National Organization for Women
(NOW) is the largest feminist organization in the United States. It was founded in 1966 and has a membership
of 500,000 contributing members and 5987 chapters in all 50 U.S.
states and the District Of
Logo of the National Organization for
founded on June 30 1966
D.C., by 28 women and men attending the Third National
Conference of the Commission on the Status of Women, the successor
to the Presidential
Commission on the Status of Women.
It had been three
years since the Commission reported findings of women being
discriminated against. However, the 1966 Conference delegates were
prohibited by the administration's rules for the conference from
even passing resolutions recommending that the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforce its legal mandate to end sex
The founders included Betty Friedan
the author of The Feminine
(1963), Rev. Pauli
, the first African-American female Episcopal priest, and
, the first Black
woman to run for president of the United States of America. Acting
from the tenet that women and men are alike in important respects
and, therefore, entitled to equal rights and opportunities, the
movement spawned by Friedan's book is embodied in NOW, the National
Organization for Women, which works to secure political,
professional, and educational equality for women. Founded in 1966
with Betty Friedan acting as an organizer, NOW is a public voice
for equal rights for women. It has been extremely effective in
enacting rhetorical strategies that have brought about concrete
changes in laws and policies that enlarge women's opportunities and
protect their rights.
During the 1970s NOW promoted the Equal Rights Amendment
. After Congress approved the
amendment in 1972, it was quickly ratified by 28 states, and its
passage seemed assured. However, a Stop ERA campaign, led by
of the legislation. By 1973, of the needed 38 states, 35 had
ratified the amendment, but the remaining ones – conservative
Southern and Western states – refused to support passage, and the
ERA was defeated.
The organization remains active in lobbying legislatures and media
outlets on feminist issues.
Statement of purpose
and Pauli Murray
wrote the organization's Statement
of Purpose in 1966 (the original was scribbled on a napkin by
Friedan). The statement described the purpose of NOW as "The
purpose of NOW is to take action to bring women into full
participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising
all privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal
partnership with men
The current membership brochure paraphrases and expands upon the
above excerpt to read: "Our purpose is to take action to bring
women into full participation in society – sharing equal rights,
responsibilities and opportunities with men, while living free from
discrimination." This brochure also states: "NOW is one of the few
multi-issue progressive organizations in the United States. NOW
stands against all oppression, recognizing that racism
are interrelated, that other forms of
oppression such as classism and ableism work together with these
three to keep power and privilege concentrated in the hands of a
few." (From About NOW
Because its membership is open on the basis of agreement with
principle and not gender alone, its name is "National Organization
for Women" and not "of Women".
NOW's priority issues concern U.S. domestic policy. The six top
priority issues, of about twenty issues, that NOW addresses are
abortion rights / reproductive issues, violence against women,
constitutional equality, promoting diversity / ending racism,
lesbian rights, and economic justice.
to NOW's bylaws, NOW's focus is on domestic American issues; however, NOW does some work on other issues
of importance to women and children globally.
include genocide in Africa. NOW is also a coalition member with
other feminist groups whose mission is global feminism.
Structure and chapters
The membership, meeting yearly in conference, is the supreme
governing body of NOW. NOW draws its broad grassroots strength from
a nationwide network of local chapters, which are chartered by
national NOW and which engage in a wide variety of action programs
in their communities. There are also various state organizations,
which serve to develop and provide resources to local chapters, as
well as coordinate statewide activities.
The national level of the organization is led by four elected
national officers, by the national Board of Directors, and by
national issues committees. These national leaders are responsible
for implementing policy as formulated by the annual National
Conference, for coordinating national actions, and for providing
membership services. NOW
has had ten national presidents
, beginning with Betty Friedan
in 1966. Terry O'Neill
currently serving national president, was elected President in
Among past leaders and notables at various organizational levels of
NOW are Ti-Grace Atkinson
Ernesta Drinker Ballard
Rita Mae Brown
; Shirley Chisholm
; Kathryn F. Clarenbach
; Caroline Davis; Karen DeCrow
; Betty Friedan
; Sonia Pressman Fuentes
; Kim Gandy
; Wilma Scott Heide
; Shere Hite
; Patricia Ireland
Florynce "Flo" Kennedy
; Phyllis Lyon
; Kate Millett
; Virginia "Ginny" Montes
; Pauli Murray
; Sylvia Roberts; Barbara
; Eleanor Smeal
Witter; and Molly Yard
. Some were
; some served in other capacities. In addition, NOW
has given awards to women recognizing work outside of NOW and many
others, who may be well-known elsewhere, have been members and
Ohio, at its 1989 convention on July
23, NOW delegates questioned the merits of the two-party system and broached the idea of
forming a third
The same convention issued a "Declaration of
Women's Political Independence
." An exploratory commission was
formed for the possibilities of amending the United States Constitution
include freedom from sexual
, the right to a decent standard of living
, the right to clean
air, clean water and environment
protections, and the right to be free from violence
The commission was chaired by former NOW president Eleanor Smeal
. A month earlier, NOW launched a
, which included Smeal, John Anderson
, Toney Anaya
and Dee Barry
ERA and CEA
Ratification of the Equal Rights
remains a priority for the organization, "Equality of
rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United
States or by any State on account of sex," from their platform.
During that same conference NOW also wrote their own constitutional
amendment which would cover all of NOW's programs of reform,
including abortion, lesbian and gay rights, affirmative action,
etc. and labeled it the Constitutional Equality Amendment.
Although NOW has given moral support to attempts to ratify the ERA,
they also continue to support the CEA as part of their official
The Constitutional Equality Amendment, which has not been
introduced into any session of Congress, reads;
- Women and men shall have equal rights throughout the United
States and every place and entity subject to its jurisdiction;
through this article, the subordination of women to men is
- All persons shall have equal rights and privileges without
discrimination on account of sex, race, sexual orientation, marital
status, ethnicity, national origin, color or indigence;
- This article prohibits pregnancy discrimination and guarantees
the absolute right of a woman to make her own reproductive
decisions including the termination of pregnancy;
- This article prohibits discrimination based upon
characteristics unique to or stereotypes about any class protected
under this article. This article also prohibits discrimination
through the use of any facially neutral criteria which have a
disparate impact based on membership in a class protected under
- This article does not preclude any law, program or activity
that would remedy the effects of discrimination and that is closely
related to achieving such remedial purposes;
- This article shall be interpreted under the highest standard of
- The United States and the several states shall guarantee the
implementation and enforcement of this article.
NOW has come under criticism from various pro-life, conservative
, and fathers' rights
groups, in addition to opposing NOW's position on abortion, accuse
NOW of trying to censor opposing viewpoints with their lawsuit of
under the RICO
. During the 1990s, NOW was criticized for having a
double standard when it refused to support women who made
accusations of sexual misconduct (sexual harassment charged by
and Kathleen Willey
and rape charged by Juanita Broaddrick
) against former
President Bill Clinton
for the resignation of Republican
) who was accused of
NOW has also been criticized by feminists who claim it is too
inclusive , and focuses on liberal policy issues rather than
women's rights. NOW has been criticized for not supporting pro-life
feminists , as well as those feminists who oppose gay marriage ,
health care reform , as well as other liberal issues, and support
the Iraq War. Some members, such as LA NOW chapter president
left NOW, saying they oppose
putting liberal and partisan policy positions over equality for all
women. Tammy Bruce has attacked NOW for not doing enough to
advocate for international women's rights, but instead attacking
the George W. Bush White House for their conservative positions.
trend of putting politics over feminism began in 1982, the year the ERA was defeated, when NOW, under
President Judy Goldsmith, fiercely
opposed Reaganomics, and endorsed
Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick's
Democratic opponent in a New Jersey Senate race due to her support of Ronald Reagan's economic agenda.
- National Organization for Women (NOW) is established by a group
of women, including Betty Friedan,
Pauli Murray, and Muriel Fox who meet to discuss alternative action
strategies during the Third Annual Conference of Commissions on the
Status of Women in Washington, D.C. Friedan famously writes the
acronym NOW on a paper napkin.
- NOW holds its founding conference. Betty Friedan is elected
president and Kay Clarenbach, chair of the board. Aileen Hernandez is elected executive vice
president in absentia; Richard
Graham, vice president; and Caroline
Davis, secretary-treasurer. NOW sets up seven Task Forces:
Equal Opportunity of Employment; Legal and Political Rights;
Education; Women in Poverty; The Family; Image of Women; and Women
and Religion .
- NOW officers and members begin petitioning EEOC for public
hearings on its advertising guidelines and pressuring the
Commission to enforce its prohibition against sex discrimination.
NOW officers and 35 members file a formal petition with the EEOC
for hearings to amend regulations on sex-segregated "Help Wanted"
- At its second national conference, NOW adopts passage of the
Equal Rights Amendment (ERA),
the repeal of all abortion laws, and publicly-funded child care
among its goals in a "Bill of Rights for Women." NOW is the first
national organization to endorse the legalization of abortion.
- NOW's National Board adopts by-laws providing for the
establishment of chapters, and establishing the national conference
as the supreme governing body of the organization.
- In May, the EEOC holds hearings on sex discrimination in
employment ads as a result of NOW's 1966 petition. NOW members
demonstrate at EEOC field offices across the country in protest of
EEOC's failure to end sex-segregated "Help Wanted" advertising. In
December, four NYC newspapers, including the New York Times,
de-sexigrate their Help Wanted ads.
- NOW chapters around the country demonstrate at facilities that
deny admittance or service to women, demanding equal treatment of
women in all public accommodations.
- NOW boycotts Colgate-Palmolive products, and demonstrates for
five days in front of the company's NYC headquarters, protesting
company rules that kept women out of top-paying jobs with a
prohibition against lifting more than 35 pounds.
- In November, NOW member Shirley
Chisholm becomes the first Black woman elected to the U.S.
House of Representatives.
- On February 9, NOW proclaims "Public Accommodations Week," and
holds national actions at "men only" restaurants, bars, and public
transportation. A month before, the U.S. Court of Appeals rules in
favor of EEOC guidelines prohibiting sex-segregated job
- In March, NOW attorney Sylvia Roberts (later NOW's Southern
Regional Director, from Baton Rouge, LA) argues the first sex
discrimination case appealed under Title VII. Roberts argues in the
Appeals Fifth Circuit that it was sex discrimination for Lorena
Weeks, a secretary, to be restricted from higher-paying employment
as a "switchman" because of a 30-pound lifting limit. Weeks entered
the courtroom with her typewriter, which she was regularly required
to lift and move — yes, it weighed more than 30 pounds. The court
later rules in Weeks v. Southern Bell that the
weight limitation rule for women violated Title VII of the Civil
- NOW holds a week-long action called "Freedom for Women Week" at
the White House, beginning on Mother's Day. Demonstrators call for
"Rights, Not Roses."
chapters work to establish women's studies courses, beginning at
universities in California and Michigan, and at
- In February, about 20 NOW members, led by Wilma Scott Heide and Jean Witter, disrupt the Senate hearings on the
18-year-old vote to demand hearings on the Equal Rights Amendment.
At a signal from Heide, the women rise and unfold posters they had
concealed in their purses.
- NOW establishes a Federal Compliance Committee to press for
enforcement of federal equal opportunity laws requiring that
federal contractors not discriminate against women. NOW files a sex
discrimination complaint with the Office of Federal Contract
Compliance against 1,300 corporations for failing to file
affirmative action plans for hiring women.
- NOW organizes "Women's Strike for Equality" on the 50th
Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, with actions in more than 90
cities and towns in 40 states. 50,000 women march on Fifth Avenue
in New York.
- In August, after an intense campaign by NOW, the House passes
the ERA by a vote of 350-15.
- NOW campaigns for the Comprehensive Child Care Act, sponsored
in the Senate by Walter Mondale and
Jacob Javits, and in the House by
Shirley Chisholm and Bella Abzug; NOW lobbies the comprehensive
legislation through both houses of Congress, but it is vetoed by
President Richard Nixon, who calls it
the "Sovietization of American children."
- NOW protests the Department of Health, Education and Welfare's
failure to deal with discrimination complaints against
universities, and work begins on what will eventually become Title
- NOW petitions the Federal Communications
Commission to have women included in affirmative action
programs for radio and television ownership and employment
- NOW stages nationwide demonstrations protesting AT&T's discriminatory practices towards women,
thus beginning a campaign that will last several years and end in
massive back pay for women who had been excluded.
- NOW adopts a resolution recognizing that lesbian rights are "a legitimate concern of
- NOW endorses Shirley Chisholm, a NOW member, in the democratic
primary. Chisholm is the first African American woman to run for
President, and NOW's first presidential endorsement.
- NOW organizes a national campaign to pass a law guaranteeing
women and girls equal educational opportunities, including higher
education admissions and athletic participation. In June, Congress
passes the Education Amendments of 1972, which includes Title IX, a guarantee of equal educational
opportunities, including sports.
|1972 - 1982
||After the Senate passes the ERA 84-8, NOW leads ERA
ratification campaigns in all 50 states. By 1977, 35 of the
necessary 38 states have ratified the amendment.
- Roe v. Wade invalidates all state laws that restrict abortion in the first three months of pregnancy,
grounding the decision on the right to privacy, and permits second
trimester regulations only to protect the woman's health. NOW
chapters begin escorting patients into the newly established
clinics, which are already being picketed.
- The NOW Task Force on Rape is created to set up Rape Crisis Centers and hotlines across
the country; NOW begins campaigns to redefine rape as a crime of violence.
- NOW establishes the Task Force on Sexuality and
- Conceived by NOW, August 26, the anniversary of the passage of
the suffrage amendment, is declared Women's Equality Day by
Congress and the President.
- In June, after a five year campaign by NOW and more than three
years of litigation of the NOW complaint, the U.S. Supreme Court
rules to prohibit sex-segregated employment advertisements.
- NOW organizes an International Feminist Planning Conference in
- NOW passes resolutions calling for the impeachment of Richard Nixon. In September, President
Gerald Ford meets with NOW President
Karen DeCrow and other women
- NOW helps defeat a proposal by the NCAA to
narrow the scope of Title IX; the Educational Equity Act passes
Congress after pressure from NOW and other feminist
- NOW calls all members to the streets to protest violence
against women and to "claim the night and the streets as ours" –
the first "Take Back the Night" actions.
- Congress opens U.S. military academies to women, and NOW pushes
for an immediate effective date.
- In October, NOW sponsors "Alice Doesn't Day," a women's strike,
to draw attention to the many unnoticed services women
- NOW Media Task Force testifies against funding of the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting due to its poor record on women.
- NOW opens its Action Center in Washington, D.C. and projects
its first $1 million budget. NOW continues its campaign for ERA
- The NOW Task Force on Battered Women is established.
- At the historic Houston Women's Conference, led by NOW
President Eleanor Smeal, activists
pass controversial lesbian rights plank despite opposition by
conference organizers. Betty Friedan speaks in favor of the plank.
The conference's final Plan of Action echoes NOW's "Bill of Rights"
proposed a decade earlier.
- NOW adopts bylaws establishing regional election of board
members and delegated National Conferences which elect full-time
salaried national officers.
- In August, NOW organizes the first ERA march, demanding that
President Jimmy Carter take action to ratify the ERA. Four thousand
people attend. Days later, ERA walkathons on Women's Equality Day across the country
raise $150,000 for the NOW ERA Strike Force.
- After considerable debate, NOW conference delegates resolve to
form a Political Action Committee to influence the election of
feminists to office.
- In June, NOW members demonstrate across the country on Gay
- In July, NOW organizes over 100,000 people to march down
Constitution Avenue to the Capitol, demanding an extension of the
ERA ratification deadline. The House and Senate vote to extend the
ratification deadline from 1979 until 1982, which was only half of
the seven years extension that was requested, contributing to the
defeat of the amendment.
- NOW continues to boycott states that have not ratified the ERA,
gaining the support of 321 organizations and 35 cities and
counties. NOW is sued by John
Ashcroft, Missouri's attorney general, claiming the ERA boycott
is unlawful; NOW prevails, establishing the right to use a boycott
for the purpose of petitioning the government.
- NOW helps pass a Rape Shield
Law, protecting the privacy of rape survivors by preventing
cross examination into the woman's prior sexual history.
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, drafted by NOW founder
Phineas Indritz, ends employment
discrimination based on pregnancy, requiring that it be treated as
any temporary disability by employers who are covered by Title
- NOW testifies in Congress against restrictions on abortion
funding for military personnel and dependents.
- NOW unites with other organizations to counter a lobbying
effort to limit Title IX.
- NOW launches a new National ERA Campaign; action teams are set
up in ratified states to prevent rescission. NOW activists defeat
ERA rescission efforts in 13 states.
- NOW Minority Women's Committee organizes the conference "Racism
and Sexism-A Shared Struggle for Equal Rights," in Washington ,
- NOW conference adopts an affirmative action bylaw, reserving a
minimum number of board seats for women of color.
- Over 90,000 ERA supporters gather in Chicago for a march
coordinated by NOW.
- NOW delegation fights to pass the strongest ERA and abortion
rights planks in history at the 1980 Democratic Convention, over
the objections of eventual party nominee, incumbent president
- NOW announces opposition to the draft, but states that if there
is a draft, NOW supports the inclusion of women on the same basis
- Sandra Day O'Connor is
appointed to the US Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan. NOW President Eleanor Smeal testifies in favor of her
- NOW launches a nationwide campaign to stop the Human Life
Amendment, which would prohibit all abortions and ban the use of
some contraceptive pills and
IUDs. State and local chapters across the
country organize to counter anti-abortion legislation.
- ERA Countdown Campaign Offices are opened nationwide, and
rallies around the country occur to kick off the campaign. The
"Last Walk for ERA" raises close to a million dollars.
- The ERA falls three states short of ratification. Supporters
continue to reintroduce it in every session of Congress
- 1982 On Women's Equality Day, NOW's PACs launch a $3 million
fundraising drive for fall state and congressional elections as
part of their ERA vow to "Remember in November"
- NOW activists defeat almost all anti-abortion bills introduced
in state legislatures this year. The U.S. Supreme Court rules 6-3
that government cannot prevent a woman from obtaining an abortion
unless it is clearly justified by "accepted medical practice."
- With other leading civil rights groups, NOW is a lead organizer
of the 20th anniversary march commemorating the 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr. "I Have a
Dream" march. At NOW's urging, Equality is added to the march
theme, making it a march for Peace, Justice and Equality.
- NOW leads a successful campaign to reinstate the cancelled TV
series Cagney and Lacey, with Tyne Daly
and Sharon Gless, which was the first
to portray female police officers and strong role models for
- NOW endorses the Economic Equity Act. NOW chapters nationwide
participate in a "National Day of Protest" against Allstate
Insurance for alleged employment discrimination.
- NOW makes its second presidential endorsement, supporting
women's rights champion Walter
Mondale, former Vice President, in the democratic primary. With
NOW's urging a "Woman VP NOW," Mondale selects Geraldine Ferraro for Vice President. NOW
campaigns nationwide for Mondale/Ferraro.
- NOW's first Lesbian Rights Conference is held in Milwaukee,
- 1984 NOW chapters around the country picket Republican Party offices in
protest of President Reagan's
anti-abortion leadership; carry out publicity campaigns with
Women's Truth Squads. NOW pickets the White House, and demands an
end to abortion-related violence.
|1984 - 1988
||NOW works to pass the Civil Rights Restoration Act, reversing
Supreme Court cases that limited federal laws combating
discrimination based on gender, race, age and disability.
- NOW chapters conduct around-the-clock vigils in 30 abortion
clinics in 18 states to guard against potential violence; NOW
activists continue to provide clinic escort services for
- In June, NOW organizes a national march in D.C. and "Witness for Women's Lives" rallies
in 13 cities protesting the Catholic leadership's opposition to
abortion and contraception.
- NOW organizes first East/West Coast March for Women's Lives, drawing
125,000 demonstrators to Washington, DC and 30,000 to Los Angeles
despite torrential rains.
- NOW Foundation is formed as the tax-deductible litigation,
education and advocacy arm of NOW.
- NOW files a federal civil suit in Delaware against Joseph Scheidler, the Pro-Life Action
League and other groups charged with violence against abortion
clinics, alleging violation of anti-trust and other federal
- NOW convenes first conference on Women of Color and
Reproductive Freedom, followed by regional conferences.
- NOW launches "The Great American Mother's Day Write-In" to
counter the opponents of the Family and Medical Leave
- NOW "Campaign to Free Sharon
Kowalski," successfully brings attention to the rights of
lifetime partners in making medical decisions for each other.
- NOW participates in organizing the National Gay and Lesbian
Rights March that drew hundreds of thousands to D.C.
- NOW unites with NAACP and others to
coordinate "Jobs with Justice" march in Texas.
- NOW holds its second Lesbian Rights Conference in San Diego,
- Congress overrides President Reagan's veto to pass the Civil
Rights Restoration Act, for which NOW fought. The act restored
Title IX equal education laws, which had been effectively suspended
since the 1984 Grove City
decision in the Supreme Court.
- NOW begins long battle with Operation Rescue, defending clinics across
the country from blockades and suing (and eventually bankrupting)
leader Randall Terry for breaking the
2nd March for Women's Lives
brings a record-setting 500,000 to the National Mall to influence the Supreme Court considering a
reversal of Roe v.
- After Supreme Court decisions strike down many
anti-discrimination laws, NOW helps draft a new Civil Rights Act
which passes in 1991, expanding the right of a person to money
damages and jury trials for sex discrimination and sexual
- In November, NOW organizes another 350,000 people for a mass
rally at the Lincoln Memorial, "Mobilization for Women's Lives" is
an unprecedented second mass action in a single year.
|1990 - 1994
||NOW lobbies for four years to pass the Violence Against Women Act
(VAWA), which is signed in 1994 with an unprecedented $1.6 billion
dollar budget for violence prevention and services.
||NOW's Freedom Caravan for Women's Lives begins state tours to
recruit feminist candidates.
- After employees are fired based on sexual orientation, NOW
demands fair hiring practices at Cracker
Barrel Country Stores.
- NOW's National Conference in New York includes a march and
rally of more than 7,500 people to protest the "gag rule." Congress
votes to overturn the George H. W. Bush Administration's
"gag rule" that barred federally financed
family planning clinics from giving women information about
abortion, but Bush vetoes the legislation and the House does not
have enough votes to override. NOW chapters nationwide protest at
Bush administration speaking events.
- NOW's WomenElect 2000 campaign helps recruit dozens of
candidates advocating legal abortion for the Louisiana legislature, which had just
passed a restrictive worst abortion bill.
- NOW participates in a march for peace in the Middle East.
- After two years of intense lobbying, the Civil Rights Act of
1991 finally passes Congress with jury trials and money damages for
sex discrimination – but recovery of punitive damages is capped at
$250,000 in order to prevent a Bush veto.
- NOW's 25th Anniversary celebration includes a Global Feminist
Conference that attracts women leaders from around the world.
- NOW's 3rd March for Women's
Lives sets a record for the largest civil rights demonstration
in the US to date, with 750,000 marching. NOW chapters and National
NOW participate in efforts throughout the year to defend clinics.
As a commencement to a campaign of non-violent civil disobedience,
NOW and Feminist Majority organize
illegal speak-out in front of the White House protesting the U.S.
Supreme Court decision in Casey v. Planned Parenthood.
- NOW runs "Elect Women for a Change" campaigns in several
states, helping feminist candidates to win congressional, state,
and local primaries. Founding convention of the 21st Century Party
takes place in D.C.
David Gunn, an abortion
provider, is murdered in Pensacola. NOW demands that Clinton administration
assign a multi-agency task force to identify and prosecute the
perpetrators of this and other ongoing abortion-related
- NOW demands that newly-elected President Bill Clinton and
Congress support a ban on discrimination against lesbians and gay
men in the military.
- A Texas school reverses a decision to ban pregnant girls from
the cheerleading squad after NOW
threatens to file a lawsuit.
||U.S. Supreme Court in NOW
v. Scheidler unanimously upholds NOW's
right to use the anti-racketeering
law against those coordinating violence against clinics.
- NOW delegates at ERA Summit adopt outline of an expanded
amendment calling for full Constitutional Equality.
- NOW brings over 250,000 people to D.C. to rally against
Violence Against Women, pressuring
the Newt Gingrich lead Congress to
release VAWA funding.
- NOW's Women Friendly Workplace campaign names Mitsubishi Motors, where race and sex
discrimination and harassment were rampant, its first NOW Merchant
- NOW launches "Hungry for Justice," a 17-day hunger strike in
front of the White House to pressure President Bill Clinton to veto the punitive welfare
"reform" bill that had just passed Congress and would increase U.S.
poverty among women and children.
- NOW "comes out" in favor of same-sex marriage rights.
- NOW "comes out" opposed to fathers'
- NOW pressures Congress to pass the Domestic Violence Option, allowing
states to grant women escaping violence exemptions from punitive
new welfare reform provisions.
- NOW National Conference resolution supports recognition of
transgender oppression and calls for
education on the rights of transgender people.
- After 12 years of litigation, NOW wins a unanimous jury verdict
against Joseph Scheidler, Operation
Rescue and others under RICO (anti-racketeering law); a nationwide
injunction against abortion-related violence follows.
- NOW campaigns for legislation to put teeth into the Equal Pay
Act, allowing compensatory and punitive damages and making it
easier to bring class action lawsuits.
- After years of lobbying, NOW allies in Congress add sex, sexual
orientation and disability to federal hate crimes legislation.
- NOW holds its first Women of Color and Allies Summit, during
which activists support equal wages for women janitors in the U.S.
- NOW and NOW Foundation host the 3rd Lesbian Rights Summit.
- NOW forms Family Law committee, recognizing the impact of
family courts on women's lives; NOW challenges agenda of spreading
"father's rights" movement.
- Fortune 500 Project launched as part of NOW's Women-Friendly
- NOW conference endorses multiple strategies aimed at achieving
ratification of a constitutional equal rights amendment.
- In October, NOW organizes the U.S. event of the World March of
Women; the same weekend NOW Foundation hosts the Women's
International Symposium on Health (WISH)
- NOW activists across the country campaign against the election
of George W. Bush as president. NOW PAC supports the
election of feminists across the country, increasing feminists'
representation in the Congress.
- NOW declares a state of emergency and organizes the "Emergency
Action for Women's Lives" in D.C. to call attention to the Bush
Administration's anti-abortion agenda, including one of his first
acts as president: reinstating the Mexico City policy which cut off funding
provided by taxpayers to international family planning
organizations advocating the legality of or performing
- Following the September 11
attacks, NOW joins labor and civil rights advocacy
organizations and speaks out for low-wage workers and calls for a
real "economic stimulus" package, including extending unemployment
and health insurance for laid off workers. NOW calls for lifting
the time limit on benefits for welfare recipients in light of the
massive layoffs in the service sector.
- NOW immediately begins opposing Bush's judicial nominees who
oppose the organization.
- NOW releases report "Our Courts at Risk" and is one of the
first groups to press for a filibuster strategy to prevent Roe v.
Wade from being overturned.
- Bush administration sets forth "marriage initiatives" affecting
women on welfare, and NOW campaigns for their defeat with op-eds,
letters to the editor, and grassroots lobbying.
- NOW Launches "The Truth About George" campaign and website, a
public information campaign designed to keep the public eye trained
on what it sees as the Bush administration's track record on
women's rights, civil liberties, judicial nominees, the
environment, the economy and protections for the elderly and the
|2002 - 2006
Women Friendly Workplace Campaign names Wal-Mart a Merchant of Shame because of alleged sex
discrimination policies in hiring, pay and promotions. NOW
chapters picket local stores for four years.
Amendment is introduced in Congress; NOW lobbies against the
FMA and continues campaigning for legal recognition of same-sex
- NOW launches campaign to pressure the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) to sell emergency
contraception over the counter, and to restrict the
availability of dangerous silicone gel breast implants.
- NOW is a lead organizer and speaker for the 40th anniversary of
the 1963 MLK March on Washington.
- NOW Foundation hosts Women with Disabilities and Allies Summit
to draw attention and educate activists on disability rights and
- NOW organizes campaign to expose threats posed to women by the
Bush administration's proposed privatization of Social
- NOW is a lead organizer of the massive March for Women's Lives
in Washington, DC. With 1.15 million marchers, it was the largest
civil rights march in US history.
- NOW launches its formal Equal Marriage Campaign and committee,
and hosts the Equal Marriage coalition meetings at the NOW Action
Center. Information Kits are delivered to every member of Congress
and chapters receive brochures and organizing materials.
- NOW Foundation undertakes campaigns to register voters,
particularly women voters, achieving over 7 million voter
- NOW protests Justice Department's "medical guidelines" for
treating rape survivors - it fails to mention emergency
contraception, a standard precaution against pregnancy after
- Second NOW Women of Color and Allies Summit draws hundreds of
women to draft an action plan to empower and energize women of
- NOW declares a State of Emergency upon the resignation of
Sandra Day O'Connor, holding a rally and demonstration the
following day to demand that O'Connor's replacement be supportive
of women's rights and civil rights.
- NOW establishes an advisory committee on Mothers and Caregivers
- "Enraged and Engaged" NOW campaign brings activists from across
the country to fight the nomination of Samuel Alito to replace O'Connor on the Supreme
- NOW is a lead organizer of the huge anti-war march in NYC, the
March for Peace, Justice and Democracy in April, as part of NOW's
ongoing "Peace is a Feminist Issue" opposition to war in the Middle
- NOW opposes immigration reform measures and participates in
national immigrants' rights marches in New York and Washington,
- In February, the Supreme Court rejects NOW's racketeering lawsuit against Joseph Scheidler, Operation Rescue and others, and directs
the lower court to invalidate the nationwide injunction that has
protected clinics across the country for 7 years.
celebrates "Forty Fearless Years" at the national conference in
York, which includes a Young Feminist Summit and a
tribute to NOW's founders and past presidents.
- Wood, T,J. "Gendered Lives: communication, gender, and
culture", page 69-70. Wadsworth Group, 2005.
- Wood, T,J. "Gendered Lives: communication, gender, and
culture", page 84. Wadsworth Group, 2005.
- Statement of Purpose
- National Council of Women's Organizations
- History of
- 1996 Conference Resolutions