Press Release: Announcement of the Second National Conference of the National Organization for Women

From: NOW (National Organization for Women)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS CONTACTS: Barbara Ireton, 202-DU 7-3110

Betty Friedan, 212-874-1658

Muriel Fox, 212-YU 8-1124

NOTE: The latter two may be reached Monday, Nov. 20, through the Mayflower Hotel.

WASHINGTON, D. C. November 20 – – The National Organization for Women (NOW) announced today that its second annual National Conference has adopted a Bill of Rights for Women in 1968 to be presented to all political parties and candidates in the coming election year, and that candidates for office would be judged by their assistance to its proposals.

NOW, which was founded in Washington one year ago by men and women pledged to work actively for full equality for women in truly equal partnership with men, re-elected Dr. Kathryn Clarenbach of the University of Wisconsin as chairman of the board and author Betty Friedan of New York as president. Re-elected as vice presidents were two former Commissioners of the Equal Employment Opportunity commission, Mrs. Aileen Hernandez of San Francisco and National Teacher Corps director Richard Graham. San Francisco biologist Inka O’Hanrahan was elected secretary-treasurer.

The Conference called for abolition of the women’s divisions of the major political parties and their integration into the parties’ main structures; and NOW advised women to “refrain from merely doing the traditional menial work of sealing envelopes, ringing doorbells, raising pin money and holding koffee klatches unless they are also admitted to the policy-making mainstream of the political parties.” More than a dozen Conference resolutions regarding political action included one suggesting that NOW members “cross party lines to elect candidates who support equality for women, and to defeat its enemies.

Although many sections of the NOW Bill of Rights for women were passed unanimously, two sections engendered heated discussion before passage by the Conference. One resulted in NOW support for the Equal Rights Constitutional Amendment, currently before Congress, providing that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” This language became the first item in NOW’s “Bill of Rights for Women.”

The second controversy ended in a strong NOW stand on birth control and abortion: “NOW endorses the principle that it is a basic right of every woman to control her reproductive life; and therefore NOW supports the furthering of the sexual revolution of our century by pressing for widespread sex education and provision of birth control information and contraceptives, and by urging that all laws penalizing abortion be repealed.” This too was incorporated in the NOW Bill of Rights for Women.

Another section in the NOW Bill of Rights stressed the right of women to be accorded equal treatment with other victims of discrimination in all decisions by governmental officials and agencies regarding employment discrimination. This includes the right to “immediate relief from governmental rulings permitting sex-segregated Help Wanted ads, which perpetuate and tolerate discrimination.” NOW has repeatedly urged the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to outlaw sex-segregated classified ads as violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employment discrimination based upon sex as well as race, religion, or national origin.

Sounding a battle cry for the election year ahead, NOW president Betty Friedan urged “the organization of women and men committed to our goals into a true voting power block. I will not call it `woman power’ for it includes men. We must find a synonym for ‘sexual equality power.'” This “New Woman” power block, Mrs. Friedan said includes “28 million American working women, the millions of women emerging from our colleges each year who are intent on full participation in the mainstream of our society, and mothers who are emerging from their homes to go back to school or work. This New Woman could prove a significant factor in the presidential election.”

The Bill of Rights for Women also states: “The rights of women in poverty to secure job training, housing and family allowances in equal terms with men must be secured by revision of welfare legislation and poverty programs which today deny women of dignity privacy and self-respect.” A separate NOW resolution deplored “discrimination against women within the Job Corps and other poverty programs”and called for appointment of more women to policy-making posts in poverty programs and agencies. NOW also passed a resolution regarding H.R.12080, the Social Security bill passed by the House of Representatives and currently before the Senate, which makes it possible for women receiving Aid to Dependent Children welfare payments to be forced to take jobs or job training, and to place their children in child care centers. NOW has previously written the Senate Finance Committee in strong opposition to this requirement, stating it would be “punitive, undemocratic and un-American to deny welfare mothers of the option of choosing whether to work or stay home with their children.” NOW supported the language of the amendment to this bill proposed by Senator Robert Kennedy of New York.

In reference to child care centers, The NOW Bill of Rights for Women states: “To ensure the right of women to participate on an equal basis with men in the world of work, education and political service, fully adequate child care facilities be established by Federal law on the same basis as parks, libraries and public schools, as a community resource to be used at the option of citizens from all income levels.”

The NOW Bill of Rights for Woman continues: “The right of women to equal opportunities in employment must be implemented by immediate revision of income tax laws ensuring the right to permit the deduction of full home and and child care expenses for working parents.

Another plank in the NOW Bill of Rights states: “Since bearing and rearing children is important to society, the right of women who want to, or have to work not to suffer because of maternity, must be protected by laws ensuring their right to return to the job within a reasonable time after childbirth, without loss of disability credits or seniority.

“Finally, the NOW Bill of Rights for women urges: “The right of every man and woman to be educated to the fullest potential should be secured by federal and state laws to eliminate quotas and discrimination on the basis of sex on all levels of education, discrimination in loans and fellowships, segregation of educational facilities including dropout programs, and education which develops passivity and inferior aspirations among women while encouraging abdication of responsibility for home and children among men.”

At a press conference this morning In the Mayflower Hotel, NOW officers revealed the new “Bill of Rights for Women” and announced NOW support for music teacher Cindy Hill in her fight against the school district of Chartiers Valley Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Mrs. Hill was deprived of sabbatical study pay, and subsequently fired, after she gave birth to a baby while on sabbatical leave obtaining her master’s degree at Duquesne University. NOW charged the school district has “violated the rights of motherhood, the rights of a married couple to manage its own family, and the basic individual rights of a teacher”and called Mrs. Hill’s case “a serious example of employment discrimination based on sex.” Introduced at the press conference, Mrs. Hill stressed that she had fulfilled all requirements of her sabbatical study leave, and had won her master degree “with accolades,” taking off only one week to have her baby.

The NOW Conference also heard three women from Indiana who were denied higher paying jobs with the Colgate-Palmolive Company because of new weight-limit restrictions imposed by the company on women workers only. One of the women, Mrs. Georgianna Sellers, was elected to the NOW board of directors.

The Conference unanimously adopted a resolution stating “Women should be equitably represented on all policy-making boards, committees and commissions of governmental, political and tax-free quasi-public organizations which have a bearing on the over-all well being of people.”

The Conference resolved: “It is the right of women to participate on an equal basis with men at all levels and in all areas of church life and practice” and approved the report of NOW’s Task Force on Religion calling for removal of sex segregational religious organizations and church-sponsored schools. This report said NOW members must “strive to open the priesthood and ministry to women in religious groups where it is now forbidden.” And it called for “equal pay for equal work” for women employed by religious institutions.

Delegates at the NOW conference included several veterans of the early movement for women’s right to vote, and also many students – young men and young women alike – from NOW groups on college campuses. The Conference adopted a 10-point report of its Campus Coordinating Committee urging a drive for equality in university employment, admissions, curricula, dormitory regulations, student loans, scholarships and all other phases of campus life. The report also urged integration of dormitory facilities, dining halls, study rooms and recreation facilities.

The NOW “Image of Woman” committee report adopted at the convention, called upon members and chapters to fight for “more realistic and varied images of women” in the mass media including textbooks and it stressed, especially, the need for television programs to depict more examples of women who are experts in many fields “to supplement the all-pervasive image of the aproned mother.”

The NOW Board of Directors for the following year includes: Julia Arri, California clothing company executive, past president of the California Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs; art historian Ti-Grace Atkinson of New York; Ernesta D. Ballard, Philadelphia horticulturist and author; Elizabeth Boyer, attorney, past president of the Ohio League of Women Voters; Grace D. Cox, New York City attorney, president of the National Association of Women Lawyers; Professor Carl Degler of Stanford University, prominent historian and author; Alisson Drucker, student at the University of Chicago; Sister Mary Austin Doherty, a Catholic nun, teacher at Alverno College; Dr. Elizabeth Jane Farians, Catholic theologian from New Jersey; Frances Flores of Riverside, California, consultant to the Food and Drug Administration; Muriel Fox of New York City, vice-president of one of the country’s largest public relations agencies; Ruth Gage-Colby of Minnesota and New York, journalist, and board member of the women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Jane Hart, wife of the Senator from Michigan, herself a professional pilot who campaigned for admission of women as astronauts; Claire Hatch, Connecticut teacher and industrial artist; Wilma Heide, Pittsburgh sociologist and journalist; Dr. Anna Arnold Hedgeman, coordinator of the Commission on Religion and Race of the National Council of Churches; Barbara Ireton, Washington public relations executive; Lucy Jarvis, prize-winning NBC Television network producer; Coretta King, Atlanta civic leader and concert singer, wife of Dr. Martin Luther King; Reverend Dean Lewis of Philadelphia, Secretary of the Office of Social Education and Evangelism, United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.; Ollie Butler-Moore of Baton Rouge, dean of women at Louisiana State College; Eliza Paschall, Atlanta community relations official and member of the Unitarian Universalist Association Commission on Religion and Race; Marguerite Rawalt, Washington attorney and past president of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs; Sylvia Radyx, Washington research consultant in information sciences; Dollie Robinson, New York attorney, official with the Hotel and Allied Service Union; Dr. Alice S. Rossi, prominent sociologist at Johns Hopkins University; Aaron Scheinfeld of Milwaukee and Chicago, chairman of Manpower, Inc.; Susanne Schad-Somers, Rutgers University sociologist; Georgianna Sellers, the Indiana worker mentioned previously; and Los Angeles attorney, Evelyn Whitlow.

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