National Organization for Women

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National Organization for Women (NOW)
Logo and name.gif
Website http://www.now.org
Founded June 30, 1966, by Aileen Hernandez & Richard Graham
Headquarters , Washington, D.C.
United States


The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW has 500,000 contributing members and 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Since its founding in 1966, NOW's goal has been to take action to bring about equality for all women. NOW works to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society.

History & Founding

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 came to Congress, and feminists lobbied hard for the addition of an amendment prohibiting sex discrimination in employment. After much debate, the Act was passed with just such a prohibition in Title VII, added by a congressman who hoped to defeat the Act by including sex. But Title VII was still a shallow protection for women in the workforce.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was formed in 1965 to enforce the Civil Rights Act. Though future NOW founders Aileen Hernandez and Richard Graham fought hard as EEO commissioners to enforce Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination, they were ultimately outnumbered 3-2, and the EEOC decided in September of 1965 that sex segregation in job advertising was permissible.

A month later, at a conference on Title VII and the EEOC, Dr. Pauli Murray, a law professor at Yale University and a member of the President's Commission on the Status of Women, denounced the EEOC and its stance permitting Help Wanted Male and Help Wanted Female segregated job advertising. Betty Friedan, author of the eye-opening book The Feminine Mystique, immediately contacted Dr. Murray—one of many historic linkups that led to a reemergence of the feminist movement in the U.S.

The National Organization for Women's Top Priorites

NOW lists it's top priorities as follows:

  • Advancing Reproductive Freedom: NOW affirms that reproductive rights are issues of life and death for women, not mere matters of choice.
  • Stopping Violence Against Women: NOW is unique in its approach to the issue of violence against women, emphasizing that there are many interrelated aspects to the issue.
  • Winning Lesbian Rights: NOW is committed to fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in all areas.
  • Achieving Constitutional Equality: Equality in pay, job opportunities, political structure, social security and education will remain an elusive dream without a guarantee of equality in the U.S. Constitution.
  • Ensuring Economic Justice: NOW advocates for wide range of economic justice issues affecting women, from the glass ceiling to the sticky floor of poverty.
  • Promoting Diversity & Ending Racism: NOW condemns the racism that inflicts a double burden of race and sex discrimination on women of color. Seeing human rights as indivisible, and are committed to identifying and fighting against those barriers to equality and justice that are imposed by racism.

Organizational structure

NOW Officers

  • Terry O'Neill, President
  • Bonnie Grabenhofer, Executive Vice President
  • Allendra Letsome, Membership Vice President
  • Erin Matson, Action Vice President

Achievements

  • Women win the right to vote in 1920.
  • The birth control pill is approved in 1960.
  • The Equal Pay Act is passed in 1963.
  • The Civil Rights Act passes in 1964, outlawing sex discrimination in employment.
  • In 1967 NOW leads a successful fight to extend Affirmative Action in federal contracts to women.
  • In 1972 Shirley Chisholm, first African-American woman to run for president, is endorsed by NOW.
  • Women win Title IX in 1972, prohibiting sex discrimination in education and school athletics.
  • In 1973 Roe v. Wade establishes a woman's legal right to abortion.
  • In 1978 feminists win a ban on employment discrimination against pregnant women.
  • Sexual harassment is ruled an illegal form of job discrimination in 1986.
  • NOW wins money damages and jury trials for sex discrimination in Civil Rights Act of 1991.
  • Family and Medical Leave passes in 1993.
  • The Violence Against Women Act is signed in 1994 and mass action by NOW ensures funding.
  • NOW organizes to bring 1.15 million marchers to DC in 2004 for women's health, reproductive rights.
  • Public support for same-sex marriage has grown due to education and activism by groups like NOW.

Public perception and controversies

Recently NOW has reacted to allegations made against late-night television host David Letterman and stated that the issue is an example of the workplace discrimination and harassment women are still subject to. Terry O'Neill stated that Letterman "is responsible for setting the tone for his entire workplace - and he did that with sex" which placed all employees including female employees "in an awkward, confusing and demoralizing situation"[1].

NOW Vice President Erin Matson recently condemned fashion house Ralph Lauren for firing model Filippa Hamilton for being too fat. Matson stated that apologies are owed to Hamilton, and the attitude shown by Ralph Lauren is "disgusting" and "harmful".[2]

References

  1. http://www.now.org/press/10-09/10-06.html
  2. http://mygloss.com/buzz/2009/10/16/national-organization-of-women-demands-ralph-lauren-apologizes-fired-model/