WELCOME to the next edition of NOW New Jersey’s monthly FEMINIST FRIDAY Newsletter! Looking ahead, May is both Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and Sex Ed for All Month.

This year, during AAPI heritage month, recognizing and lifting AAPI voices is more crucial than ever. The recent wave of hate crimes against Asian Americans is just the latest in a history of exclusion; the discrimination and xenophobia entrenched in our nation go beyond the rise incidents during the pandemic. April saw a wave of rallies organized by Asian American activists throughout New Jersey.

Members of the community spoke of their own experience with casual racism at work, in school and in their neighborhoods. NOW New Jersey President, Anjali Mehrotra addressed the gathered crowd at one such event in Berkeley Heights. As a society, we need to support our AAPI neighbors and here are some ideas on how you can do just that.

May is also SEX ED for ALL month. Here in New Jersey, NOW worked with other members of the Sex-Ed subcommittee of the Thrive-NJ coalition last year to ensure that the updated curriculum guidelines released by the Department of Education continued to advocate for healthy youth and relationships. However since the curriculum still stresses abstinence and comprehensive sex-education is currently not mandated in New Jersey, we are now working on drafting legislation similar to ones passed in other states. This legislation will ensure that New Jersey’s sexual education standards adhere to National Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education.

And finally May 28 is celebrated as global Menstrual Hygiene Day! Watch our social media for more info and some exciting news from our Equality, Period. NJ coalition.

END THE TITLE X GAG RULE — This month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released proposed regulations to end the Title X gag rule imposed by the Trump administration. Since 2019, the gag rule has undermined the Title X program and forced abortion providers to choose between funding or continuing to provide services in a holistic manner. As many of these providers chose to forgo the funding, it denied people across the country access to affordable reproductive health care, such as birth control and life-saving cancer screenings. Due to centuries of systemic racism and injustice, the rule has mostly harmed people of color and people with low incomes, all at a time when access to health care has never been more important.

The proposed regulations, when finalized, will be a victory for patients across the country who have been denied access to sexual and reproductive health care. The comment period for the newly released Notice for Public Rulemaking to repeal the gag rule is now open until May 17. Take a few minutes to submit a comment, underlining the harm the gag rule has wrought and emphasizing why it must end as swiftly as possible at the link below.

Take Action NOW


$$$ — Budget season is in full swing since Governor Murphy announced his budget proposal for 2022 in February. State budget hearings have begun and with the news this week that Biden has approved New Jersey’s Winter Storm Disaster Declaration, New Jersey’s finances seem to be on the uptick for the first time in recent history. For a more in-depth look at the budget proposal, check out New Jersey Policy Perspective’s explainer here and NJ Spotlight’s breakdown here.

SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH — On April 19, Governor Murphy signed a package of seven bills into law that strengthen how law enforcement agencies handle sexual assault cases. These bills – resulting from NOW New Jersey Treasurer Katie Brennan’s advocacy and courage in sharing her own experience – direct law enforcement agencies to allocate additional resources to sexual assault cases, increase training for prosecutors on how to manage these cases, and change reporting structures to ensure that survivors are properly notified about their cases. As part of this package of bills, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal will also be tasked with publishing an annual report detailing the scope of sexual assault incidents statewide. #SAAM2021

RIGHTS FREEDOM ACTION Week! — During the week of May 17, the Thrive NJ coalition will be conducting a lobby week, for constituents to meet virtually with legislators to urge passage of the Reproductive Freedom Act. Approximately one week before, the coalition will host a training for all who sign up. If you are interested in contacting legislators to invite their participation or meeting with your lawmakers to lobby for the RFA, please contact the RFA task force chair, Merrill Mezzacappa.


ERA NOW — Somerset County Federation of Democratic Women is holding a discussion on why NOW is the perfect time to seal the deal on the ERA passage with Anjali Mehrotra, President of NOW New Jersey, on Wednesday, May 5 at 7:30 PM. This event mentioned in last month’s newsletter was postponed to May. Check our Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram for Zoom registration info.

A FEMINIST GREEN NEW DEAL — Join the Breach Collective and Power Shift Network for a discussion on A Feminist Green New Deal. The event is the twelfth installment in their ongoing “Organizing the Green New Deal” course. The conversation will include Mara Dolan from the Feminist Green New Deal Coalition as well as Maeve Cohen and Sherilyn MacGregor, authors of Wen and The Women’s Budget Group’s “UK Feminist Green New Deal” policy paper, in conversation with NOW NJ PAC Secretary Shree Mehrotra. Join the class on Wednesday, May 5 at 3PM. To view past installments, click here.

Time to Run NOW — National NOW is launching a training program for NOW members who want to get active in electoral politics. Run by experienced national level operatives, the program will bring in subject matter experts to share their knowledge on all areas of campaigning, such as field, communications and fundraising to build a bench of feminist leaders seeking elected office or working on political campaigns. The program will be exclusive to NOW members and will officially launch on Wednesday, June 2. Keep your eyes out for more details as they come out.

VOTE Early — The primary for all New Jersey races is on June 8 and vote-by-mail ballots are making their way towards registered voters’ homes. Remember to fill out your ballot and make your voice heard!


NOW WHAT? — In its nearly 55-year history, NOW members have celebrated victories together and supported each other during its most significant setbacks. Change has never been easy. As we face the monumental task of pushing forward our intersectional feminist agenda, we also need to take a moment to reflect on our challenges and appreciate the community we have built together. On April 15, NOW activists and leaders, Bear Atwood (National NOW VP), Heather Booth (Progressive Campaign Strategist), Anjali Mehrotra (NOW-NJ President), and Alexia Emuze (Austin NOW VP), came together in conversation to discuss Building Generations of Intersectional Feminists. Watch the recording here.

DENIM DAY — This past Wednesday was #DenimDay in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit www.nsvrc.org/saam.

CALL FOR WORKSHOPS — Have a great idea for a workshop to lead intersectional feminism? Visit https://now.org/2021-workshop-proposals/ to learn how you can host a workshop at the 2021 National NOW Conference. There are three exciting weekends of feminist learning, networking, and activism planned for members across the country, and you can be a part of it. Sign up and register now! The deadline has been extended until May 7.


It’s Time to #PassTheRFA — This month progressive activist groups released a statement urging the New Jersey legislature to pass the Reproductive Freedom Act after it has been stalled for six months since its introduction. The groups, which included both NOW-NJ and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund among many others, said, “State legislative leaders must act now, not if — or more likely when — abortion access becomes even further eroded. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels; now is the time to pass the Reproductive Freedom Act.” The New Jersey Globe noted, “The delays aren’t an indication that the bill is dead. It’s still got its supporters within the legislature, including Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who last month told [us] she hopes to see the bill passed by the end of the year.”


‘Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President’: Women Make History At Biden’s Joint Address

The military should finally take sexual assault cases out of commanding officers’ control — The Washington Post Editorial Board

Zoom Burnout Is Real, And It’s Worse for Women — New York Times

Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome — Harvard Business Review

Op-Ed: Maternal health disparities, the other health crisis — NJ Spotlight


The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper — Heather McGhee

In her brilliant new book Heather McGhee “draws on a wealth of economic data to make the case that discriminatory laws and practices that target African Americans also negatively impact society at large.” Listen to the full NPR interview here.

She uses a simple metaphor to demonstrate how racist ideology perpetuates a self-defeating form of exclusion — the drained swimming pool. Grand public pools were common features of cities and suburbs in the early decades of the 20th century, enjoyed and supported by white American families until they were mandated to integrate them. McGhee visited the site of one such pool in Montgomery, Ala., drained and cemented over in 1959 so that no one, white or Black, could ever enjoy it again.


Danni Newbury, Action Vice President

What made you join NOW? I am a woman married to a woman, and my wife and I have two daughters – addressing women’s issues is personal. My interest in NOW-NJ came with the rise of current NOW-NJ President Anjali Mehrotra and her unapologetic commitment to addressing issues that affect all women. All my adult life I have voted like my rights depend on it, because as a member of the LGBTQ community they actually do. As LGBTQ advocates and activists, our actions must be strategic. As the late RGB said, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

What feminist issue would you like to see addressed that is not getting enough attention? All of them. Let’s be honest, it’s 2021 and we’re finally seeing cracks in the glass ceiling of women’s rights and an intentional dismantling of the heteronormative patriarchy created by white men that has for too long kept women from living as their true selves and to their full potential.

In the words of Sarah Moore Grimké, a 19th century abolitionist and women’s rights activist – “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” We have a lot of work to do.

What’s your new quarantine hobby? I am an extreme extrovert. And it is in my nature to help people. So between taking on the challenge of being a homeschool educator for my seven year old, entertaining my four year old and simultaneously working from home, I started making wellness calls to local seniors (even running a few errands on their behalf), working at food drives, and now I spend my days assisting at Union County’s COVID19 vaccine clinic – while serving the Rahway community as 2021 City Council President and working closely with my colleagues and Mayor Giacobbe to be proactive and progressive in our efforts to combat the challenges of COVID. What was that about quarantine hobbies?

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Our purpose is to act through intersectional, anti-racist grassroots activism to promote
feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect
the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.

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