Founded in 1971 as the Women’s Legal Defense Fund, the National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF) took its new name in 1998. It describes itself as “a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses public education and advocacy to promote fairness in the workplace, quality health care, and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family.” The organization’s stated mission is “to create a society that is free, fair and just. Where equal opportunity and women’s rights are secure. Where nobody has to experience discrimination, all workplaces are family-friendly, and no family is without quality, affordable health care and real economic security.”
NPWF’s Board of Directors in chaired by Ellen Malcolm, founder of America Coming Together, and EMILY’s List, and a major fundraiser for America Votes and the Media Fund. Another NPWF Board member is Lisa Caputo, former press Secretary of then-First Lady Hillary Clinton.
A member group of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, NPWF states: “Not long ago, there were separate help-wanted ads for women and men. For too many women, discrimination still plays a role in the jobs they get, the wages they are paid, and the promotions they receive. Whether it is unwelcome sexual advances on the job, gender-based pay scales that lower women’s wages, or old-fashioned attitudes about pregnancy or certain racial or ethnic communities, many women still work in unfair environments that make it difficult for them to succeed.”
To “promote fairness in the workplace,” NPWF tries to influence public opinion and lobbies legislators to pass laws consistent with its vision. Toward these ends, NPWF disseminates fact sheets and other publications detailing its position on such matters as workplace discrimination, paid leave, civil rights, affirmative action, judicial nominations, health care, welfare, and Social Security. NPWF also sends press releases and statements to the media pertaining to these and other matters.
NPWF takes credit for the passage of several pieces of legislation including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (which made it easier for complainants to prove ‘disparate impact’ claims in discrimination cases and established a “Glass Ceiling Commission” to study barriers to the professional advancement of women and minorities), and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (which required larger businesses to grant their workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for, among other reasons, the birth and care of the employee’s newborn child).
NPWF supports race- and sex-based preferences — commonly referred to as affirmative action policies — in employment and education. It supports “comprehensive reproductive health care,” including advocacy of women’s right to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand. In 1993 the organization initiated its Women and Health Project to resist proposed bans on partial-birth abortion, and to expand both government and private insurance coverage of all forms of abortion and contraception. The organization opposes any movement toward the privatization of even a small portion of Social Security. (“Women would be disproportionately harmed by private savings accounts,” says NPWF, “because they historically earn less than men, are less likely to have the resources to save for retirement, spend less time in the workforce due to caregiving responsibilities and, on average, live longer than men.”)
NPWF also opposes welfare reform measures like the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which was signed into law by President Clinton and transformed America’s welfare system by reducing its rolls dramatically.”
Basic membership in NPWF costs $45 per year for an individual ($35 for students and professionals under age 30); this fee includes a one-year subscription to the National Partnership newsletter. There are also higher levels of membership, whose larger fees (ranging from $100 to $10,000 annually) entitle members to additional benefits and privileges.
NPWF receives funding from the Aaron Foundation, the AEGON Transamerica Foundation, A.L. Mailman Family Foundation, the Beech Street Foundation, the Cigna Foundation, the Copydog Foundation, the Damial Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Fannie Mae Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Foundation for Child Development, the George Gund Foundation, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Marin Community Foundation, the Moriah Fund, the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, the Norman Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rosenberg Foundation, the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
In the fiscal year running from April 2003 through March 2004, NPWF’s total revenues were $3.4 million.