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50 Years of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

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50 Years of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Happy Birthday to the National Organization for Women (NOW) celebrating 50 years of NOW’s s history of cutting-edge activism on behalf of women, which include some of the most significant victories of the 20th century, but also the important work ahead as the organization pushes forward with its cutting-edge, intersectional and multi-agenda advocacy for the 21st century.

NOW was founded in 1966 by 28 women at the Third National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women in June, 1966 (the successor to the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women); Among NOW’s 28 founders was its first president, Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique (1963). It was not until October 29, 1966 during their NOW Organizing Conference that they wrote and adopted their original Statement of Purpose.

Another founder was the late Rev. Pauli Murray, the first African-American woman Episcopal priest. Murray co-authored NOW’s original Statement of Purpose which begins with the following: “The purpose of NOW is to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.”

The Sonoma County NOW affiliate was formed in 1966 and continues to this day. 

The six core issues of NOW are: 

Reproductive Rights and Justice 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. 

Economic Justice NOW advocates for wide range of economic justice issues affecting women including a living wage, job discrimination, pay equity, social security and pension reform & more. 

Ending Violence Against Women NOW is unique in its approach to the issue of violence against women, emphasizing the interrelated factors and complexity of the issue. 

Racial Justice A leader in civil rights since 1966, NOW continues to fight for equal opportunities for women of color in all areas including employment, education & health care

LGBTQ Rights NOW is committed to fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in all areas, including employment, housing, health services, and child custody. 

Constitutional Equality in pay, job opportunities, political structure, social security and education will remain elusive without a guarantee of equality in the U.S. Constitution. 

Today NOW is the largest feminist organization in the nation, with more than 500,000 contributing members. NOW has more than 500 local and campus affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. These affiliates include chapters and Campus Action Networks,. which includes a chapter in Sonoma County.

On October 22, 2016 the Sonoma County NOW Chapter will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary with a buffet at the Finley Center in Santa Rosa. Included in the celebration will be a fifteen minute film on the life of Inez Milholland Boissevain (August 6, 1886 – November 25, 1916) a suffragist, labor lawyer, World War I correspondent, and public speaker who greatly influenced the women’s movement in America. She was active in the National Woman’s Party and a key participant in the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913. All are welcome and a donation of $20.00 is requested.

The regular NOW meeting takes place 2nd Wednesday of the month at the Round Table Pizza Restaurant on Guerneville Road, Santa Rosa. For more info call (707) 573-9373

PHOTO ABOVE: 21 Aug 1971, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA --- NEW YORK: WOMEN'S LIBERATION PARADE ON 5TH AVENUE, 8/26/71. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS