2012 National NOW Conference: Energize! Organize!
Baltimore, Md., was home to this year's National NOW Conference. Hundreds of women's rights activists and supporters from every corner of the nation converged during the weekend of June 29-July 1 to organize and fight for issues critical to the well-being of women and their families. The conference focused on strategizing for the 2012 elections while addressing key issues that have been under attack, such as contraception coverage and the Violence Against Women Act
The conference opened with a welcome from local elected officials: Baltimore's Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, State Senator Roger Manno, and State Delegates Susan Lee, Heather Mizeur and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam. They were followed by keynote speaker Eve Ensler, the Tony award-winning playwright of The Vagina Monologues and a passionate activist for women. Ensler got the entire crowd dancing joyfully as a prelude to her One Billion Rising action next February.
That was just the beginning of an impressive lineup of featured speakers. The dynamic speakers in each plenary session, from MSNBC's Krystal Ball to National Action Network's Tamika Mallory, had the crowd cheering time and time again.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) accepted NOW's first-ever Woman of Impact Award for her political leadership and outstanding support of women's rights on Capitol Hill. NOW also presented a Woman of Action award to the "godmother of Title IX," Dr. Bemice Sandler, who played a major role in helping pass the landmark law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.
NOW recognized Georgetown Law graduate Sandra Fluke, who was prevented from testifying at a congressional briefing on birth control and subsequently slurred by radio bully Rush Limbaugh. A devoted advocate for gender equality, Fluke accepted NOW's Woman of Courage Award.
The conference also included two plenaries dedicated to political organizing, a track of workshops aimed at modernizing NOW's structure for the 21st Century, and a Mothers and Caregivers Summit co-organized by the NOW Foundation and the Institute for Women's Policy Research.
Dr. Vivian Pinn received NOW Foundation's Victoria J. Mastrobuono Award for her contributions to women's health and the field of women in science and medicine while at the National Institutes of Health. …