The University of Connecticut (UConn) Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) works to bring awareness to women’s issues including reproductive rights, violence against women and economic justice.
UConn NOW is run by a four-person board including President Lexi Grabon, a seventh-semester nursing major, Vice President Emmalyn Lecky, a fifth-semester biological sciences and psychological sciences double major, Secretary Maria Lattanzi, a fifth-semester cognitive sciences major and Treasurer Daniela Paredes, a third-semester political science and philosophy double major.
NOW’s board responded to The Daily Campus’ questions via email.
NOW has been at UConn since 2010 and have mainly been a small organization. This year, they have been working to grow and create a bigger presence on campus, according to the board.
“If you are looking for an organization where your voice is truly heard, where opinions, discussions, and debates are always welcome, and where ideas turn into real action on campus, then come join us at our meetings,” according to NOW’s uconntact page.
While, NOW’s focus is on women, the organization knows that activism can’t be successful only with women’s efforts. Instead, they see equality and activism as something that benefits not just women, but also gender-expansive individuals and men.
“47 years after the organization’s founding, we have certainly come a long way, but we still require more progress,” NOW’s UConntact page reads. “From unequal pay to continued gender violence, the need for equality is as strong as ever, and not just among women, but for individuals of all genders, races, ethnicities and orientations.
The NOW board also views its meetings as a safe space for students to discuss and educate themselves about women’s issues in addition to planning events which impact the larger UConn community.
Because of its size, NOW collaborates with the Women’s Center, Revolution Against Rape, the Violence Against Women Protection Program (VAWPP) and Youth for Socialist Action.
This fall semester, NOW’s primary campaign was the No Shame Campaign. Through the No Shame Campaign, NOW provides free feminine products including pads and tampons to UConn students.
The campaign “spreads the message that menstruation is natural and should not be a cause for embarrassment,” the board said. The No Shame Campaign also raises awareness about how developing countries in the economic south lack access to menstrual products, which are a basic necessity.
In addition to the No Shame Campaign, NOW also co-sponsored All Out on Tuesday, a protest which took place during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. All Out on Tuesday was organized to not only oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, but also to show support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and all women and victims of sexual abuse, the board said.
Current events like the Kavanaugh hearings are particularly important to NOW’s mission. “Current events definitely impact [NOW] and are a big motivator for the things that we do,” Lecky said, citing NOW’s co-sponsoring the Kavanaugh protests.
These events also inspire some NOW members including Lecky, who became more involved after the start of the Me Too movement and the Harvey Weinstein investigations.
“I was frustrated and upset about the magnitude of sexual harassment and assault in our society and was tired of not being able to do anything about it,” Lecky said. “NOW provided a way for me to take an active role in empowering women and minorities and work towards equality.”
NOW also showed their support of other feminist organizations on campus by attending Revolution Against Rape’s March to End Victim Blaming. NOW attended the event to support others who are working on behalf of the same issues and “to protest the stigma around sexual abuse and to support the end of rape culture and victim blaming on colleges campuses,” the board said.
NOW’s co-sponsorships and attendances show activism isn’t a contest. There’s no prize for the organization with the most people nor the biggest events on campus. Yes, those things are impactful and society will only progress if more people get involved, but it’s important to remember that small actions can still make an impact.
Their collaborative approach is also a great example of women supporting women. Often, in today’s media, women are pit against one another as if there’s only room for one woman to succeed. By working with other organizations, NOW works against this stigma.
Next semester, NOW will look to continue its work through a food and clothing drive for the Willimantic Women’s Shelter and attending VAWPP’s Take Back the Night which is an empowerment event to protest gender-based violence.
Additionally, NOW will be having an Equal Pay Bake Sale during which it “will be selling baked goods at different prices based on one’s gender and racial identity to raise awareness about the wage gap,” the board said. This intersectional sweets sale is sure to promote the issue in new and innovative ways.
Small but mighty, NOW’s work continues to positively impact UConn students. Through, the ebb and flow of public consciousness, the organizations efforts will surely grow as they spark the changes they want to see in the world.
NOW’s general meeting is held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Women’s Center Program Room on the fourth floor of the Student Union. They can be reached via email at UConnNow@gmail.com.
Alex Taylor is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.