National NOW Conference Opens in Detroit, Celebrates Women Taking Charge

Today the National Organization for Women is proud to open its national conference in Detroit, Michigan. The last National NOW Conference in the Motor City was 30 years ago, and women have gained much ground during that time.

In 1977 there were only 20 female members of Congress, and the number of women on Fortune 500 boards was 46. Today, 85 women serve in Congress and the number of women on Fortune 500 boards has quadrupled. Just this year we’ve witnessed the swearing in of the first woman speaker of the House, the naming of the first woman president of Harvard, and the first woman candidate leading the race for president of the United States.

This year’s conference, with the theme “Fast Forward: Women Take Charge,” is a celebration of the impressive achievements by women in politics and other arenas, and a call to the next generation of women leaders to think big and reach for the top. This three-day conference will feature a Young Feminist Leadership Institute and our annual Political Institute, with sessions designed to train grassroots organizers to get out the vote and
to motivate women to run for office. With allies in Congress working to advance women’s issues, and the 2008
election season already underway, the time is now for women to move fast, move forward, and take charge. For the last six years, the Bush administration has trampled on our rights, dragged the country into an unnecessary and deadly war, reshaped the Supreme Court, and governed by its own set of rules. This weekend, we will commit ourselves to changing the face of politics and the course of the nation.

Throughout the weekend, chapter delegates and activists will take on hot topics like misogyny in Hollywood and the media; electing a feminist president; women and war; universal healthcare; media reform in the wake of the Imus controversy; and the impact of the recent Supreme Court decisions on reproductive rights, pay equity and school integration.

This year’s exciting list of speakers includes powerful women in politics, pioneers in social reform, and influential media figures. Jennifer Granholm, the dynamic governor of Michigan, will welcome the crowd with
the first speech of the weekend. Also on Friday, we will hear from former Olympic gold medalist and current president of Women in Cable Telecommunications, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley. The opening day will also include a tribute to former NOW President Judy Goldsmith and the presentation of NOW’s Woman of Action Award to teen e-activist Ava Lowery.

On Saturday, we will devote a plenary session to images of women in the media. Sharing their stories will be Sherry Stringfield, feminist actor and Emmy-nominee for her work on ER; Jill Soloway, writer and producer on
Six Feet Under and now a writer on Grey’s Anatomy; and Chenese Lewis, the first-ever Miss Plus America.

Also speaking on Saturday are Dr. E. Faye Williams, lifelong peace and human rights advocate and national chair of the National Congress of Black Women; author Angie Cruz, who will speak from her experience as a Latina feminist writer committed to changing society and lives through word; women’s rights leader Jewell Jackson McCabe; and Charon Asetoyer, founder of the nation’s first reservation-based resource center for Native American women.

With the inspiration of these thrilling speakers, the wide range of exhilarating workshops, and the energy of women nationwide hungry for change, this year’s NOW conference is sure to make a lasting impact on the struggle for women’s equality.


Contact: Caitlin Gullickson, media[at], 202-628-8669 ext 123