Speaking at a New York City protest yesterday, National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO) Chair Martha Burk chastised CBS and Augusta National for continuing to uphold the club’s exclusive all-male membership amidst the ongoing war with Iraq. “Broadcasting the Masters now and showcasing a club that discriminates against women is an insult to the nearly quarter million women in the U.S. armed forces,” Burk said, according to the Associated Press. “Women in the military know what it’s like to fight for equal opportunityÉ” she continued, “While I know that more important things are on their minds, as more important things are on the mind of the nation, including us, it is just part of a continuum of discrimination.” Yesterday, several city council members–one wearing CBS tee-shirts with the statement “Continues Broadcasting Segregation”–proposed a resolution “condemn[ing] the gender segregation” and urging the network not to broadcast the tournament. A council vote is expected next month.
NCWO plans to protest at the Masters tournament on April 12. Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal, will join Burk, Business and Professional Women CEO Jane Smith, and other national leaders at the protest. Buses will leave Washington, DC, at 6:30 a.m. on April 11 for an 11 a.m. rally in Augusta, GA.
Augusta National is the site of the Masters, an event sanctioned by the PGA Tour, though the PGA does not own or run the Masters. The NCWO argues that by sanctioning an event held at a club that practices blatant discrimination with a male-only membership policy, the PGA violates its own anti-discrimination policies. Moreover, there is “corporate hypocrisy that surrounds, feeds and creates this event,” said Burk to the New York Times.
The Feminist Majority is a member of NCWO, along with 152 other groups–making its total membership close to seven million.