The National Organization for Women is the largest organization of feminist grassroots activists in the United States. NOW has hundreds of chapters and hundreds of thousands of members and activists in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since our founding in 1966, NOW’s purpose is to take action through intersectional grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.
NOW activists use both traditional and nontraditional 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 an intersectional, 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 justice along with other women’s health issues; opposing racism; fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in all areas, including employment, housing, health services, and child custody; and ending violence against all women, no matter race, age, or socio-economic class.