In early 2012, the amount of legislation threatening women’s rights reached such a fever pitch that an immense groundswell of support for a resurgence of the Women’s Rights Movement developed all across America. Women everywhere had been looking for a way to band together to protest the chipping away of their rights! Images of the arrests of peaceful, silent protesters standing up against the 2012 mandatory ultrasound legislation in Virginia’s General Assembly were indelibly etched into the minds of women around the country. The founders of Unite Against The War On Women saw these Virginia arrests, and personhood bills making their way through several states, on the news. They also watched in horror as a Congressional panel on contraception, comprised entirely of men, denied testimony to a Georgetown Law Student, Sandra Fluke.
“I don’t know why women haven’t taken to the streets over this War on Women.”
“If we build it, they will come!”
The two friends hung up the phone. Later that night, Karen Teegarden started a Facebook page with the click of a mouse and Unite Against The War on Women was born. Fueled by pure passion, and inspired to fight, thousands of people joined that Facebook group within a matter of 24 hours.
The organization grew exponentially, forcing organization in short order with a clear goal: just two months after the start of the organization, on April 28, 2012, UniteWomen.org organized 55 simultaneous women’s rights rallies and marches in 45 states to protest the War on Women.
Very quickly, Karen realized that the initial goal of planning rallies across the country would only be the beginning of the work they could do to educate the public on issues affecting women and begin to change the cultural and social conversation disrespecting women overall. In that first week, she focused on the overall vision of what this movement could become and the potential impact it might have on society. Hence, UniteWomen.org was born.
Over a year later, the UniteWomen.org Facebook page has over 80,000 followers and UniteWomen.org has a reach of 24 million people worldwide – thanks in large part to the medium it utilizes to the fullest extent possible: social media. Thousands of volunteers participate in women’s rights efforts on a daily basis, and there are hundreds of Facebook groups within the organization. UniteWomen.org grew from an idea in a late-night phone conversation between two friends into an established, effective force for women’s rights in a matter of months. Those thousands of women hoping to take to the streets in protest have done just that – and they aren’t about to stop now!
UniteWomen.org was founded on social media, by one click of a mouse used to start a Facebook group. We have rapidly grown from that instantaneous start into having more than 80,000 followers and well over ten thousand people working in the trenches with us on a daily basis. Everyone in UniteWomen.org is a volunteer, from the President to the volunteers handing out flyers on the streets. The fact that we are an organization comprised of people so devoted to equality that they are willing to donate their time to forward the cause brings us great pride, and it fuels our passion to work hard and accomplish our goals.
Ten weeks into our birth, we achieved our initial goal of organizing and implementing 55 rallies in 45 states across the country – all held on one day. Our group was then called, “Unite Against the War On Women.” We utilized all aspects of social media, and continue to do that every day on the national and local levels. Those rallies may have been our initial goal but we soon realized in order to really make a difference in women’s lives, we needed to create an organization, using social media platforms to spread information about protests, campaigns, legislation, calls to action and unification. Hence, UniteWomen.org was created.
On a daily basis, the executive, national, regional and state teams manage over 250 different Facebook groups and hold meetings on Google Hangout with volunteers from across the country in real time. We also have a Campus Division nationwide, a graphics, research twitter departments, 12 monthly task force campaigns for various human rights issues, and state and regional directors. We have teams to manage each national campaign, each social media platform, fundraising, and much more. Social Media enables us to work as a cohesive team from our own homes, and we have already accomplished so much that sometimes it’s overwhelming to think about it all!
Our groups have held vigils, protests, voter registration drives, volunteered at clinics and domestic violence shelters, held many coordinated social media events – including several Twitter bombs. We’ve met with legislators, joined with other groups for unification of human rights advocates, sponsored pro-choice events, co-sponsored the Suffrage Centennial Celebration in D.C., run campaigns such as Unite Against Rape and We Are Good Women. We have taken local initiatives started by others and brought them onto the national scale, such as Bethany Erickson’s Need Your Permission campaign. We have spoken at political and social conferences, protested conferences and statehouses. Most importantly, we have given a voice to tens of thousands of women in America who felt disenfranchised and wanted some way to take part in the now historic fight against the legislative War on Women.
There are two branches of UniteWomen.org: UniteWomen.org and UniteWomen.org Action. The former is for educational and social justice work. The latter is geared toward having a political voice to lobby for or against legislation. We want to speak loudly – we want ALL women (and men who support women) to speak loudly. UniteWomen.org wants our voices to resonate and be heard as we teach, contemplate, engage, volunteer, unite, sponsor events, protest, meet with legislators and members of our communities and arm our members with the tools they need to fully participate in the political process for women’s rights and human rights.
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