The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) was established in 1972 as the Women’s Rights Project of the Center for Law and Social Policy. NWLC became an independent organization in 1981. With the stated aim of “protect[ing] and advanc[ing] the progress of women and girls at work, in school, and in virtually every aspect of their lives,” NWLC promotes aggressive legislation and litigation campaigns to address alleged gender inequities in the United States. In pursuit of this objective, it receives much pro bono support from numerous law firms.
NWLC has several programs areas:
(a) Athletics: NWLC is a strong proponent of Title IX, a 1972 law which stipulates that in all federally funded schools, the funding given to female sports teams must proportionately match that given to male teams – even in cases where female squads attract far fewer spectators and generate far less revenue than the male teams.
(b) Education: NWLC states that it speaks out “against biased testing that restricts opportunities for female students, … [against] policies and practices that block women’s access to non-traditional courses such as math and science, [and against] pervasive sex-segregation in vocational schools.”
(c) Child & Family Support: This program advocates for expanded welfare benefits at the federal and state levels. NWLC supported the congressional passage of a bill appropriating nearly $1 billion of taxpayer money per year to child support for low-income families, yet it opposed efforts to increase the authority of private child-support collection agencies.
(d) Child Care & Early Education: This program seeks to expand public financing of child care for women who “have entered the paid workforce in unprecedented numbers.”
(e) Employment: According to NWLC, which is a member organization of the National Committee on Pay Equity, “Women still earn, on average, only 76 cents for every dollar earned by men. Sexual harassment, sexual stereotyping that bars the door to hiring and advancement opportunities, and other blatant and subtle forms of discrimination are still too common.” NWLC was a signatory — along with more than 120 other leftist organizations — to a 2000 campaign to increase the minimum wage.
(f) Health and Reproductive Rights: NWLC’s Medicaid Access Project has been critical of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), alleging that the latter “undermines women’s reproductive rights by recognizing a fetus as a ‘person.’” Its Women’s Health Report Card project criticizes those states that allegedly undermine women’s access to publicly funded abortions “through policies such as parental consent and notification requirements, waiting periods, and funding restrictions for abortion procedures.” And its Health Care Religious Restrictions Project seeks to provide legal recourse for individuals who are denied abortions by religiously affiliated health care institutions. NWLC also opposes hospital and HMO mergers that might eliminate abortion services; and it supports the RU-486 “morning after” abortion pill. A member of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, NWLC was a Co-Sponsoring Partner of the April 25, 2004 “March for Women’s Lives.”
(g) Judges, Courts, & Women’s Rights: Assailing judicial nominees who do not support its social agendas, NWLC says: “The core legal rights that women have won over the last 30 years — the right to choose, the right to equal opportunities in the workplace and schools, and a broad range of other legal protections that afford women their well-being and safety — are currently jeopardized by the appointment of federal judges who share an extreme legal philosophy.” Marcia Greenberger, one of NWLC’s two co-Presidents, has produced a series of reports designed to help block the nominations of conservatives and moderates to the federal bench. NWLC opposes any judge who favors parental consent requirements and age limitations on abortion.
(h) Sexual Harassment: This program pushes for a radically expanded definition of sexual harassment, to a degree where significant restrictions would be placed on free speech in the workplace and in the classroom.
(i) Social Security: NWLC lobbies for increased Social Security benefits to “improve the economic security of women, especially those older women who are most likely to be living in poverty.”
(j) Women in the Military: This program is “focused on improving the opportunities for women to serve in the full range of military assignments and expanding the protections against sexual harassment and other forms of sex-based discrimination.”
(k) Tax & Budget): Opposed to President Bush’s 2001 income tax cuts, NWLC favors higher taxes for the purpose of providing greater funding to such government programs as Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, foster care, health care, child-support enforcement, and student loans.
Marcia Greenberger’s NWLC co-President is Nancy Duff Campbell, who condemned the Bush tax cut as a “threat to women and families.” The organization’s chairman is Elizabeth Coleman. Among NWLC’s major benefactors are AFSCME; the AT&T Foundation; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the Fannie Mae Foundation; the Ford Foundation; the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation; the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; the Ms. Foundation for Women; the Nathan Cummings Foundation; the National Education Association; the Open Society Institute; the Rockefeller Family Fund; and the Turner Foundation.