Greetings Ohio NOW,

Uncivilized, Unacceptable.

Today as I take the helm of the National Organization for Women, I’m conflicted.

First, I’m so thrilled to for this opportunity to lead NOW. And I’m excited to partner with Gilda Yazzie, our new vice president.

However, in so many ways these are awful times:
Poverty for women in this country is a big issue, 70% of poor pregnant women rely on government assistance.
Over half of the killings of American women are related to intimate partner violence, with the vast majority of the victims dying at the hands of a current or former romantic partner,
Research shows an estimated quarter-million children, some at least as young as 10, were married in the United States between 2000 and 2010. All fifty states allow girls under 18 years old to be force into marriage contracts.
More than 8 in 10 women in jail have survived sexual violence; nearly as many have experienced domestic abuse. About one-third of women in jail are living with severe mental illnesses, more than twice the rate of men in jail.”
Access to birth control is under attack: “There’s not one woman who can’t afford birth control on her own” according to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price.
And now Republican women of the Senate are being threatened with physical violence by the male Senators.
Women will no long be ‘watching’. We will be calling out and demanding a change in our culture. We will shift away from violent, ugly male-driven language and actions. We will bear witness to and stand by girls and women who call out violent verbal threats and physical assaults.

This administration and Congress have initiated an overt campaign to intimidate and demand submission from American women. The rug is being pulled out from under us. Every advance we have made is being dismantled. What will we tell our daughters?

The good news? The tremendous energy unleashed by the resistance to Trump is swelling the ranks of our membership. We’re going to take advantage of that and build on it. We will build NOW into the strongest, largest organization it has ever been. We will make the anti-woman agenda of the GOP the major issue of the 2018 elections. We’ve already started identifying feminists ready to run.

Gilda and I will stand with YOU. We will chart NOW’s course to confront and deal with the serious challenges women and our children face in the Trump era.

NOW more than ever, NOW’s unapologetic feminist voice and grass-roots strength are needed. With you by our side we will not fail. We will fight. And together, we will win.

Together we are #NOWStrong!

In solidarity,

Toni Van Pelt