NOW, the National Organization for Women, fights for women’s rights on a local and national level. As President of NOW, Christian is able to give a voice to the voiceless and ensure that the interests of women around the country are represented in legislation. NOW’s multi-issue strategy is a holistic approach to tackling women’s rights. Learn more about NOW’s impactful work here!
Can you tell me about some of the national and local policies you’ve helped advocate for?
We are a membership-based organization that has been around since 1966. Our work centers around legislative advocacy and education about women’s equality. We work on both a local and federal level. Our six core issues are reproductive rights, constitutional equality, racial justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, economic justice, and ending violence against women. We look at every core issue through an intersectional perspective. Most women and girls who experience any form of injustice are likely experiencing multiple forms of injustice, and intersectionality is looking at the relationship between those issues. We have local, state chapters who do grassroots advocacy to get information out about these issues. I personally work in the national office to make sure we are present in DC politics and letting our voice be heard.
How has your background as a mental health professional influenced the way you approach tackling major social justice issues at NOW?
My experience working in mental health allowed me to understand the whole person. You can’t neglect one part of a person’s experience and expect to understand who they are. I saw the disconnect between the lived experience of people and what is actually happening in policy. Many people are living in chronic stress because their needs aren’t being met by legislation. There’s a common phrase in social work to “meet clients where they are”. When we neglect to meet constituents where they are, a disconnect develops between people and policies. In working on legislation with NOW, I try to truly understand what people need and not just assume. My background has helped me understand how we should drive policy and how to communicate about it.
What is NOW doing to make reproductive healthcare available to all women?
We are making sure that people are looking at this issue from all levels and understanding that reproductive rights affect everyone. We have to be intentional in our states doing advocacy work and looking at who we are voting for. We need to elect pro-choice candidates and make sure pro-women legislation is passed. Part of our program is training individuals who want to be campaign operatives to ensure that they have women’s interests in mind. We need to provide candidates with the skills they need to run and win a race. We are working to pass state legislation, creating action at the federal level, holding press conferences to get information out there, and working with other partners to spread our reach. There are certain groups, like black, brown, disabled, and indigenous people, who carry the heaviest burden when it comes to reproductive rights. We speak out about their experiences so that their injustices can be heard by everyone.
NOW’s work spans so many issues, from racial justice to constitutional equality and everything in between. Are there any other topics you hope to expand into?
All of the issues that we focus on are about what is affecting women. Our membership is thinking about expanding into climate justice. Climate justice is a feminist issue, it’s a racial issue, and it’s an economic issue. Women and children are most affected by climate change. Women make less than men and will have fewer housing options available to them as the climate degrades. We have to look at things holistically. As of now, we are sticking to our six core issues and thinking about the other topics that relate to them. I’m using my experience as a black woman to better understand what other black women need from a racial justice and women’s rights lens and ultimately determine what other areas we need to tackle.