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

Ending Racism in Chicago NOW: A Critical Race Theory Community Education Workshop

When: Wednesday February 20, 2019 6pm
Location: We Work 20 West Kinzie Chicago, IL 60610

Space is limited please register in advance!

In honor of Black History Month, we here at the Chicago Chapter of the National Organization of Women (CNOW) are actively working to take a stance on racial justice in our city. It is very important that we are able to process difficult conversations as a way to move forward towards equity. We cordially invite you to join us for our second annual racial justice education event as we continue our commitment to embrace intersectionality as it relates to activism in Chicago. This is an evening of stories, diversity education activities, and small group discussions that validate the lived experiences of those most impacted by racism in Chicago. We will be utilizing a critical race theory framework to provide practical tools to combat racism.

For Your Information (FYI): This is a trigger warning that learning about racial injustices may bring about a great deal of anxiety or anger. As participants of this workshop it is understood that we all come to the discussion at various levels as it relates to one’s participation or exposure to racial justice advocacy and educational content. Please be respectful to one another as we all have different experiences and perspectives and here at Chicago NOW our goal is to provide a “safe space” for further reflection and dialogue in a healthy manner. As a result, some of us may be experiencing discomfort and a great deal of cognitive dissonance which is a normal part of the transformational learning process. If this is the case please feel free to follow up with someone from the CNOW leadership team to debrief after your participation in the workshop.

Register Now

We look forward to the opportunity for connection and healing that we have for this New Year. In the meantime, here are couple ways you can continue to be an active participant in your personal journey to move towards racial justice.

Keep the conversation going!

Ask questions, share your story, and listen to the stories of others. While doing so be respectful of the time and experiences of people of color.

Read racial justice educational literature suggestions

The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation by Natalie Y. Moore; Unapologetic a Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene A. Carruthers; Ain’t I a Woman Black Women & Feminism by Bell Hooks; Post Racial or Most Racial? Race and Politics in The Obama Era by Michael Tesler (Chicago Studies in American Politics published by the University of Chicago Press); Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement by Kimberlee Crenshaw; Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory by Derrick A. Bell; and/or Whiteness as Property by Cheryl L. Harris

*CNOW may be hosting a neighborhood book club in a community near you please stay tuned for more information “To Be Announced”

Determine where your local alderman stands on racial equity

Take a look at your city council member’s previous sponsorship history on key racial justice policies by utilizing the tools developed by our friends at “The Center for Racial and Gender Equity” (CRGE) in order to determine if your current alderman is eligible for re-election from a racial equity perspective. Download the Scorecard.

Support Business led by People of Color

Join us in solidarity at Chicago NOW as we celebrate African American history Month by helping to support the work of Sista Afya which is a community based social enterprise that works to support black women’s mental wellness in the Chicago area. More information about the organization can be found here: https://www.sistaafya.com/

Any questions regarding the upcoming racial justice educational event please contact: Krystle Everett at: info@chicagonow.org

Chicago NOW President on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight

Chicago NOW President on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight

On Monday, January 28, 2019 , Chicago NOW President Paloma Delgadillo spoke on WTTW – Chicago PBS regarding the recent Gillette commercial and subsequent controversy about men’s rights and feminism. In intersectional feminism, we call on our allies to use their voices to speak to the harmful behaviors that may be exhibited in their own community. Calling on men to do better is not the same as oppression, but instead a necessary and positive action that must be taken in order to fight against misogyny.

This discussion was also a sobering reminder that sexism is still alive and well. Though it may not always be apparent, it is still obvious in the behaviors we view as normal and in society’s inability to hold men (and all people) accountable for their actions. We have made great strides in the last few decades, but we must keep pushing for what we believe in. The fight for women’s rights can be won, but only if we keep voting, speaking out, and living every day in accordance with our feminist values.

Another Successful Women Who Dared Event

Kina Collins and Kim Foxx Accept their Women Who Dared Award

Chicago NOW’s annual Women Who Dared fundraising event took place last week and was a resounding success! This year, CNOW honored Cook County States Attorney Kim Foxx and the Chairwoman for the Illinois Council on Women and Girls Kina Collins.

Kina and Kim gave inspirational addresses, and the event was an empowering display of what women can do when we come together.

A huge thank you to our sponsors:

Silver: Alma and David Delgadillo

Bronze: Joel Kowsky, Jessica Scheller, Sue Straus

To our silent auction donors: Bella Voce, Hazel, Building Blocks Toy Store, Chicago Wolves, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Court Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, L&A Healing Studio, Women and Children First and Chicago A Cappella. Thank you so much for your generous donations!

Thank you to all that attended!

Stay tuned for information on our next events: March to the Polls on October 13th, and Hug Your Body & Embrace Your Vote on Monday Oct 29.

Feminist Happy Hour: NOW that’s what I call Galentine’s Day!

Title: Feminist Happy Hour: NOW that’s what I call Galentine’s Day!
Location: Beauty Bar Chicago, 1444 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60622
Link out: Click here
Description: Chicago NOW is partnering with local artists to co-host a Galentine’s Day Feminist Happy Hour On February 14, 2017. We are excited to elevate the voices of local artists committed to intersectional feminism. Join us for a night of conversation and cocktails at Beauty Bar Chicago
Start Time: 19:00
Date: 2018-02-14
End Time: 21:00