June 30 is NOW (National Organization for Women) Day. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination in the workplace because of sex, but little was being done to enforce the law. So several women came together in 1966 to promote women’s rights, and founded NOW. There original key points were:
- women’s rights as “truly equal partnership with men,” “fully equal partnership of the sexes”
- focused on activism: “confront, with concrete action, the conditions that now prevent women from enjoying the equality of opportunity and freedom of choice which is their right as individual Americans, as human beings”
- women’s rights seen in the context of “the world-wide revolution of human rights”; equality of women as an opportunity to “develop their fullest human potentials”
- purpose to put women in the “mainstream of American political, economic and social life”
- NOW’s commitment “equality, freedom, and dignity for women” specifically defined as not being about “special privilege” for women or “enmity towards men”
NOW has often been criticized during the years, particularly by conservatives who do not appreciate their stand on gender issues or women’s reproductive issues. They have also been condemned for being too narrowly focused, such as this year when they endorsed Hillary Clinton for Democratic nominee because she was a woman, when many members felt Bernie Sanders spoke more clearly to the broader issues of rights.
This year is their 50th anniversary. NOW is no longer the powerhouse they were in the 1970s and 1980s when they were campaigning to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, but they still serve a useful purpose. Even 50 years after their founding, women still make less than men on the job for the same positions, and women of color even less than their white counterparts. With the overwhelming numbers of men in Congress, women need a strong voice to bring their issues to people with the power to make laws and change society. So I celebrate them today for their successes and hope in another fifty years they will no longer be necessary, because inequality on the basis of gender will be a thing of the past.
Quotes about equal rights
We all fight over what the label ‘feminism’ means but for me it’s about empowerment. It’s not about being more powerful than men – it’s about having equal rights with protection, support, justice. It’s about very basic things. It’s not a badge like a fashion item.–Annie Lennox
I believe in, and will to the best of my ability fight for, equal rights and freedom of opinion for everyone, regardless of colour, religion, nationality, orientation – you know the rest.–Binyavanga Wainaina
I’m not a political person, but I’m a person with compassion. I care passionately about equal rights.–Ellen DeGeneres
We have talked long enough in this country about equal rights. It is time now to write the next chapter – and to write it in the books of law.–Lyndon B. Johnson
To me, feminism is such a simple description: it’s equal rights, economic rights, political rights, and social rights.–Callie Khouri
I believe the equal rights amendment is a necessity of life for all citizens. The cabinet sometimes felt that I shouldn’t be so outspoken.–Betty Ford
I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute.–Rebecca West
Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.–Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler
It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union…. Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less.–Susan B. Anthony
The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes.–Bella Abzug
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