Women’s Rights in 1966

Photo courtesy of New York Daily News

In all fifty states of the United States of America in the 1960s, a woman could not get a credit card, could not serve on a jury, and could not buy a birth control pill. In 1966, the National Organization for Women was founded to change that.

The creation of the National Organization for Women (NOW) was based on a report commissioned by President John Kennedy and chaired by former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt:

The Statement of Purpose for NOW was presented as, “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.”

Betty Friedan was an American writer who was a leading activist of the women’s movement based on her 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique. She was the founding president of NOW and led the organization until 1969. Students are still studying her impact on our society. Here is a young student’s video project about Friedan:

Friedan remained active in politics and advocacy for the rest of her life, authoring six books. She died at her home in Washington, D.C., on February 4, 2006, her 85th birthday.

The NOW organization currently consists of 550 chapters in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Their 50th anniversary will be celebrated at the annual NOW convention to be held in June in Washington DC.


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