Women’s Advocacy Day, Part II

HKonJ2015 ncwu bannerWe were so, so disappointed when we had to cancel our Women’s Advocacy Day last Tuesday (February 24) due to inclement weather (lousy snow!).  We had over 200 of you registered from around the state, and we were so looking forward to hearing dream hampton speak (and we know you were, too). It was shaping up to be a powerful day.

But as everyone knows – “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” (Eleanor Roosevelt). While our cancellation was not (quite) that level of crisis, we were grateful to receive so much support from so many strong women. Some of us were able to show up, and went off to meet the legislators we could get meetings with.  And plenty of our members and supporters let us know they were ready to bundle up the kids, jump in the car, and be there as needed. We appreciated all of this support; it’s always a nice to be reminded of the many people you can count on when push comes to shove.

We are currently planning our rescheduled date, including figuring out how dream hampton may still be involved. We hope to announce our new date soon (it will likely be later this spring). We were not able to bring our voices en masse to the NCGA last week, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still be advocates. As the long session gets rolling, there will still be a lot of legislation passed (or not passed) that will impact women; and some of it will probably be harmful. The time for your voice is now. There are a lot of societal narratives out there – stories we tell ourselves – that have little basis in reality. In fact, they’re stereotypes and tropes – women “getting themselves pregnant”; women always have a (male) partner to pay the bills; women “choosing” to leave their jobs because it’s just too much to juggle when raising children; women lying about sexual and domestic violence because they are vindictive, want attention, etc. You get the picture. And policy is crafted based on these narratives, in ways that is not for (white, straight) men. And that’s a problem.

This is why we bring our voices, to change this narrative. In 2015 North Carolina, the reality is:

– that a quality, solid educational foundation is critical stepping stone to our future economic security and equality, as well as the future of our society; it’s not a luxury only for a few with means.

– that more and more women work hard to support their families, and many of us are a significant contributor –if not the sole contributor – to our family’s economic security.

– that many of us likely know someone who has had an abortion; and most certainly know someone who uses birth control.

– that we likely know someone who has experienced – or have experienced ourselves – sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape or domestic abuse.

– that many women are facing additional barriers based on their race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender expression, age, immigration and disability status; creating policies for women that ignore those intersections will never move women forward.

We need to tell our stories, and those of our families, neighbors and friends. We have to change these narratives that have little to no basis in reality for many of us. Be on the look out for our rescheduled advocacy day – but take the time to check out our agenda, and make a call or send an email (or even a letter) to your representative about an issue that is important to you. Your voice matters.

We put a lot of time and effort into our canceled Women’s Advocacy Day, and we don’t regret any of it. We know this is just the start of something big. We’ll see you at the NCGA soon.

Tara Romano, NCWU President