Monday, January 3, 2011

A Brief History of NWPC

The National Women's Political Caucus is a nationwide, multi-partisan organization that works to build women's participation in the political process by increasing the number of pro-choice women in elected and appointed positions, specifically by recruiting, training, and supporting women who seek those elected and appointed offices.  

Women first began fighting for inclusion in the political process in 1848 in Seneca Falls, N.Y., when the organized women’s movement began. At that time, Carrie Chapman-Catt and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were among the leaders of women’s suffrage.  Finally, in California in 1911, and nationally in 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment, women won the right to vote.

Women’s fight for inclusion in the political process did not end with obtaining the right to vote.  Women continued working hard to make their voices heard and to influence legislative priorities.  NWPC was founded in the midst of the modern American women’s movement when 320 women from 26 states met under the leadership of feminists such asShirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, Francis “Sissy” Farenthold and Betty Friedan to form the caucus in Washington, D.C., in July, 1971. The first statement of purpose pledged to fight sexism, racism, institutional violence, and poverty. They chose to advocate for change by reforming major political parties, specifically by concentrating their efforts on supporting the election of feminist candidates to public office, regardless of party affiliation, and the advocacy of women’s issues.

In the first three years of its existence, female state officeholders increased by 36 percent as a result of NWPC recruitment and leadership programs. By 1976, they formed a political action committee and began contributing financially to selected races. We now proudly state that we are a multi-partisan organization that respects a woman’s right to make private medical decisions without governmental interference.

Organizing for the California NWPC started in October 1971 and it became an official state organization in 1973, dividing into Northern and Southern California caucuses.  




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