Formation of YFTF:
- Marcia Pappas, the president of NOW – NYS, and the NOW – NYS board, are serious about including the young feminist voice at the NOW – NYS level, and recently approved the proposal of the new taskforce.
- The proposal (please find below) was accepted, with Jerin Alam and Ben Siegel appointed as the co-chairs.
Diversity within the YFTF:
- Both Jerin and Ben believe in diversity. Jerin is an immigrant and woman of color. Ben is a male feminist.
- They believe, in order to have a truly inclusive young feminist voice, the YFTF must include members from across the state - not just New York City - where they reside.
- They want to include a diversity of opinions and backgrounds. As a result, they want to include young feminists (aged 35 and under) of all races, ethnicities, religions, class backgrounds and gender identities, including men, women, transgender, etc.
- Their vision is to have a viral feminist campaign that involves all age groups – from kindergarten to college.
- Both Jerin and Ben are excited about the possibilities of this brand new taskforce. They welcome your ideas to make it into what we all want it to be. In fact, they are strongly against this being a two-person show.
- An hourly conference call per month
- A monthly task all YFTF members must participate in. It can be as simple as making a phone call/signing a petition and forwarding the information to others.
- A monthly written update (a paragraph) on current feminist tasks/projects/ideas.
- Engage sexist/chauvinistic attitudes whenever they present themselves. This could be fodder for discussion/blogging/the monthly report.
- Anything else YOU want to do.
If you are a young feminist who wants to enact change all around New York State, and have the dedication and passion, please contact them at YoungFeminists@gmail.com
Jerin Alam and Ben Siegel
NOW – NYS Young Feminist Task Force
New York State (NYS) Chapter
National Organization for Women (NOW)
The National Organization for Women is the nation’s largest organization working to advance women’s rights and improve women’s lives.
Name of Task Force
NOW-NYS Young Feminist Task Force (YFTF)
Name(s) of chair and co-chair
Jerin Alam and Ben Siegel
Other Possible members:
- Sabrina Caprioli, incoming president of the feminist club I led at Hunter College from 2007-2009 (before graduation), currently interning at DNC
- Yogita Ramrattan, incoming VP of the feminist club I led at Hunter College
- Daniel Wald, VP of feminist club at Ithaca College before graduation, instrumental in working against sexual assault on campus, and current board member of SAFER (Students Active for Ending Rape)
- Katherine Kita, incoming treasurer of the feminist club I led at Hunter College
Why do you believe that NOW-NYS needs this task force?
- NOW-NYS has a long history of progressive activism. Creating the YFTF can be a beneficial endeavor for both NOW-NYS and young feminists alike.
- NOW-NYS will benefit from the energy, passion and fresh ideas from young feminists, while we will benefit from the experience and knowledge of feminists who came before us. I am personally grateful for the generations of feminists before me – without whom I would not enjoy many of the privileges I have today, everything from the right to vote to gender-violence laws.
- One of the complaints young feminists have is that they feel underrepresented in feminist circles. Having an YFTF that listens to their concerns will help overcome this hurdle.
- NOW as an organization can do a better job of reaching out to and tapping into the numerous young feminists out there, especially on college campuses. Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) has done a good job of tapping into this resource. As the past president of a highly active campus feminist group, I can personally attest to FMF’s campus organizing skills. I would love NOW-NYS to use those strategies to engage more young feminists and move forward the entire feminist agenda.
What are the goals of the task force? How will you achieve these goals?
We will have a few different goals.
1. Report to NOW-NYS on the thought-process and trends of young feminists.
- Monthly conference calls with young feminists across the state
- Free survey monkey surveys to gauge the same information
- Utilize established contacts with feminists across NYS
2. Utilize young feminists to carry out the goals of NOW-NYS
- Use technology and social networking sites such as Facebook, blogs, Twitter, etc. to send out action alerts & plan events
- Choose monthly action all YFTF members must participate in and engage others in
3. Increase membership
- Utilize established contacts with feminists across NYS
- One of the biggest issues I faced as a feminist leader trying to recruit for the cause is the negative image of the other “f-word.”
- I want to use the power of marketing to show America and the rest of the world the true meaning of feminism.
- Many people do not identify as feminists because the media has been vigilant in painting a negative stereotype of us.
- I want to use social marketing to show people how their values make them feminists, whether they admit it or not.
- At hunter, we have been successful in challenging these concerns to increase membership of the feminist club. I plan to use the same skills to engage feminists statewide.
4. Engage more men to join the cause.
- Ben Siegel, who I propose as my co-chair, was the vice president of the feminist club I ran at Hunter College from 2007-2008. When we would table to increase membership, Ben’s presence or the mere mention of him as a club officer helped put students at ease, and increased our membership. Because of Ben’s contribution, we had another male officer the year after he graduated, who joined after meeting Ben. Ben’s easy-going personality and gregarious nature can help us gain membership, especially among men.
- Having male representation also helps increase diversity. It certainly helped the Hunter club, with programs such as workshops held by Men Can Stop Rape, attended by three deans and the head of public safety.
- Having male presence also helps fight erroneous stereotypes of the “man-hating feminist.”
5. Combat gender violence, a form of hate crime.
- This is probably my biggest passion within feminism.
- It is very fitting for the YFTF, since college-aged women are at higher risk for sexual assault.
- I helped direct the Hunter club in countless anti-violence programming on campus.
- I can share my knowledge to conduct similar programming throughout NOW-NYS and help campuses throughout NYS.
6. Engage campuses statewide to change and or enforce their campus sexual-assault policies.
- I have personal experience in this; I am one of two students who proposed and is on the taskforce of 13 to create a university-wide sexual-assault policy for all 480,000 City University of New York (CUNY) students.
- I can also put campuses in touch with great resources like SAFER, Students Active for Ending Rape, an organization that works exclusively on this subject, and is based in NYS.
- Another great resource is Men Can Stop Rape, an organization that puts the focus where it belongs – majority of perpetrators.
- A third amazing resource that is also reasonably priced is the Bringing in the Bystander program. Research shows that this is the most effective form of workshop/education in the fight against violence. The program emphasizes that everyone has a role to play in ending violence against women on campus. This sexual violence prevention program uses a community of responsibility model to teach bystanders how to intervene safely and effectively in cases of sexual violence before, during, and after incidents with strangers, acquaintances, or friends. We had a successful training on 3/19/08 in which the directors of Public Safety and Wellness Education attended, as well as other staff members of their offices. People were so impressed that we had a “train-the-trainer” workshop on 3/18/09, in which the Director of Public Safety at CUNY sent two of his top trainers. Hunter’s Director of Public Safety also sent his associate director and another officer. The public safety personnel reviewed the training & immediately incorporated it to all public safety personnel training starting the following week. Associate General Counsel of CUNY also attended the training, brainstormed ways of incorporating the education to all CUNY students, and changed the language of the draft of the CUNY-wide sexual assault policy to include bystander training.
- Utilize connections to anti-rape organizations across the state, such as NYC Coalition Against Sexual Assault, SAVI, CVTC, etc.
7. Teach college and high school students how to secure funding for feminist causes.
- I gave a workshop on this topic, and on combating violence against women during the NOW-NYS annual convention on November 7-9, 2008.
- Although the Hunter Women’s Rights Coalition was given only a $3,650 budget during the 2008-2009 school year, I was able to apply for grants and ask for co-sponsorships to triple our budget, and secure an additional $6,000 for our club’s programming.
- I would love to share my knowledge and learn of other ways to secure funding for feminism.