The National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC) was founded in 1971 for the express purpose of promoting women’s participation in both elected and appointed government offices on the national, state, and local levels; supplying political expertise to female office-seekers; and supporting women already holding political office.
Among NWPC’s founders were Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan, Eleanor Smeal, and Gloria Steinem. The group held its first convention in 1973 and elected Frances Farenthold, onetime Texas state legislator, as its first President that same year.
The current President of NWPC is Llenda Jackson-Leslie, a freelance writer and political activist. The organization maintains regional affiliates in 38 states and a variety of issue-specific caucuses, including caucuses for older women and “women of color.” It also sponsors outreach initiatives to girls aged 14 to 18, training them to be the feminist leaders of the future.
NWPC reserves its political and financial backing exclusively for female candidates who favor women’s right to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand. The organization supports these candidates via financial donations, “campaign skills training” workshops, and technical and strategic assistance. Its endorsement is technically available to all pro-choice women regardless of their party affiliation, but in practice the overwhelming majority of candidates receiving NWPC support are Democrats.
NWPC explains that it endorses only female candidates because “women govern differently than men,” placing “a higher value … on issues impacting children and families. … Women are far more likely [than men] to run [for public office] because they want to make people’s lives better.”
A key plank in NWPC’s pro-choice platform is unequivocal support for the late-term procedure commonly known as “partial-birth abortion.” The organization also opposes parental consent and notification laws for minor girls seeking abortions.
NWPC claims credit for having helped persuade the Democratic Party to nominate a woman — Geraldine Ferraro — as its Vice Presidential candidate in 1984. Claiming also to have played a role in the 1987 confirmation hearing defeat of President Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, NWPC subsequently pledged to “Bork” any candidate not fully committed to the doctrine of abortion-on-demand.
In the November 2004 elections, NWPC endorsed the candidacies of numerous members of the radical Progressive Caucus, including: Barbara Lee, Nancy Pelosi, Hilda Solis, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, and Lynn Woolsey. For the office of U.S. President that year, NWPC joined the National Organization for Women and the National Congress of Black Women in supporting, as its preferred candidate, former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun.
A member group of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, NWPC was a signatory — along with more than 120 other groups — to a campaign (initiated in 1998) to increase the minimum wage by one dollar per hour over a two-year period. Among NCWP’s fellow signers were the American Friends Service Committee, the Arab American Institute, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Catholics for a Free Choice, Center for Community Change, the Children’s Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the Ms. Foundation for Women, the NAACP, the National Council of Churches, the National Organization for Women, the National Urban League, the National Women’s Law Center, the Service Employees International Union, USAction, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
To raise funds for its activities, NWPC solicits personal donations from the public. It also collects annual dues from its members: “limited memberships” cost $20 per year, and “full memberships” cost $65. In addition, the organization has established a special “President’s Circle” to recognize members who make an annual contribution of $1,000 or more. NWPC also sells a Campaign Training Manual and CD, and shirts bearing logos that identify Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and John Roberts as “extremists.”
One of NWPC’s long-range goals is to achieve gender parity in Congress by the year 2020.