The 2014 Defenders of Justice Honorees – Women Leading the Way!

T2014 Doj Moms Rising LWVhis past Tuesday (April 22), member the NC Justice Center held its 16th Annual Defenders of Justice Awards ceremony. Awarded to North Carolina individuals and organizations who are working to create a more equitable and just state for all, it’s a great opportunity to recognize the creative and impactful work being done around the state, many times with few resources and by those performing this work as labors of love. And this year, we looked to the women who are moving North Carolina forward.

With the exception of 1 honoree, this year’s DoJ recipients were all women. And with the exception of one organizational honoree, all the organizations honored were women’s organizations. And those organizations were all members of NCWU! We are proud and honored to be partners with these groups doing such amazing work for North Carolina women.

In the category of Grassroots Empowerment, NC Moms Rising was honored for their creative advocacy that seeks to bring moms’ voices to the policy table in a way that avoid empty platitudes and a narrow vision of what it means to be a mother. By advocating for family friendly work policies, pay equity, subsidized child care and quality early educ2014 DoJ Moms Risingation for all, they practice the true family values that others preach. And as the only state chapter of the

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national Moms Rising organization, they are leading the way for a new model of organizing moms locally.




2014 DoJ PP retroIn the category of Public Research and Advocacy, both Planned Parenthood Health Systems of North Carolina and Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina were honored for their massive organizing and advocacy efforts to combat the sustained assault on women’s reproductive rights that came from the NC General Assembly in 2013. In the 12 hours separating the evening of July 02, 2013 and the morning of July 03, 2013, both Planned Parenthoods, aided by NCWU and our members, used all of their networks to bring approximately 600 supporters of women’s reproductive rights to the General Assembly in Raleigh to protest the surprise abortion restrictions bill that had been inserted into the “anti-Sharia law” legislation. It was the sneak attack that signaled that the legislature was determined to turn back years of progress on women’s health and rights, will of the people and advice of medical experts be damned. That started a summer of protest, political theater and a plate of cookies; none of that was enough to stop the avalanche of some of the most restrictive abortion legislation anywhere in the country, though. But it did reinvigorate a movement, and launch new partnerships. Instead of using this time in NC’s history to hunker down, Planned Parenthood continues to rise to the challenge and stand up for the rights of all NC women.

I’m pleased to say that when Paige Johnson, VP External and Government Affairs, PPCNC, asked the crowd who was ready to stand up for women’s rights, I’m pretty sure all the hands went up.

2014 DoJ LWVAlso in the category of Public Research and Advocacy, two chapters of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of North Carolina – Piedmont Triad and Charlotte-Mecklenburg – were also honored. I sometimes wonder if people don’t really understand what vital voter protection and education services the LWV of today offers. Voting guides, candidate forums, and in North Carolina, they are party to a lawsuit against the state regarding its new election law. But the LWV is about more than voting; they believe that making democracy work has many components, and this past year, these two chapters championed Medicaid expansion, immigration reform, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). From community seminars on the ACA to speaking at state-wide Moral Monday protests, these women are making sure we have a democracy for all of us, not just those of us most able to participate.

Truthfully, the packed banquet hall at the UNC William and Ida Friday center was filled with NC Defenders of Justice – just being there to support the NC Justice Center means you are willing to invest in moving NC forward, and there were so many great organizations represented in that room, as well as individual supporters willing to play whatever role they can in bringing justice to this state. Congratulations again to our members, and all of the DoJ honorees. Long may they advocate.

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Tara Romano, President, NCWU