Virginia Chapter
National Organization for Women

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There aren’t sufficient words to describe the depth of sorrow women are feeling at the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We are shattered. We are broken. We feel that we have lost more than a dear and admired friend. Our country has lost a feminist champion.
 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not only a historic Supreme Court Justice, but also a political and cultural icon for the ages, and a feminist legend. She fought for and protected women’s rights every single day.
 
NOW recognizes all that she contributed to women and girls, to America, to our world, in terms of equality and possibilities. NOW’s work is an extension of amazing leaders, amazing women, amazing sheroes, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That she did her work in the face of sexism throughout her life, and while battling cancer in the last chapters of her life, speaks to the power of showing up, of enduring, of advocating no matter what.
 
Justice Ginsburg’s spirit, her soul, and her power, will be with us forever.
Today, Women’s Equality Day, marks a century since women finally won the vote and began to have a true voice in our democracy.
 
Watch this inspiring short video by
our partner, The Turning Point Suffrage Memorial:
.be" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Commemorating Courage: The American Suffrage Movement
 
The certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution did not end the battle for full civic participation, as states and individuals immediately began to suppress the vote for Black, Latina, Native American, and Asian American women and communities of color as a whole. Read about NOW's Sisters-in-Suffrage. It would take another 45 years and the passage of the Voting Rights Act for more equitable access to the ballot box. And stubborn relics of oppression - such as onerous voter ID laws, purging of voter rolls and efforts to undermine mail-in ballots, which is especially dangerous in this era of COVID-19 - still exist and can affect the November election results. 
 
The vote is about far more than casting a ballot; it is about recognizing that all people are equal and have an equal voice in our society. Indeed, that is why the vote is so threatening to those who seek to disenfranchise women and communities of color and uphold racism and patriarchy. They understand the power that comes from all citizens having a say in the future of this country. 
 
Today is also a time to recognize other ways in which we still are striving for parity. The narrowing of the gender pay gap has slowed to a near standstill in the last 10 years, especially for women of color. Equal pay legislation, access to paid sick leave, health care, a higher national minimum wage, and other critical protections for women are vitally needed, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. We must also finally enshrine the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. We are closer than ever and we will see victory, just as we did with the 19th Amendment 100 years ago today.  
 
This year’s centennial may not be filled with large public gatherings, but the best way we can celebrate this milestone is to make our voices heard at the ballot box (or the mailbox) this November.
 
Take action RIGHT NOW to honor the millions of women who fought for the right to vote by forwarding this email to 5 others.

The National Organization for Women Political Action Committee (NOW PAC) is proud and excited to announce its endorsement of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for president and vice president of the United States of America.

Our nation has waited centuries for this moment and our members have spent four years preparing for this moment—to reject the misogyny, racism and corruption of the Trump presidency and bring honor, decency, justice and feminist leadership to the White House.

Women have been demanding this day for far too long.

We have been waiting since Abigail Adams reminded her husband to ‘remember’ the ladies, since Sojourner said ‘ain’t I a woman,’ since Ida B. Wells strode to the front of the line and took her rightful place in a suffragist march. And in the 100 years since women demanded and achieved the vote, since the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were signed in ’64 and ’65, and in the 56 years since NOW was founded.

We are going to have a woman vice president and she will get there because we’re ready to truly win.

Kamala Harris is the daughter of immigrants who frequently speaks of her heritage and the inspiration she draws from her Jamaican and Indian parents. She is a Black woman who recognizes that she stands “on the shoulders” of giants who came before her, especially those like Shirley Chisholm, one of the original founders of NOW and the woman who received NOW’s first presidential endorsement. As she recently told an interviewer, “[Chisolm] understood that you just march to that podium, and you claim that podium as yours, you don’t ask anybody permission.”

NOW has more than fifty years history of marching to podiums, speaking truth to power, not asking permission—and winning important victories. In 2018, voters agreed with this agenda and elected the most diverse Congress in history. Now, we can elect a woman vice president because women are mobilizing the largest feminist voting force in our history.

Barack Obama chose Joe Biden to be his most trusted advisor, and Joe Biden is applying the same standard to his own choice. His choice of Kamala Harris to be vice president is evidence he intends to be a feminist champion in the White House.

The 2020 elections are an historic opportunity for women to elect a new president, to take the gavel from Mitch McConnell, and give it to someone who supports women. We look forward to Vice President Kamala Harris presiding over a feminist Senate Majority, and a Biden/Harris Administration that defends and strengthens women’s rights, civil rights and justice for every community that is being harmed by the Trump administration today.

Testimony on “School-to-Prison Pipeline”
Delivered August 6, 2020, to Joint Hearing of Committee on Public Safety and Courts of Justice Committee 

The Virginia Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) – the nation’s largest feminist advocacy organization – welcomes this opportunity to submit comments on the impact on women and girls of racial inequities in the criminal justice system. We represent more than 5,000 members and supporters throughout the Commonwealth, dedicated to advancing equal rights and gender equity. We commend the House leadership for holding these hearings and emphasize the pressing need to address the impact of racism in our justice system on women and girls of color. The impact of the school-to-prison pipeline and the abuse-to-prison pipeline on girls and young women is one of the most critical priorities.

A 2008 U.S. Department of Justice study showed that the increased arrest and incarceration of girls over the past 20 years has not been the result of increased criminal activity or violence. Instead, more girls are being arrested and incarcerated because of the aggressive enforcement of non-serious offenses, many of which stem from abuse and trauma.

The Virginia Legal Aid Justice Center reported in 2015 that “Resource starvation, unaddressed academic failure, suspension and expulsion, and school policing are pushing students out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.” The impact on Black students was much greater than on White students; however, there was no data on gender disparities.

The National YWCA, which is dedicated to serving women and girls, reported in a briefing paper that "From police responses to domestic violence and threats in their homes and neighborhoods, to the policing of pregnancy and motherhood, to their experiences of 'driving while female,' girls and women of color experience criminalization and racial profiling by law enforcement in ways that are overlooked by the current policy narrative."  [Source: We Deserve Safety - Ending the Criminalization of Women & Girls of Color, 2017]

Also in 2015, a major report by Georgetown University and others stated that “the girls’ sexual abuse to prison pipeline” cuts across every divide of race, class, and ethnicity and especially criminalizes girls of color. "The facts are staggering: one in four American girls will experience some form of sexual violence by the age of 18. ..And in a perverse twist of justice, many girls who experience sexual abuse are routed into the juvenile justice system because of their victimization. Indeed, sexual abuse is one of the primary predictors of girls’ entry into the juvenile justice system."

The organization Justice Forward Virginia, writing about school resource officers and the funneling of children from the school system to the criminal legal system (the “school-to-prison pipeline”), says:

"The data suggests …that the presence of police in schools leads to the overcriminalization of youthful behavior. ..The most striking data related to Black girls, who made up 17% of the school population, but made up 43% of the students arrested or referred to law enforcement for prosecution."

We need a comprehensive legal approach to decriminalizing behaviors in school that will dismantle the “school-to-prison pipeline” and the “abuse-to-prison pipeline” that applies to girls and young women.  Virginia NOW asks the General Assembly to make this a priority.

Thank you

Thursday, August 13th is Black Women’s Equal Pay DayThat means Black women had to work all of 2019 and until this day in 2020 to catch up to what white, non-Hispanic men earned in 2019 alone. Black women earn 62 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men. Or we can look at it another way: it takes 1 year plus an additional 226 days for Black women to get equal pay.
 
As allies for racial justice, our immediate challenge is to spread awareness of this injustice. Join NOW and our allies in the campaign to raise awareness of the pay gap and its negative effect on Black women and families. We invite you to the Facebook live discussion at 10 am Thursday on race and economic theft with national experts and advocates. 
 
You may also want to take part in a twitter storm Thursday, from 2 to 3 pm. See the toolkit with tweets and other media.
 
The statistics show the deep reach of institutional racism as it affects the ability to earn a living. On average, Black women are paid 38% less than white men. Lower earnings for Black women means less money for their families, especially since more than 80% of Black mothers are the main breadwinners for their households. When they’re paid less, it impacts their ability to buy groceries, pay for childcare, afford rent and tuition … all the costs that go into supporting a family.
 
Black women are subject to biases for being women and biases for being people of color. We see this double discrimination in the pay gap. Not only are Black women on average paid 38% less than white men, they are paid 21% less than white women.
 
Too many people don’t know that Black women are paid less. More than 30 percent of Americans are not aware that, on average, Black women are paid less than white men. And 50% of Americans—as well as 45% of hiring managers—think Black women and white women are paid equally.
 
People are overly optimistic about the state of Black women. About half of white men think obstacles to advancement for Black women are gone, but only 14% of Black women agree. 
 
Moreover, nearly 70% of people who are not Black think that racism, sexism or both are uncommon in their company—yet 64% of Black women say they’ve experienced discrimination at work. 
 
Any way you look at it, there’s a pay gap for Black women. Even when you control for factors like education, experience, location, and occupation, the pay gap still exists. And the gap actually widens for Black women with more education.
 
The pay gap that Black women face amounts to almost $870,000 lost over the course of a typical career. Each woman’s extra annual earnings would pay for: 
• Three years worth of groceries 
• Twenty-two months worth of rent 
• Two and a half years of child care
• Or the full cost of tuition and fees for a two-year community college.
 
As allies for racial justice, our immediate challenge is to spread awareness of this injustice.
Thanks to everyone who helps in raising awareness.