Dear DC NOW Members,

We wanted to take this opportunity to announce to our members that the entire DC NOW Board will be resigning from the National Organization for Women. You can read our full resignation letter to the Executive Board below. 

As we reflect on our previous accomplishments, our Board is proud of what we have achieved over the years. We are saddened to know our work must end but we are unwilling to be associated with an organization that will not own up to its failings and take accountability for the hurt it has caused its own members.

We have enjoyed working with you all and thank you for your time and commitment to improving the lives of women and girls in Washington, DC. 


What does this mean for you?

 


We are not dissolving the chapter. If members wish to take on the responsibility of running DC NOW, please email washingtondcnow@gmail.com and we will make sure to get you the resources you need to continue the Chapter. 

There are also chapters in Maryland and Virginia. Find more information on now.org here. 

What will happen to the book club?


We would like to continue the book club although we will need to change the name. If you are interested in remaining in the book club, please email washingtondcnow@gmail.com. The June and July scheduled meetings will still take place and will be on Google Meet. 

 

Resignation Letter to Board

June 22, 2020

We, the entire DC NOW Chapter Board, officially resign from the National Organization for Women. 

We are disappointed and angry. Toni Van Pelt and the Executive Board have demonstrated a lack of leadership and accountability regarding a number of accusations of racist behavior. The President has sent daily emails denying responsibility, and has yet to fire the Communications Director who posted accusatory and racist photos. 

We believe the women who have come forward. We support them. We stand with them. 
We too experienced the patronizing, racist, transphobic, and patriarchal behavior outlined in The Daily Beast article. During the 2017 election, multiple members received both racially insensitive and ageist remarks about younger women, and we lost several active members as a result. 

Last year, DC NOW carefully considered our stance on the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act which would have decriminalized sex work in the District. We chose to support decriminalizing sex work and we stand by this decision. Before we were able to announce and submit our testimony, National NOW announced a stance on this local issue, without consulting us, that was contrary to our beliefs. Their statement and their testimony at the DC Council hearing was insulting and belittling to sex workers and put us at odds with our community allies. National NOW’s position is ironic considering the organization’s long standing supposed commitment to women’s bodily autonomy. It was particularly frustrating that National NOW testified before the City Council and promoted a national response, as the citizens of the District fight for statehood and struggle constantly with overreach and infringement on our ability to self-govern. They should not have taken a stance on this local issue and their behavior was not acceptable. 

We have known for years that NOW has a problematic history, but we have carried on with our work, hoping the generational divide would close and the organization would become more welcoming to young feminists and people of color. Instead, the Board and Executive Committee have fought to preserve the status quo. We worry what these allegiances and cliques will do for NOW’s legacy and wonder who will lead NOW in the future. 

As we reflect on our previous accomplishments, our Board is proud of what we have achieved over the years. We are saddened to know our work must end but we are unwilling to be associated with an organization that will not own up to its failings and take accountability for the hurt it has caused its own members.

DC NOW proudly organized and lobbied for the Sexual Assault Victim Rights Act which passed in 2014. This bill fought to make sure DC Metropolitan Police Department was testing rape kits and to provide survivors an advocate. That bill was amended in 2019 and we continued to work with the coalition of service providers who are now leading the fight to reform and improve this bill.  

In 2013, we created a Membership Director position and got to work on recruiting young women and women of color into the organization. We increased our visibility in the community and advocated for more activism and social activities to keep our members engaged, since policy can be slow moving. We also began a relationship with a direct service provider, Calvary Women's Services, an organization that supports women experiencing homelessness with housing, healthcare and the educational support they need to take positive steps toward independence. 

We then joined the Paid Family Leave Coalition to fight for the Universal Paid Leave Act which passed in 2016. Through the PFLA coalition led by Jews United for Justice, we were able to meet many community partners who remain allies and friends to this day. DC NOW joined the steering committee to lead the fight for tipped workers on the One Fair Wage campaign in 2017. Our president led the campaign once it was brought to the ballot, and we worked with national and DC-based organizations through the Restaurant Opportunities Center to make sure that women of color tipped workers were able to earn a livable wage. 

We have supported, testified, and called for the full implementation of the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act which seeks to use a public health approach to prevent violence and reduce incarceration. We have raised money for nonprofits and the DC Abortion Fund, canvassed for and endorsed candidates for City Council, participated in and contributed to the District’s budget, and regularly submitted testimony on bills that would affect women and girls in the District.

As feminists, it is our responsibility to take action, hold others accountable, and fight for justice. Instead, we see that the movement and our organization are being put on the back burner for one individual’s pride. But the problem does not rest solely on the President’s shoulders. The Board has had problems with recruitment for years and repeatedly fails to recruit more women of color to fill the district seats. If NOW does not make an investment now in recruitment, confront and remove prejudiced members from positions of power, and open its doors and minds, it will cease to exist.

Sincerely,
DC NOW Board
 

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Email: washingtondcnow@gmail.com

Phone: 515-612-7934‬

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