The White Plains Examiner

NOW Reboots Westchester Chapter

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Lisa Hofflich
Lisa Hofflich

The press release announcing the first meeting of the relaunched Westchester Chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women) held a powerful message:

“The last 12 months saw iconic moments in feminism – Malala Yousafzai accepted her Nobel Peace Prize and became a symbol of hope for equality and opportunity for women of all ages; Emma Watson spoke at the UN and sparked an international #hashtag movement; Emma Sulkowicz raised awareness about college campus sexual assault by carrying around a mattress everywhere she went; even Time Magazine brought attention to feminism when it included – and later backtracked – the word on a list of terms to be banned. And who can forget how loudly people cheered as Patricia Arquette sounded the call for equal pay at the Academy Awards?”

After a more than five-year hiatus, the Westchester Chapter of NOW held its first meeting in Dobbs Ferry last week under the direction of Chapter President Lisa Hofflich.

Hofflich’s intent is to use the platform to get women and men re-involved in what she calls the fourth wave—or more rightly a tsunami—of new feminism.

The goal of the Chapter is to talk through the issues and strategize.

“Each generation winds up reinventing feminism for itself,” says Hofflich. “But while some things got better for some women over time, other related problems and concerns popped up that echo many of the same inequities we heard 40 years ago. We need new voices – male and female, older and younger– to counter these issues and shift the discussion from just a battle for ‘women’s equality’ to instead a fight for genuine ‘gender equality’. Women’s empowerment can’t come without involving men in the conversation and implementation of policies and programs that support us as true equals.”

Legislative actions Hofflich has proposed the Chapter support, include the Boss Bill a law proposed by State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Ellen Jaffe that would prohibit employers from discrimination based on the reproductive health choices of their employees. And a Bill proposed by Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins that codifies the alignment of State law with existing federal law in Roe v. Wade.

Other important issues include pay equity, pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, social security caregiver credit, paid family leave insurance, domestic violence survivors justice, stopping funding cuts to rape crisis programs and domestic violence service providers, shining a light on campus sexual assault, gender expression and nondiscrimination, gender conversion therapy ban, and protecting the relationship between children and their parents, especially when parents are unmarried or one or more parents are not biologically related to the child, and human trafficking.

Hofflich sees women of different generations coming together to fight for women’s lives. “The public is ready for change,” she said. “Members of the Baby Boom generation are keeping an eye on the status of rights they already fought for. The Millennials are out there blogging about body objectification and the right of women to take back their own sexuality.”

“We are mothers, daughters, sisters,” Hofflich adds, noting strongly that NOW is also involved in lesbian rights and transgender issues. “Feminism is evolving,” she says.

By relaunching, the Westchester Chapter has access to an existing database of about 650 members that is in the process of being activated.

One of the first public events may be a protest rally in White Plains to support Equal Pay.

The current leadership of Westchester NOW includes: Lisa Hofflich, President (Mount Vernon); Raquelle Frenchman, Vice President (Rye); Trina Ward Fontaine, Treasurer (Armonk); Susan Hawkins, Secretary (Bronxville); and Elizabeth Nutig, High School Chair, Young Activists Alliance (Irvington).

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