National Organization for Women


Reasons for the Movement

The founders of NOW created the group after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision failed to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, obviously in hope of achieving gender equality.

Successes of the Movement

Employment Opportunity Commission would not enforce the law's protection of women workers, and so a group of feminists including Betty Friedan decided to found an organization that would fight gender discrimination through the courts and legislatures. In the summer of 1966, they launched the National Organization for Women (NOW), which went on to lobby Congress for pro-equality laws and assist women seeking legal aid as they battled workplace discrimination in the courts. The success of the feminist movement was driven by a favorable confluence of economic and societal changes. After World War II, the boom of the American economy outpaced the available workforce, making it necessary for women to fill new job openings.As such, the nation simply had to accept the idea of women in the workforce. Meanwhile, as expectations for a comfortable middle-class lifestyle rose, having two incomes became critical to achieving this lifestyle, making women's participation in the workforce still more acceptable. A wave of young women began applying to medical, law, and business schools in the early 1970s. At the same time, the Pill made the "sexual revolution" possible, helping to break down the double standard that allowed premarital sex for men but prohibited it for women.By the end of the 1970s, activists burned out, and the women's movement fragmented — but the services they founded, such as rape crisis centers, women's shelters, and health clinics, were integrated into the mainstream as cities, universities, and religious organizations provided program funding.


"Taking Action for Women's Equality Since 1966"

Organizations Involved

League of Women Voters, the YWCA, the United Auto Workers, the National Education Association, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Democratic National Committee.

Three Specific Events

1966- NOW begins to petition the EEOC and pressing for gender equality to be enforced by the commissioner. Thirty five members file a formal petition against the EEOC.

1968- NOW begins to boycott all Colgate-Palmoil products and protests in front of the company's New York headquarters because they were keeping women out of top paying jobs due to a restriction on carrying certain amounts of weight. This goes on for five days.

1969- NOW’s attorney, Sylvia Roberts, argues the case Weeks v Southern Bell. This is the first gender discrimination case appealed under Title VII and one.

Betty Friedan and the National Organization for Women | Radcliffe Institute

Status of the movement today

NOW has been supporting the Freedom of Choice act, which safeguards women’s right to abortion. As a whole, women continue to fight for full gender equality, the most relevant being equal pay.
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