Monday, June 4, 2012

Thoughts on the NOW-AAUW Webinar

Personal news: I am now an official member of the National Organization for Women (NOW)! NOW is the largest feminist organization in the country, and has been a huge presence in women’s rights advocacy ever since its creation by Betty Friedan in 1966.

While I had a relationship with NOW before I joined, I felt very in place when I recently attended the National Organization for Women (NOW) webinar titled “AAUW Voter Outreach Campaign Strategy Session.” The webinar was co-run by NOW and AAUW (the American Association of University Women), and hosted by NOW President Terry O’Neill and AAUW State Grassroots Advocacy Manager Kimberly Fountain. It was all about how to get women at the polls in the upcoming 2012 election. You can read my full notes here.

I was glad that the webinar made sure to stress that it’s important to get as many women as possible voting this year, regardless of party affiliation. “This is also a 100% nonpartisan campaign, it’s only about the…issues,” Fountain made sure to mention. This AAUW campaign isn’t about pushing a specific candidate; it just wants to ensure that women can get to the polls and vote for the contender whose beliefs they agree with.

Another thing that really made me happy is that this campaign’s focus is on younger women, specifically those aged 18-31, with a special emphasis on college-age women. In my personal experiences, I have noticed that older feminists tend to ignore or underestimate the younger generation, so I’m glad that they’re beginning to realize that we’re extremely capable and can hold a lot of power. After all, the 20-year-old’s vote and the 60-year-old’s vote count just the same.

Since I’m not 18 yet and therefore can’t vote (I’ll be a few months too young for the 2012 election), I made sure to ask if there was anything I could do as a minor to help the cause. “I think [teens and other people who can’t vote] can usually help register voters, double check just to make sure. They can do pep talks too. I’m glad to see young people want to participate!” Fountain responded. As a blogger, I also asked what I can do to help out in that sense. “Bloggers should promote what we’re doing, when we have upcoming registration drives and where they’re located…make sure to promote…the candidate and issue forums [that AAUW will be orchestrating]. Going to them and live blogging them would be great. Also link to congressional voting records as we get those, since they’re fantastic, and link to our tumblr page.” Expect to see a bunch of new links on the Blogs, Sites, and Phone Numbers page, as well as times and dates of upcoming AAUW-related functions!

I’m really looking forward to keeping in touch with this NOW-AAUW campaign. My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor, and she treasured the right to vote so much. No matter what the election was for, she always made it her business to get to the polls, even for minor positions like judges. In many ways, I feel that it’s part of my legacy to make sure that as many women as physically possible can exercise suffrage, a right that feminists fought a long and hard battle for. Happy voting!

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