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The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest feminist organization in the United Statesmarker. 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 Columbiamarker.


NOW was founded on June 30 1966 in Washington, D.C.marker, 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 discrimination.

The founders included Betty Friedan, the author of The Feminine Mystique (1963), Rev. Pauli Murray, the first African-American female Episcopal priest, and Shirley Chisholm, 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 to the U.S. Constitution. 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 Phyllis Schlafly stymied progress 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

Betty Friedan 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, sexism and homophobia 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".

Current issues

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.

Global issues

According to NOW's bylaws, NOW's focus is on domestic Americanmarker issues; however, NOW does some work on other issues of importance to women and children globally. These issues 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, the currently serving national president, was elected President in 2009.


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; Mary Daly; Caroline Davis; Karen DeCrow; Rosemary Dempsey; Betty Friedan; Sonia Pressman Fuentes; Kim Gandy; Judy Goldsmith; Wilma Scott Heide; Aileen Hernandez; Shere Hite; Phineas Indritz; Patricia Ireland; Florynce "Flo" Kennedy; Phyllis Lyon; Del Martin; Kate Millett; Virginia "Ginny" Montes; Pauli Murray; Irma Newmark; Sylvia Roberts; Barbara Seaman; Eleanor Smeal; Jean Witter; and Molly Yard. Some were Presidents; 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 contributors.

Third-party explorations

In Cincinnati, Ohiomarker, 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 party.

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 to include freedom from sexual discrimination, 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 Commission for Responsive Democracy, which included Smeal, John Anderson, Toney Anaya, Barry Commoner and Dee Barry.


Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment 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 platform.

The Constitutional Equality Amendment, which has not been introduced into any session of Congress, reads;

  1. 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 abolished;
  2. 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;
  3. This article prohibits pregnancy discrimination and guarantees the absolute right of a woman to make her own reproductive decisions including the termination of pregnancy;
  4. 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.
  5. 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;
  6. This article shall be interpreted under the highest standard of judicial review;
  7. 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. Pro-life groups, in addition to opposing NOW's position on abortion, accuse NOW of trying to censor opposing viewpoints with their lawsuit of Operation Rescue under the RICO Statute. 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 Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey and rape charged by Juanita Broaddrick) against former Democratic President Bill Clinton while calling for the resignation of Republican politician (Bob Packwood) who was accused of similar offenses.

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 Tammy Bruce 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 Housemarker for their conservative positions. Such a 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 Republican feminist Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick's Democratic opponent in a New Jerseymarker Senate race due to her support of Ronald Reagan's economic agenda.

Historical timeline


Year NOW Timeline
1966 (June)
  • 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" ads.
  • 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 advertising.
  • 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 U.S. Court of 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 Rights Act.
  • 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."
  • NOW chapters work to establish women's studies courses, beginning at universities in Californiamarker and Michiganmarker, and at Princeton Universitymarker.
  • 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 IX.
  • 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 feminism."
  • 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 Lesbianism.
  • 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 Massachusetts.
  • NOW passes resolutions calling for the impeachment of Richard Nixon. In September, President Gerald Ford meets with NOW President Karen DeCrow and other women leaders.
  • 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 organizations.
  • 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 provide.
  • 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 ratification.
  • 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 Freedom Day.
  • 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 VII.
  • 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 , D.C.
  • 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 Jimmy Carter.
  • NOW announces opposition to the draft, but states that if there is a draft, NOW supports the inclusion of women on the same basis as men.
  • Sandra Day O'Connor is appointed to the US Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan. NOW President Eleanor Smeal testifies in favor of her appointment.
  • 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 thereafter.
  • 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 women.
  • 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, WI.
  • 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 patients.
  • 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 laws.
  • 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 Act.
  • 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, CA.
  • 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 v. Bell 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 law.
  • NOW's 2nd March for Women's Lives brings a record-setting 500,000 to the National Mallmarker to influence the Supreme Court considering a reversal of Roe v. Wade.
  • 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 harassment.
  • 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.
1990 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.
  • Dr. David Gunn, an abortion provider, is murdered in Pensacolamarker. NOW demands that Clinton administration assign a multi-agency task force to identify and prosecute the perpetrators of this and other ongoing abortion-related violence.
  • 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.
1994 U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker 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 of Shame.
  • 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' rights.
  • 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. Capitol.
  • 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 Workplace Campaign
  • 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 abortions.
  • 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 poor.
2002 - 2006 NOW's Women Friendly Workplace Campaign names Wal-Martmarker a Merchant of Shame because of alleged sex discrimination policies in hiring, pay and promotions. NOW chapters picket local stores for four years.
2002 Federal Marriage Amendment is introduced in Congress; NOW lobbies against the FMA and continues campaigning for legal recognition of same-sex couples.
  • NOW endorses Carol Moseley Braun, the second African-American woman to run for U.S. President.

  • 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 accessibility issues.
  • NOW organizes campaign to expose threats posed to women by the Bush administration's proposed privatization of Social Security.
  • 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 contacts.
  • NOW protests Justice Department's "medical guidelines" for treating rape survivors - it fails to mention emergency contraception, a standard precaution against pregnancy after rape.
  • Second NOW Women of Color and Allies Summit draws hundreds of women to draft an action plan to empower and energize women of color.
  • 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 Economic Rights.
  • "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 Court.
  • 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 East.
  • NOW opposes immigration reform measures and participates in national immigrants' rights marches in New York and Washington, DC
  • 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.
  • NOW celebrates "Forty Fearless Years" at the national conference in Albany, New Yorkmarker, which includes a Young Feminist Summit and a tribute to NOW's founders and past presidents.

See also


  1. Wood, T,J. "Gendered Lives: communication, gender, and culture", page 69-70. Wadsworth Group, 2005.
  2. Wood, T,J. "Gendered Lives: communication, gender, and culture", page 84. Wadsworth Group, 2005.
  3. Statement of Purpose
  4. National Council of Women's Organizations
  5. Conference
  6. local chapters
  7. NOW Officers
  10. History of NOW
  11. 1996 Conference Resolutions

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