National Organization for Women

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National Organization for Women

The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States, numbering more than 500,000 members. A nonpartisan organization, it has more than 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It receives its funding from membership dues and private donations. NOW has used both traditional and nontraditional means to push for social change. Traditional activities have included extensive electoral and Lobbying work, and the filing of lawsuits. NOW also has organized mass marches, rallies, pickets, counter-demonstrations, and nonviolent civil disobedience. Its headquarters are located in Washington, D.C.

NOW was established in 1966 in Washington, D.C., by people attending the Third National Conference of the Commission on the Status of Women. Among the 28 NOW founders was its first president, betty friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique (1963). In its original statement of purpose, NOW declared 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."

As part of its efforts to pursue economic equality and other rights for women, NOW launched a nationwide campaign in the 1970s to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution. Though the ERA ultimately failed to be ratified, NOW efforts helped the organization. NOW became a huge network of more than 200,000 activists and began operating with multimillion-dollar annual budgets. Leaders organized political action committees, NOW/PAC and NOW Equality PAC, that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for pro-ERA candidates.

NOW priorities are promoting economic equality, including an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that will guarantee equal rights for women; championing Abortion rights, reproductive freedom, and other women's health issues; opposing racism and opposing bigotry against lesbians and gays; and ending violence against women. The organization has proved effective in many of these areas. NOW points to sweeping changes that put more women in political posts; increased educational, employment, and business opportunities for women; and the enactment of tougher laws against violence, Sexual Harassment, and discrimination.

Its 1992 "Elect Women for a Change" campaign sent an unprecedented number of feminist women and men to the U.S. Congress. NOW has combated harassment and violence by organizing the first "Take Back the Night" marches and establishing hot lines and shelters for battered women. NOW has also successfully prosecuted lawsuits against antiabortion groups that bombed and blocked clinics and laws that deprived lesbian women of custody of their children. NOW has also consistently sought economic equality for women in the workplace, exposing both the "glass ceiling" that professional women face in advancing in the workplace and the difficult circumstances that poor women face in the United States.

Further readings

Friedan, Betty. 1963. The Feminine Mystique. New York: Dell.

Haney, Eleanor Humes. 1985. A Feminist Legacy: The Ethics of Wilma Scott Heide and Company. Buffalo: Margaret-daughters.

National Organization for Women. Available online at <> (accessed July 29, 2003).


Equal Rights; " National Organization for Women Statement of Purpose" (Appendix, Primary Document); Women's Rights.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Submitted by The Health and Reproductive Rights Hearing of The National Organization for Women National Conference, Beverly Hills, CA, July 3, 1999, Chair: Sheila Moore; Submitted by: Linda McCabe, Sonoma County NOW (with assistance from Suzette Henderson, Ohio-Now, and Cordelia Hanna and Mary Ceallaigh, Midwifery Childbirth Awareness Project of California Association of Midwives).
One example is the National Organization for Women. In addition, outside the middle-class women's movement a great deal of women's activism has been taking place and some of it has been feminist in nature.
It is significant that one of the very first national organizations in this country to come out for the impeachment of Reagan during the Iran-Contra scandal, and for the defeat of his nomination of Bork to the Supreme Court, was the National Organization for Women.
* Betty Friedan -- Friedan, a Peoria native, helped spark a new wave of feminism with her 1963 book, "The Feminine Mystique." She also helped found the National Organization for Women.
Recognized for her participation in a variety of causes, Medaglia has been honored by the National Organization for Women (NOW), Americans of Italian Heritage and the Trey Whitfield Foundation within the past two years.
A sampling of entry topics includes The Carol Burnett Show, food trends, medicine, Harvey Milk, National Organization for Women, polyester, Salt I and Salt II treaties, and Watergate.
Groups involved with the rally included the Workman's Circle Shule, a Jewish Sunday school in Brookline, Mass AFL CIO, Mass Jobs with Justice, Mass National Organization for Women, UNITE, and the Jewish Labor Committee.
And his conclusions can be distilled to such hoary precepts--e.g., girls who are too smart or too ambitious will have trouble landing a husband--that one feels like making a beeline for the nearest chapter of the National Organization for Women. With friends like these, human nature needs no enemies.
Public Citizen joined the National Organization for Women in issuing a NOW-sponsored report calling for increased research to address the long-term safety concerns related to the implants.
Sally Satel, author of PC, M.D., has argued in the IWF journal that "the battered women's movement has outlived its useful beginnings," while columnist Betsy Hart predicted that the domestic violence law would "perpetuate false information, waste money and urge vulnerable women to mistrust all men." Says Kim Gandy, the president of the National Organization for Women: "I'm appalled, but I am not shocked."
The National Organization for Women and abortion clinics in Wilmington, Del., and Milwaukee had sued antiabortion groups under the racketeering law to defend themselves against what they described as violent tactics.
"There's a pattern here to establish fetal personhood," complained Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. Pro-abortionists angrily maintained that the proposed change would set "precedents."

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