Policy-wise, women in New York have it better than those in other places around the country (in terms of ease in obtaining birth control and abortion services), but we still have a long way to go. “Right now we are facing so many threats [against] access to sexual reproductive health care,” says Christina Chang, vice president of public affairs at Planned Parenthood of New York City. “A lot is on the line from the Supreme Court with the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade and legislation that could end the Affordable Care Act.” The ACA provides women with free access to birth-control pills, which is particularly important considering how many women are struggling to make ends meet. “In New York City, one out of every four [females] is living in poverty,” says Ana L. Oliveira, president and CEO of the New York Women’s Foundation. “This statistic is simply unacceptable in a city as rich in resources and talent as ours.” We agree, and here’s how you can stretch your talents and resources to help.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to activism in NYC
True to its name, this nonprofit focuses on getting women what they need to dress for the job they want. By providing women with professional, well-fitting clothes for interviews and their first week of employment, Dress for Success empowers them to feel confident and make a good first impression in a society that tends to unfairly judge females on appearance more than it does men. You can help someone on her first step to a better life by donating gently used professional garments. There are also opportunities to volunteer by assisting in the boutiques to organize the clothing, or if you have a particular talent with beauty products, the organization also provides services to teach makeup application that’s appropriate for the workplace.
Since 1966, feminists have flocked to NOW to demand equal pay, reproductive rights and laws protecting against sexual harassment, domestic violence and human trafficking. As the largest chapter in the country, NOW-NYC leads in many efforts to get legislation passed on both a local and national level to further these causes. Join the movement by becoming a member, and learn about ongoing and one-time-only volunteer opportunities that include being a clinic escort and phone banking for politicians running for office. Learn more about how to be an activist at the Women’s March on Washington on January 21 (NOW is organizing buses to D.C.) at the meeting on Saturday 10 (5 to 7pm; R.S.V.P. on website for address).
The NYWF has three main focuses: empowering women with education, job training and financial literacy; keeping girls, women and transgender people safe from intimate-partner abuse (and keeping girls and trans kids safe from child abuse); and promoting reproductive health. Professional women can join the foundation’s efforts by signing on for various committees, including the Committee for the Future, which is geared toward first-time philanthropists and organizes events and activities to raise money and awareness for women and girls living in poverty.
As the country’s leading nonprofit providing women with reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood serves millions each year with health screenings, sex education and advocacy. While there’s a waiting list to join the New York branch’s Activist Council, which (among other things) provides clinic escorts in Manhattan and Brooklyn, there are plenty of regularly planned events that supporters can join. Locals can contribute to volunteer nights that raise sex-ed awareness by filling Safer Sex kits (pouches with condoms, dental dams, personal lubricant and other items) and stuffing envelopes with health-care info. And if you’re looking to donate to PP (while having a blast), there are awesome benefit shows in town: On December 14, the frenetic rockers Honduras are donating all proceeds from their show at Baby’s All Right to the organization, as is the ongoing comedy night Stand Up with Planned Parenthood at Littlefield.
Unite with like-minded folks in Union Square! At this 12-hour rally, join thousands of women, people from marginalized communities and their supporters to protest proposed legislation that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood and to limit access to abortions. You’ll also speak against pay inequality, workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and rape. Organizers are proposing a one-day spending boycott to prove their economic power during the holiday season, too. Check out the event’s Facebook page for updates.