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NOW - Who We Are

The National Organization for Women is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW has more than 500,000 contributing members and more than 500 local and campus affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since our founding in 1966, NOW's goal has been "to take action" to bring about equality for all women. Both the actions NOW takes and its position on the issues are principled, uncompromising and often ahead of their time. NOW is a leader, not a follower, of public opinion.

NOW activists use both traditional and non-traditional means to push for social change. NOW activists do extensive electoral and lobbying work and bring lawsuits. We also organize mass marches, rallies, pickets, non-violent civil disobedience and immediate, responsive "zap" actions. NOW re-instituted mass marches for women's rights in the face of conventional wisdom that marches went out with the 1960s. A NOW-organized march in support of the Equal Rights Amendment drew more than 100,000 people to Washington, D.C. in 1978. NOW's Marches for Women's Lives drew 500,000 reproductive rights supporters to Washington, D.C. in 1989 and 750,000 in 1992, for the largest women's rights demonstration ever. In 1995, NOW organized the first mass demonstration to focus on the issue of violence against women-and drew a quarter million people to the Mall. The 1996 March to Fight the Right in San Francisco drew more than 50,000 activists to kick off an electoral season focused on efforts to defend affirmative action. In 2004, the March for Women's Lives became the largest mass action of any kind in U.S. history, bringing a record 1.15 million people to Washington, DC to advocate for women's reproductive health options.

NOW's actions have established the organization as a major force in the sweeping changes that put more women in political posts; increased educational, employment and business opportunities for women; and enacted tougher laws against violence, harassment and discrimination.

NOW is a multi-issue, multi-strategy organization that takes a holistic approach to women's rights. Our official priorities are winning economic equality and securing it with 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 fighting bigotry against lesbians and gays; and ending violence against women.

NOW's Priority Issues

Constitutional Equality Amendment: 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. The progress we have made—and must continue to make—towards women's equality can be lost at any time because those advances depend on legislation that can be (and has been) weakened or repealed by Congress. Although we did not succeed in ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, winning a constitutional guarantee of equality for women remains one of NOW's top priorities.

Reproductive Rights: NOW affirms that reproductive rights are issues of life and death for women, not mere matters of choice. NOW fully supports access to safe and legal abortion, to effective birth control and emergency contraception, to reproductive health services and education for all women. We oppose attempts to restrict these rights through legislation, regulation or Constitutional amendment.

Racism: NOW condemns the racism that inflicts a double burden of race and sex discrimination on women of color. Seeing human rights as indivisible, we are committed to identifying and fighting against those barriers to equality and justice that are imposed by racism. A leader in the struggle for civil rights since its inception in 1966, NOW is committed to diversifying our movement, and we continue to fight for equal opportunities for women of color in all areas including employment, education and reproductive rights.

Lesbian Rights: NOW is committed to fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in all areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, health services, child custody and military policies. NOW is committed to educational efforts that combat the adverse effects of homophobia, promote positive images in the media and ultimately ensure civil rights protection for all. NOW asserts the right of lesbians to live their lives with dignity and security, and the rights of equal marriage for all.

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—domestic violence; sexual assault; sexual harassment; violence at abortion clinics; hate crimes across lines of gender, sexuality and race; the gender bias in our judicial system that further victimizes survivors of violence; and the violence of poverty emphasized by the radical right's attacks on poor women and children—all of which result from society's attitudes toward women and efforts to "keep women in their place."

Economic Justice: NOW advocates for wide range of economic justice issues affecting women, from the glass ceiling to the sticky floor of poverty. These include welfare reform, livable wages, job discrimination, pay equity, housing, social security and pension reform, and much more.

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