The National Organization for Women is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW has 500,000 contributing members and 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since its founding in 1966 by Betty Friedan the author of "The Feminine Mystique", 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 often unorthodox, uncompromising and ahead of their time.
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. They 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 were a technique that went out with the 1960s. A march in support of the Equal Rights Amendment drew more than 100,000 people to Washington, D.C. in 1978. NOW's March for Women's Lives drew 750,000 supporters to Washington, D.C. in 1992, for the largest abortion 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.
These ongoing efforts established NOW 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's 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 LGBTQIA+, and ending violence against women.