Action Needed: CNOW Demands Racial Justice​

Racial justice is one of CNOW’s core issues. Grounded in our belief that human rights are indivisible, CNOW is committed to identifying and disabling barriers to equality and justice that are imposed by racism. We aim to combat systemic racism through intersectional feminism. We know racial justice is important to all members of our community, but we also must recognize that we do not all experience that deep-rooted fear that we or our loved ones could be harassed or killed simply while jogging, while in their homes, while bird watching in a public park or while interacting with law enforcement over a non-violent incident. Accordingly, we cannot look away. We must continually repeat the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Christian Cooper and George Floyd.

Your feelings of rage, fear, devastation, despair, and anxiety are justified. Let’s channel our anger into collective action.

It is not enough to stand next to each other advocating for justice when tragedy based in racism goes viral and ripples through our communities. Relentless action must be taken through voting, legislation, policy, funding, education, criminal justice reform, economic equality, and access to justice. CNOW is active in these fights and will join in yours. There is power in numbers. For the sake of our humanity, this is our call to action for critical change.

Chicago NOW Statement on COVID-19’s Impact on Women and Girls

Domestic Violence
Reproductive Rights
Equal Pay
Racial Justice
What can you do?

Dear Chicago NOW Community,

In the last month, COVID-19 has transformed our world as we know it. Here in Chicago, we are lucky to have proactive leaders who are working around the clock to mitigate the havoc the pandemic is wreaking on our society. To those of you who are essential workers on the front line of this battle—our healthcare workers, grocery store employees, delivery people and everyone else putting their lives on the line—we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Below are just a few examples of how COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting women in the most vulnerable parts of our community—and a few ways you can take action (even while sheltering in place) to help.

Domestic Violence
Shelter-in-place orders can make women in abusive relationships feel trapped. As Vickie Smith, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence explains, “There’s more time for people to be together, creating the opportunity for volatile tempers to fly. But there are also fewer opportunities for victims to reach out for help.” Illinois’s domestic violence shelters are adapting to the pandemic by offering violence prevention services in different forms to comply with required social distancing. Rather than housing those fleeing from abusers in shelters, service providers are housing them in hotels and motels; and the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence was able to obtain an order of protection for a client via a telephonic hearing.

Additionally, the Illinois Department of Human Services just announced it will launch a $1.2 million plan to increase the capacity of its statewide network of services for survivors during the pandemic, expanding the role of the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline by creating a one-stop access point for counseling and shelter needs. Survivors can call 1-877-TO END DV (1-877-863-6338 voice or 1-877-863-6339 TTY) and be connected to shelter through existing domestic violence prevention and intervention shelter services or to emergency shelter through available hotels and motels.

Reproductive Rights
A growing number of states are taking advantage of the pandemic by seeking to ban abortion, classifying it as an unnecessary medical procedure. A federal appeals court just ruled that Texas can temporarily prohibit abortions after its governor signed an executive order halting all procedures that were not “immediately medically necessary” to save a life. Lawmakers in Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio and Oklahoma are also claiming that abortion is not medically necessary and that banning it will help conserve medical resources needed to fight COVID-19.

Abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights are taking every legal option they have to keep clinics open to provide abortion services during this time. Another method of fighting back against anti-choice lawmakers who are trying to restrict abortion access during the pandemic: advocate for greater access to the abortion pill.

Equal Pay
The pandemic has further exposed the brutal economic reality of low-paid women workers who are on the front line of the crisis. Home health aides, grocery store workers, and childcare workers are predominately women at high risk of viral exposure—but so many lack the basic protections of a decent wage, paid sick and family leave, and employer-sponsored healthcare. These women are in fear of losing their jobs due to the economic impact of the pandemic while also living with the lost earnings of the gender wage gap. If these lost wages were available to women now, they could help put food on the table, pay for medication and other healthcare expenses, and cover rent to avoid eviction.

Women of color are a large percentage of the workers filling these jobs and face the largest wage gap losses of all because they experience both a gender and racial wage gap. As stated by the National Women’s Law Center, “[t]he unfolding impacts of COVID-19 reveal just how many communities of women, and the families that depend on their earnings, are bearing the brunt of the longstanding gaps and underinvestment in our workplace laws, economic and social infrastructure, and policy choices that failed to center the needs of women, people of color, and families with low and moderate incomes.”

Racial Justice
Recently released data from the Illinois Department of Health shows a “pandemic within the pandemic”: African Americans are significantly overrepresented in infection rates in Illinois, making up 14.6% of the state population but 28% of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Whites comprise 76.9% of the state population but only 39% of cases; and Latinos comprise 17.4% of the state population and 7% of cases.

Why the disproportionate impact? Lower-wage essential workers are more often women of color who are forced to put their lives on the line during this crisis to keep their families afloat. Furthermore, women of color in underserved areas of the city are already more likely to be battling chronic and undertreated health conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, and have limited access to healthier and affordable food options in their neighborhoods. To battle these concerns, Chicago could look to cities like Milwaukee, who declared racism a public health issue last summer, in order to address the impact that decades of race-based inequality has had on underserved communities.

Reporting racial breakdown of COVID-19 victims is only the first step in combating the disproportionate impact on Chicagoans of color. This week, Mayor Lightfoot declared a “public health red alarm,” announcing immediate actions her administration is taking to address the high levels of COVID-19 among African Americans—including requiring healthcare providers to collect demographic information for each COVID-19 patient treated, increasing bus service to the south and west sides to enable social distancing, and increasing surveillance of grocery and convenience stores on the south and west sides to enforce social distancing requirements.

So what can you do?
First things first: STAY HOME!

If you want to take concrete action:

Finally, spread the word! Share this information with your friends and family, keep an eye out for further donation and volunteer opportunities from us and other organizations, and write or call your alderman and other local and state government officials—and help us make our city a better place for all women and girls.

We miss you, members. Look for further updates from us soon.

In solidarity,
Chicago NOW

2020 CNOW PAC Endorsements are in!

Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court (multiple endorsements)
Hon. Michael Cabonargi, Hon. Iris Martinez, Jacob Meister
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (voters choose three)
Hon. Cam Davis, Hon. Kim DuBuclet, Eira Corral Sepúlveda
Illinois Supreme Court, Freeman Vacancy (dual endorsement)
Daniel Epstein, Hon. Margaret Stanton McBride
1st Appellate, Neville, Jr. Vacancy— Hon. Carolyn Gallagher
Circuit Court Judge, Coghlan Vacancy— Elizabeth Ryan
Circuit Court Judge, Larsen Vacancy—Suzanne Therese McEneely
Circuit Court Judge, Mason Vacancy—Chris Stacey
Circuit Court Judge, O’Brien Vacancy— Hon. Lloyd James Brooks
Circuit Court Judge, O’Brien Vacancy— Heather Kent
Circuit Court Judge, Roti Vacancy— James Patrick Crawley
Cook Circuit Judge, Sheehan, C. Vacancy— Deidre Baumann
Circuit Court Judge, Sheehan K. Vacancy— Jill Rose Quinn
6th Judicial Subcircuit, Nega Vacancy— Jamie Guerra Dickler
6th Judicial Subcircuit, Nega Vacancy— Anne Shaw
6th Judicial Subcircuit, Pantle Vacancy— Eileen Marie O’Connor
8th Judicial Subcircuit, Fleming Vacancy— Bradley Trowbridge
9th Judicial Subcircuit, Axelrood Vacancy— Pamela Stratigakis
9th Judicial Subcircuit, Luckman Vacancy—Hon. Michael A. Strom
9th Judicial Subcircuit, Luckman Vacancy—Julie B. Aimen
10th Judicial Subcircuit, McGing Vacancy— Jon Stromsta
10th Judicial Subcircuit, O’Brien Vacancy— Mary C. Marubio

Chicago National Organization for Women Political Action Committee is the
political arm of Chicago NOW, a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization.
Chicago NOW PAC endorses candidates at the local level. For information on
state or federal candidate endorsements, please visit
Endorsed candidates are selected based on, among other factors, answers to
the Chicago NOW PAC questionnaire, their demonstrated shared feminist
values, and a majority vote by Chicago NOW PAC members. In some cases,
dual or multiple endorsements have been made.

For questions, please contact

Paid for by Chicago NOW PAC

Join the CNOW Board for 2020

Chicago NOW is accepting board applications! If you’re a motivated feminist that would like to help out with Chicago NOW’s advocacy work and initiatives, now’s your chance! Please complete this submission form by Friday, November 15. Afterwards, we will be in touch about scheduling a brief interview between yourself and a current board member.

A bit more info on what being a board member entails:

What do Board Members do?

  • Serve as an ambassador for the organization
  • Plan and promote organizational activities
  • Attend Board meetings and organizational events
  • Recruit members and Board Members
  • Support fundraising and organizational operations

Benefits of Serving on the Board

  • Advance opportunities and rights of women in Chicago & beyond
  • Network with progressive professionals
  • Actively engage in the dialogue on feminism and equality
  • Build leadership experience

Board meetings are typically scheduled once a month, and all board members are expected to be present during these meetings. Board Members are required to participate in our annual events and issue-based actions throughout the year.

Board Members are also required to be registered members of Chicago NOW, which is an annual fee of $40 a year. In addition, there is a $500 fundraising requirement. We are an all volunteer organization that operates as a result of donations. This amount can be fulfilled through reaching out to your network and inviting people to attend our events (as their donations will count toward your total), in kind donations (supplies, food, etc.), personal donations, or some combination of all of the above.

We are looking forward to a great new year with new faces and new unique perspectives! We hope you will join us.

Thank you for attending Women Who Dared!

We couldn’t have done it without you.
Thank you for being part of Chicago NOW’s Women Who Dared 2019! We are thrilled that so many of you were able to join us as we honored and thanked Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sendy Soto for their important contributions to the local feminist community.

Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sendy Soto pose with CNOW Board Members at our Women Who Dared event on October 2.

Sendy Soto and Rep. Kelly Cassidy pose with CNOW Board Members at our Women Who Dared event on October 2.

Sendy Soto and Rep. Kelly Cassidy pose with CNOW Board Members.

Your support is crucial to our success.
Chicago NOW is an all-volunteer chapter dedicated to making our city a better place for women and girls. Our work is financed solely by contributions from members, donors and sponsors. Your support of events like Women Who Dared enables us to continue our important activist work.

Chicago NOW is dedicated to making our city a better place for women and girls by:

  • Advocating for economic equity that affects all women and particularly women of color
  • Working to end violence against women in all its forms
  • Advancing the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution
  • Defending and supporting LGBTQ rights
  • Amplifying women’s voices and leading the way for systemic change in racial justice
  • Fighting for reproductive justice
Want to get more involved with Chicago NOW?
Follow us on social media! And, stay tuned for info on our open board meeting this December, when we’ll elect our 2020 board and toast our accomplishments. Join us for cocktails and dinner, get to know our board members, and find out how you can continue to supercharge the feminist fight.

Thank you again for helping us fight for equality and justice for all women and girls!