National Organization for Women
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (November 2012)|
|Founder(s)||28 men and women, including Betty Friedan, Pauli Murray, and Shirley Chisholm|
|Headquarters||Washington, District of Columbia|
|Key people||Terry O'Neill, President; Bonnie Grabenhoffer, Executive Vice-President; Allendra Letsome, Membership Vice-President; Erin Matson, Action Vice-President|
|Focus||Women's rights, feminism, racism/anti-racism, homophobia and LGBT rights, reproductive rights|
|Motto||"Taking Action for Women's Equality Since 1966"|
The National Organization for Women (NOW) is an organization founded in 1966. It has a membership of 550,000 contributing members set up for the advancement of women. The organization consists of 550 chapters in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
NOW was founded on June 30, 1966, in Washington, D.C., by 28 women and men attending the Third National Conference of State Commissions 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), who was also NOW's first president), 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. Betty Friedan and Pauli Murray wrote NOW's Statement of Purpose in 1966; the original was scribbled on a napkin by Friedan.
In 1968 NOW issued a Bill of Rights which they had adopted at their 1967 national conference, which advocated the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, enforcement of the prohibitions against sex discrimination in employment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, maternity leave rights in employment and in Social Security benefits, tax deduction for home and child care expenses for working parents, child day care centers, equal and non-gender-segregated education, equal job training opportunities and allowances for women in poverty, and the right of women to control their reproductive lives.
Also in 1969, Ivy Bottini held a public forum titled "Is Lesbianism a Feminist Issue?", which was the first time lesbian concerns were introduced into NOW. In 1971 NOW expanded its agenda to include lesbian rights.
During the 1970s feminist leaders 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, crushed the progress of the legislation. By 1973, of the needed 38 states, 35 had ratified the amendment, but no remaining state would ratify the ERA.
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 "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."
NOW's Top Six Priority Issues 
The six core issues that NOW addresses are abortion rights/reproductive issues, violence against women, constitutional equality, promoting diversity/ending racism, lesbian rights, and economic justice.
Additional Issues 
NOW also works on the issues of affirmative action, disability rights, family law, global feminism, health and body image, immigration, judicial nominations, same-sex marriage, media activism, mothers/caregivers economic rights, Title IX/education, welfare, promoting women-friendly workplaces, women in the military, young feminist programs and more.
Justice for immigrant women: NOW supports "real 'immigration reform' legislation that provides a path to citizenship, promotes the reunification of families, includes protections against exploitation in the workplace, and doesn't include fences, walls or border prisons." The organization opposes Arizona's effort to discourage illegal immigration through SB 1070, and claims that "Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arapaio has been terrorizing [undocumented immigrants] by profiling, arresting and deporting the undocumented." NOW calls SB 1070 "cruel and unconstitutional" and officially supports the lawsuit filed against Arizona by the ACLU.
Global issues: According to NOW's bylaws, NOW's primary focus is on domestic American 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.
The organization endorsed Obama-Biden during the 2008 election, stating that although it is rare for NOW to endorse a major-party presidential candidate, Barack Obama is an "unprecedented candidate" that is committed to achieving equality for women. A press statement from Kim Gandy, Chair, National Organization for Women Political Action Committee (NOW PAC), claimed "For more than a decade, Barack Obama has said "yes" to women's rights, while John McCain has consistently said "no" - NO to pay equity, NO to contraceptive access and reproductive rights, NO to appointing Supreme Court judges who will uphold women's rights and civil rights, NO to funding shelters and other anti-violence programs, and NO to supporting working moms and dads with policies that support work/life balance."
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 in 2009.
The following women have led the National Organization for Women;
- Betty Friedan (1966–1970)
- Aileen Hernandez (1970–1971)
- Wilma Scott Heide (1971–1974)
- Karen DeCrow (1974–1977)
- Eleanor Smeal (1977–1982)
- Judy Goldsmith (1982–1985)
- Eleanor Smeal (1985–1987)
- Molly Yard (1987–1991)
- Patricia Ireland (1991–2001)
- Kim Gandy (2001–2009)
- Terry O'Neill (2009– )
Alumnae and alumni 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (November 2011)|
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, Warren Farrell, 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 
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 environmental 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 Berry.
ERA and CEA 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2012)|
Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex," remains a priority for the organization, as stated in their platform. During their 1995 conference, NOW also wrote and adopted their own constitutional amendment that 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;
- Men and women 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;
- 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.
- 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 judicial review;
- The United States and the several states shall guarantee the implementation and enforcement of this article.
See also 
- List of Presidents of the National Organization for Women
- List of Woman of Courage Award Winners
- National Organization for Women (NOW) officers
- NOW - Who We Are
- "Information about NOW." National Organization for Women. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
- Murray, Pauli (1987). Pauli Murray: The Autobiography of a Black Activist.
- Statement of Purpose
- Wood, Julia T. (2005). Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender and Culture (6th ed.). Belmont, California: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning. pp. 69–70. ISBN 0-534-63615-2.
- Wood, Julia T. (2005). Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender and Culture (6th ed.). Belmont, California: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning. p. 84. ISBN 0-534-63615-2.
- Statement of Purpose
- "About NOW". National Organization for Women. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
- "Key Issues". National Organization for Women. Retrieved 2009-09-10.
- "NOW Key Issues". National Organization for Women. Retrieved 2011-08-26.
- "NOW and Justice for Immigrant Women". National Organization for Women. Retrieved 2011-08-26.
- "NOW Supports Protests Against Arizona Immigration Law; Measure Will "Push Already Vulnerable Families Past The Breaking Point"". National Organization for Women. May 28, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
- "National Council of Women's Organizations". National Council of Women's Organizations. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
- Gandy, Kim. "National Organization for Women PAC Endorses Obama-Biden." National Organization for Women. N.p., 16 09 2008. Web. 1 Jul 2012. <http://www.now.org/press/09-08/09-16.html>
- "Conference information". National Organization for Women. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
- "Find a NOW Chapter Near You". National Organization for Women. Retrieved 2010-10-31. local chapters]
- "NOW Officers". National Organization for Women. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
- National Organization for Women, Official website
- Records, 1959-2002 (inclusive), 1966-1998 (bulk). Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.
- Additional Records of the National Organization for Women, 1970-2011. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.