Celebrating 40 Years of Advancing Women's Rights
2010 was the 40th Anniversary of Legal Momentum’s work to advance the personal and economic security of all women and girls.
Legal Momentum is the nation’s oldest non-profit legal organization dedicated to women’s rights. Legal Momentum was founded in 1970 by the National Organization for Women (NOW) as NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. The legal advocacy organization immediately began litigating employment discrimination, family law, and discrimination in education cases. It also embarked upon a public education campaign to highlight the great loss to the country when women cannot fully utilize their talents.
Since then, Legal Momentum has pioneered litigation and cutting-edge public policy solutions to combat discrimination, advance women’s rights, prevent violence against women, and address poverty, which disproportionately affects millions of women and children in America.
A sampling of accomplishments over the decades illustrates Legal Momentum’s breadth and impact -- in the courts, in policy, in legislation and, most importantly, in the lives of women and girls.
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- NOW founders incorporate NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (what became Legal Momentum in 2004) as a separate organization, dedicated to providing legal advocacy for women’s rights.
- Legal Momentum successfully mounts several employment discrimination cases focused on company policies that bar women from engaging in certain types of work and bar hiring women with children.
- Legal Momentum launches the Project on Equal Education Rights (PEER) to realize the promise of Title IX and eliminate sex discrimination in schools.
- Legal Momentum co-organizes campaign to End Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers.
- Legal Momentum and the Women’s Law Project establish the ERA Impact Project to focus on equality under state constitutions’ equal rights provisions.
- More LM accomplishments from the 1970s.
- Legal Momentum with the National Association of Women Judges establishes the National Judicial Education Program to Promote Equality for Women and Men in the Courts (NJEP) to identify and eliminate gender bias in the courts. ERA Impact Project wins the first state ERA case, supporting the right of Pennsylvania women to be volunteer firefighters.
- Legal Momentum persuades West Virginian Supreme Court to recognize a homemaker’s contribution to the marriage in dividing assets at divorce.
- Legal Momentum publishes the first-of-its-kind State by State Guide to Women’s Rights.
- Legal Momentum wins a landmark sexual harassment case establishing that pornography in the workplace can create a hostile work environment.
- More LM accomplishments from the 1980s.
- Legal Momentum founds the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women to promote national legislation on violence against women, resulting in the groundbreaking Violence Against Women Act of 1994.
- Legal Momentum publishes Manual for Survival for Women in Nontraditional Employment.
- Congress passes the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), legislation drafted and advanced by Legal Momentum, to protect women seeking reproductive health services from clinic blockades and harassment.
- Legal Momentum establishes the Building Opportunities Beyond Welfare Reform coalition to fight for policies to end women’s poverty.
- Legal Momentum founds the Immigrant Women Program (IWP) to advocate for legal protections, social services and economic and personal security for immigrant women.
- More LM accomplishments from the 1990s.
- In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Legal Momentum launches Equality Works, a program dedicated to ensuring equal opportunity for women in the trades working to rebuild New York.
- Legal Momentum is co-counsel in a case resulting in the first ever court ruling that welfare recipients in workfare are employees protected by Title VII laws against discrimination and sexual harassment.
- The National Judicial Education Program's nationwide presentations prompt state chief justices to appoint task forces to investigate gender bias in their own jurisdictions and implement reforms. NJEP advises the 45 state task forces on all phases of their work.
- Legal Momentum leads the 2000 and 2005 reauthorizations of the the Violence Against Women Act, which has awarded nearly $9 billion to state, tribal and local governments, non-profit organizations and universities to prevent violence against women and improve the response to victims.
- The Immigrant Women Program is instrumental in the creation of U-visas and T-visas, which allow immigrant victims of crime to come forward and cooperate with investigations without fear of deportation.
- Legal Momentum successfully fights to expand unemployment insurance to previously ineligible women workers: victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking forced to leave their jobs for safety concerns, part-time workers, and those who must leave a job to attend to ailing family members.
- In response to the 2008 economic crisis, Legal Momentum mounts a campaign to ensure that women benefit from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding and that federal contracts address occupational discrimination and create opportunities for women in non-traditional jobs in growing industries like energy and engineering.
- More LM accomplishments from the 2000s.