Today the National Organization for Women opens its 2010 National NOW Conference at a critical time for women’s rights. Hundreds of feminist leaders and activists have gathered in Boston, Mass., to share information, ideas and strategies for addressing the huge challenges before us.
These hurdles include a rash of state restrictions on women’s legal right to abortion — laws that threaten women’s health, violate their bodily integrity and relegate them to second-class status. With the mid-term elections just four months away, this conference offers NOW an opportunity to motivate its grassroots to get out the vote for candidates who promise to champion women’s rights. Sending the Tea Party and faux feminist candidates packing is high on our supporters’ to-do list for November, and we aim to help them with that mission.
This year’s conference carries the optimistic theme of “Loving Our Bodies, Changing the World.” In this spirit, a number of sessions will address a wide range of women’s health issues, the still-pressing need for single-payer health insurance, recovering from domestic violence, the media’s negative impact on women’s body image, and much more.
What else does NOW have on the agenda? A number of incredible speakers, including local favorites, such as: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Tom Menino, State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Wellesley College President Kim Bottomly, and Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral. We will hear from a host of progressive leaders, policy experts, medical professionals and media figures, like Democracy Now! Host Amy Goodman and celebrated author Susan Douglas. We will honor the founders of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, creators of the groundbreaking book Our Bodies, Ourselves, with our first-ever Victoria J. Mastrobuono Women’s Health Award. And, in addition to health, our impressive line-up of speakers will tackle the topics of the state of the feminist movement, women of color and empowerment, expanding abortion access, and electoral politics. With this exciting program, there’s sure to be a moving message and an inspiring individual for everyone.
In fact, this year’s festivities even include a wedding ceremony and reception. What could be more fitting, with Massachusetts one of the few states to acknowledge the constitutional right of same-sex marriage, than for longtime partners and NOW activists Shirley and Joan to tie the knot right at the national conference?
That’s what makes NOW’s annual assembly a unique event. Women’s rights supporters come from across the country looking for camaraderie, solidarity and inspiration. And NOW delivers it — in as many methods and flavors as possible. After all the feminist fireworks are done, our participants will return home fired up and prepared to press forward on the long and often bumpy road toward women’s full equality.