our purpose

ValuableChanging Cultural Attitudes and Images - Charlottesville NOW seeks to free women and men from the oppression of pre-determined gender roles. Stereotyping limits aspirations and opportunities for women and girls in education and careers. Using demeaning images and language to depict women in the media fosters attitudes of male supremacy and acceptance of violence against women.

ERAPassing and Ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment - State laws to uphold women's rights are inconsistent and often inadequate. Therefore, Charlottesville NOW believes that only an amendment to the United States Constitution will guarantee a national standard for the elimination of sex discrimination. The 1972 ERA language, that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” would shift the burden of proof to those who want to discriminate between women and men.

Improving the Economic Status of Women - Charlottesville NOW is dedicated to empowering women financially and overcoming society's apathy towards the feminization of poverty. The vast majority of the poor in our country are women and children. Barriers inhibiting access to basic education, health care, and social services—and the persistence of low-income “women's work”—contribute to an ongoing cycle of poverty. We work to reduce the disparity in earnings between men and women (known as the “wage gap”); eradicate sex discrimination in employment, credit, insurance, inheritance laws, taxes, and advertising; and increase the number of women in positions of power.

Protecting and Strengthening Reproductive Freedom - Charlottesville NOW works towards a society that guarantees women the right to personal freedom in decisions concerning their own bodies, especially the right to choose childbearing. Reproductive freedom includes access to vital health care, including preventative screenings, contraception and family planning, abortion and adoption services, accurate and comprehensive sex education, and instruction in responsible decision-making.

Supporting and Protecting Families - Individuals develop best within supportive families and involved communities, so equitable and healthful family life is a primary goal of Charlottesville NOW. Families are most supportive when the adults have a mutual respect for one another and share household responsibilities fairly. Communities are most healthy when citizens have access to affordable health care, as well as child care and the enforcement of child support, foster care and adoption services, elder care, and other social services. Therefore, we encourage the development and protection of all nurturing environments—whether in the myriad non-traditional family structures, or the “traditional” families, which constitute a very small proportion of family units in this country.

SilenceEliminating Racism and Protecting Minority Rights - Charlottesville NOW is committed to eliminating discrimination against individuals, including their sex, race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, or national origin. We particularly want to end the double burden carried by women of color because of the discrimination they experience due to their race as well as their sex. We work to secure full human rights for all people, including lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals. We seek a unified women's movement that promotes respect for the uniqueness and dignity of every individual. We believe fully in respect for privacy, freedom from harassment and discrimination, and acceptance of the right of everyone to choose a traditional or non-traditional family structure for themselves, without government intervention.

ViolenceEliminating Violence against Women - Charlottesville NOW works to eliminate violence, especially sexual violence, against women and children. The assumption that violence is acceptable or inevitable must be changed. We need to strengthen public education about exploitation, pornography—particularly violent pornography—and the negative effects of cultural stereotypes, which promote the acceptance of women and children as objects and victims. We also need to ensure enforcement of laws which protect women and children from prostitution and slavery.

Promoting Equity in Religious Institutions - Because religion is the framework upon which our laws and values are based, and because many religions are permeated with sexist assumptions, a major goal of Charlottesville NOW must be to promote the fundamental respect for every individual through all religious institutions and traditions. Fair-minded and far-seeing leadership must be developed, since leadership so often determines the rituals and practices of religious institutions. Symbolic and practical affirmations must replace elements of religious institutions and traditions which discriminate against or degrade women. Efforts to achieve NOW's purpose will not be sufficient without including this goal.