By Evan Stahr, Communications Intern
…because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.
These are the final words of the Declaration of Sentiments, adopted by the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Sixty-eight women signed this pledge, along with 32 men. The Convention had been convened as the first large-scale gathering explicitly devoted to women’s rights. The Seneca Falls Convention and its Declaration inspired suffragists in the later parts of the century. To this day, we remember the blood they spilled, the prison sentences they endured, and the victories they achieved.
Over a century later, the National Organization for Women held its initial Conference in 1966. Luminaries like Betty Friedan and Pauli Murray were in attendance and proved vital in the early history of NOW. The 30 men and women in attendance took a similar pledge to the one above – the 1966 Statement of Purpose. They made their position plain and vowed action for the rights of women:
WE BELIEVE THAT women will do most to create a new image of women by acting now, and by speaking out in behalf of their own equality, freedom, and human dignity… By so doing, women will develop confidence in their own ability to determine actively, in partnership with men, the conditions of their life, their choices, their future and their society.
Nearly fifty years after NOW’s first Statement of Purpose, we are asking you to once again take a pledge. 2014 will be an important year – a number of cases are making their way to the Supreme Court, the abortion battle is being fought once more in the states, and Congress is up for grabs. We need your support in the coming year.
NOW wants you to pledge to speak out in your communities and in the world for reproductive justice. We need to put action behind our words and reclaim the label “pro-life” from those who don’t care about the lives of women – as Wendy Davis did in November. With your help, we can show Congress and the people of our country that a radical anti-choice agenda will not be tolerated.
Your signature and your action will reaffirm the commitments made in 1848 and 1966, and ensure that the same rights our forebears fought for will remain in 2014. Sign the pledge today.