The National Organization for Women (NOW) was co founded by the feminist author Betty Friedan to place pressure on the EEOC to carry out its legal mandate to end sex discrimination in employment. Today, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has a membership of 550,000 covering all US states whose members continue to raise issues and work for the advancement of women.
Facts about National Organization for Women
Second Wave Feminism emerged in the 1960's encompassing a wide variety of ideologies and movements concerned with the interests of women, their status, opportunities and social progress.
In 1963 'The Feminine Mystique' by Betty Friedan was published and spoke of the utter boredom and lack of fulfillment of the American suburban housewives who were "deadened by domesticity" but too socially conditioned to recognize their own desperation.
In June 1966 Betty Friedan attended the Third National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women in Washington D.C. Many of the delegates wanted to pass a resolution demanding that the EEOC carried out its legal mandate to end sex discrimination in the workplace.
The delegates were told that they did not have the authority to even pass a resolution. That evening Betty Friedan held a meeting with angry and frustrated delegates in her hotel room to discuss alternative strategies.
Betty Friedan had scribbled on her napkin the acronym NOW which stood for National Organization for Women. The women at the hotel meeting included Catherine Conroy, Rosalind Loring, Mary Eastwood, Dorothy Haener, Inka O’Hanrahan, Pauli Murray, and Kay Clarenbach.
The women made the decision to found a new civil rights organization, NOW, and began planning the formation of the new organization during the final conference luncheon.
One of the early co-founders was Analoyce Clapp, who later wrote of its purpose, "...To take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, assuming all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men."
By October 1966, nearly 300 women and men had become charter members of NOW. The organizing conference was attended by 30 members between October 29-30, 1966 in Washington, D.C.
Betty Friedan was elected president and Kay Clarenbach was Chair of the Board, Caroline Davis was Secretary/Treasurer, Aileen Hernandez was Executive Vice President and Richard Graham was elected as Vice President
National Organization for Women adopted the NOW Statement of Purpose dedicated to achieving equality of opportunity for women.
The first National Organization for Women (NOW) conference approved immediate action on Title VII enforcement efforts on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibited discrimination by private employers based on sex.
NOW went on to form a range of task forces on many other issues and actively challenged sex discrimination in all areas of American society and demanding better educational opportunities for females.
NOW initially focused on employment by aiding women in the workplace, denouncing the exclusion of women from many jobs and professions and demanding an equal voice in politics.
Members of NOW, that included both men and women, mounted protest against the failure of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to eliminate the practice of paying women less than men for equal work and began a hard push for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
The efforts of NOW in relation to the Equal Rights Amendment, led by women such as Gloria Steinem, increased the organization's members to over 200,000.
On March 22, 1972, the Senate passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, which proposed banning discrimination based on sex. The Equal Rights Amendment was sent to the states for ratification, but fell short of the three-fourths approval needed.
The issues tackled by NOW include topic such as pregnancy leave, gay lesbian rights, pension rights, legalized abortion, child-care centers for working mothers, greater representation of women in government and other reforms
Today, NOW has a membership of 550,000 covering all US states whose members continue to raise issues and work for the advancement of women.
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