follow all legal requirements but also exercise their sovereign jurisdictional authority to refuse to interrogate people about their immigration status on behalf of Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE); and

WHEREAS this new movement includes sanctuary restaurants and sanctuary homes, in which employers of restaurant workers and domestic workers comply with all laws, but also respect their immigrant workers’ dignity, human rights, and constitutional rights;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW will include in its 2017-2018 National Action Program, a campaign to “Protect Immigrant Rights” that focuses on the unique abuses now faced by immigrant women as a direct result of the Trump Administration such as the “Muslim ban”, the incarceration of undocumented immigrant families in detention centers, and a decrease in reports of domestic and sexual assaults on undocumented women for fear of deportation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this campaign will encourage its activists and leaders to mobilize around the sanctuary movement including sanctuary or welcoming restaurants, homes, school districts, cities, counties and states– through partnerships with allied organizations like Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United and Hand in Hand, the Domestic Employers Network Sanctuary Homes; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this campaign will raise awareness on the variety of resources available to legal and undocumented immigrants, including but not limited to: the ACLU’s ‘Know Your Rights’ initiative, the Immigrant Defense Project’s ICE Raid toolkit, United We Dream’s Deportation Defense cards, and other tools that help protect immigrants and immigrant communities.


RATIFY THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT: 2017-2018 NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAM RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW)’s National Action Program (NA Program) includes a campaign to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (ERA); and

WHEREAS, the text of the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”

WHEREAS, this campaign has mobilized activists online and on the ground to support both the three-state and start-over strategies as well as state-level ERAs; and

WHEREAS, Nevada became the 36th State to ratify the ERA, underscoring growing momentum to be capitalized on along the road to Constitutional gender equity; and

WHEREAS, ratification efforts continue in ERA target states such as Virginia, Illinois, North Carolina, and Florida, and state-level ERA legislation is moving forward in Maine, Louisiana, and Delaware; and WHEREAS, 72% of individuals think that the ERA is already an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and many feminist activists are not aware of efforts to ratify the ERA; and

WHEREAS, the continuation of ERA advocacy relies on the unification of feminist activists of diverse social and cultural identities: sex, age, race, class, sexual orientation, religion, ability, nationality, gender, and other axes of identity;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW will include in its 2017-18 NA Program the continuation of its campaign to “Ratify the ERA;” and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this campaign will include working with state NOW organizations and other allied organizations in their efforts to ratify the national ERA and/or to pass a state-level ERA; mobilizing for passage of legislation in Congress supportive of the three-state and start-over strategies; and the use of digital advocacy such as NOW’s “Visions for Equality” awareness-raising microsite to uplift storytelling and increase the number of younger online activists who know the status of the national ERA and support its ratification; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, NOW will promote diverse and intersectional interpretations of constitutional equality that reflect the many lived experiences of those of diverse social and cultural identities: age, race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex and expression, immigration status, religion, ability, nationality, gender, and other axes of identity in the United States.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW urges NOW PAC and State and Local NOW PACS to recruit, endorse, and work to elect progressive feminist candidates, especially women of color, who will make it a top priority to address the ratification of the ERA.


RESIST RESILIENCE AND GRIT CAMPAIGN TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST INDIGENOUS WOMEN

WHEREAS, as of 2017, NOW does not have policy supporting the 2007 United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the minimum standard for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world; and

WHEREAS, it is the ten-year Anniversary of the United Nations Resolution on 18 December 2007 eliminating rape and other forms of sexual violence in all their manifestations, including in conflict and related situations, and recognizing that rape can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide and that NOW does not have a statement, policy or action about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women; and

WHEREAS, recognizing that (1) indigenous peoples experience the highest levels of poverty, marginalization and forcible relocation, which contributes to the destruction of their social and political structures and results in physical and spiritual dislocation in the US and worldwide, and (2) there is an urgency to protect indigenous women’s autonomy and control over their traditional lands in a time of impinging material and economic interests of states and non-state entities, and (3) NOW has not yet made a stand with a policy endorsing our indigenous women and allies who are demanding emancipation to attain free, prior and informed consent of indigenous women's rights; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW supports and encourages chapters and states to implement a creative, interactive multimedia “Resist, Resilience and Grit Campaign” in solidarity to re-educate the agents of oppression on the issues of indigenous rights, contamination of water, and violence against women; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW encourages chapters and states to develop a campaign to End Violence Against Women and Allies on Indigenous Lands; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW endorses the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a means to protect the rights of indigenous women while working with them to contribute toward the solutions to some of our present-day challenges; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW encourages chapters and states, as a signal to all local enforcement agencies, the National Guard and the military, to support a citizens’ suit against those attacking Human Rights Defenders, Water Protectors, Land Defenders, et al. at Standing Rock.


NOW RESOLUTION TO ENDORSE CITIES FOR CEDAW CAMPAIGN – 2017

WHEREAS, because Women’s Rights are Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (“CEDAW”) is a landmark international agreement that affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world which obligates those countries that have ratified or acceded to it to take “all appropriate measures” to ensure the full development and advancement of women in all spheres—political participation, education, employment, health care, housing, economic, personal and community safety, social, legal, marriage and family relations; and

WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has passed numerous Resolutions of support calling for the U.S. government to Ratify CEDAW, outlined NOW member campaigns and calls to action in 1997, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2009, but the United States (U.S.) has neither ratified nor acceded to CEDAW – one of only 4 nations out of 193 – and appears very unlikely to do so; and

WHEREAS, diverse feminist leadership in the United States led by the nearly 200 organizational-member CEDAW Task Force of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Cities for CEDAW Campaign have determined that a U.S. Cities strategy to pass Ordinances at local levels with grassroots campaigns result in the implementation of comprehensive women’s human rights contained in CEDAW; and

WHEREAS, more than 25 communities across the U.S. have passed Ordinances or Resolutions as Cities for CEDAW, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, Louisville, Honolulu, Miami-Dade County, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati; plus more than 40 cities located in such diverse states such as North Carolina, Maine, New York, Illinois and Montana are in the process of exploring becoming a City for CEDAW;

WHEREAS, becoming a City for CEDAW requires 1) a gender analysis of city departments and operations (such as policies, programs and budgets) that address barriers to the full equality for women and girls, 2) an oversight body to monitor the implementation of a local CEDAW Ordinance and 3) funding to support the implementation of the principles of CEDAW – assuring that our RIGHTS are REAL; and

WHEREAS, support of the Cities for CEDAW Campaign fully incorporates a women’s human rights framework and gender equality will complement and strengthen the campaigns for U.S. Constitutional Equality with the Ratification of an Equal Rights Amendment;

WHEREAS, because NOW maintains Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) consultative status with the United Nations, supports a NOW Global Feminist Issues and Strategies Task Force, ensuring
exchanges of local and global strategies and best practices will strengthen Cities for CEDAW implementation;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Organization for Women endorse the Cities for CEDAW Campaign which is a grass-roots movement joined by the Leadership Conference on Civil andHuman Rights, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women/New York, the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, the Women’s InterCultural Network, along with the U.S. Conference of Mayors whose 2014 Resolution calls for support of 100 Cities to adopt Ordinances for CEDAW; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW encourage NOW Chapters to explore Cities for CEDAW campaigns in their communities or support existing Cities for CEDAW Ordinances/Resolutions using the existing Took Kit and other resources developed by the Cities for CEDAW Campaign (www.citiesforcedaw.org); and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the Global Feminist Issues and Strategies Task Force work in collaboration with the Action Center and state and chapter NOW leadership to implement this Resolution.


RESOLUTION TO SUPPORT EFFORTS TO PREVENT HIGH COST PREDATORY LENDING

WHEREAS, NOW commends the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and its Director Richard Cordray for their efforts to fight against predatory loan products such as payday loans and car title loans that have forced and held women and communities of color, among others, into the debt trap; and

WHEREAS, many short term, small dollar loans, including payday loans, tend to be associated with exorbitant interest rates and other high cost, wealth stripping fees. Typical interest rates for these loans exceed 300 percent; and

WHEREAS, most payday borrowers make less than $30,000 a year and nearly half default on a payday loan — compared to only 3 percent of standard bank loan borrowers — despite the fact that most of those who default actually pay fees in excess of the original principal. Payday loans trap people in cycles of debt that drain local economies and result in a cascade of financial consequences, such as increased overdraft fees, delayed medical care, and even bankruptcy; and

WHEREAS, studies have repeatedly shown that the wealth-stripping effects of predatory lending practices have a disproportionate impact on women, families of color, and low-wealth families, robbing households of wages and savings that could otherwise be reinvested into wealth-building and into local neighborhoods and communities; and

WHEREAS, women make up roughly sixty percent of all payday loan customers. Payday loan use is even higher among single mothers. Payday loans are primarily used to pay for household expenses –
expenses that tend to be the responsibility of women; and

WHEREAS, short term, small dollar lenders including payday and car title lenders collect over $8 billion in penalties and fees from borrowers on an annual basis; and

WHEREAS, many high-cost, small-dollar lenders do not assess a borrower’s ability to repay a loan, considering both income and expenses, and in fact intentionally rely on the unaffordability of these loans to extract huge profits from borrowers stuck in the debt trap cycle; and

WHEREAS, women overwhelmingly support strengthening regulation of payday loans. Seventy-two percent of women say that passing additional regulation of the payday lending industry is important to them. Seventy-five percent of women support the CFPB’s proposal to regulate payday lenders; and

WHEREAS, subsequent to extensive research of payday lending practices, the CFPB is currently engaged in the rulemaking process for rules that have the potential to end the debt trap created by unaffordable high-cost, small-dollar loans by ensuring that lenders require that borrowers have an ability to repay their loans; and

WHEREAS, NOW strongly condemns abusive, predatory, wealth-stripping lending practices in all forms, particularly those that disproportionately target women, communities of color and low-wealth families;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, NOW supports efforts by the CFPB to rein in the abusive, further impoverishing practices of predatory lenders; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW supports adoption of strong rules to protect consumers across the country, requiring high-cost small dollar lenders to ensure loans are affordable when considering borrowers’ income and expenses, and to ensure the loans can be repaid without refinancing or defaulting; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, NOW supports state legislation to end predatory loan debt trap establishing an interest rate cap of 36% or less to protect against triple-digit interest rate loans; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW encourages the CFPB (www.consumerfinance.gov) to adopt rules that encompass tactics used by predatory lenders to evade regulation.