The National Women’s Law Center has worked for more than 40 years to protect and promote equality and opportunity for women and families. We champion policies and laws that help women and girls achieve their potential at every stage of their lives — at school, at work, at home, and in retirement. Our staff are committed advocates who take on the toughest challenges, especially for the most vulnerable women.

  • 1970s

    The 1970s saw the founding of the National Women’s Law Center as a women’s rights project, a landmark Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion, protections for pregnant workers, new enforcement to ensure child support, and much more.

  • 1972

    The Center is established as a project of the Center for Law and Social Policy to secure and advance legal rights and protections for women in the courts, in Congress and in the states.

  • 1973

    With Roe v. Wade just decided, the Center turns to reproductive rights, and stops the coercive use of an experimental contraceptive on poor and institutionalized women.

  • 1974

    The Center files Relf and NWRO v. Weinberger, which secures new HEW regulations to protect poor women from involuntary sterilization.

  • 1975

    Congress creates the Child Support Enforcement Program to provide new legal remedies, which the Center plays a central role in expanding in 1984, 1988, 1993, 1996, and 1998.

  • 1976

    Women Working in Construction v. Marshall is filed, and in 1978 the Center wins a court order requiring government-enforced, nationwide goals for hiring women in federally funded construction.

  • 1977

    The Center wins a landmark court decree, WEAL v. Weinberger, requiring timely government enforcement of Title IX and Executive Order 11246 prohibiting sex discrimination in schools nationwide.

  • 1978

    The Center plays a leadership role in passing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, establishing that Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on pregnancy.

  • 1979

    The Supreme Court adopts the Center’s friend-of-the-court arguments in Califano v. Westcott, establishing that AFDC must be available for two-parent families with unemployed mothers, not just those with unemployed fathers. 

  • 1980s

    In the 1980s, the Center’s work leads to a precedent-setting Title IX athletics ruling, expansion of tax credits for low-income families, greater legal protections from sexual harassment, and much more.

  • 1980

    The Center brings the first major Title IX case challenging an entire intercollegiate athletic program, Haffer v. Temple University, leading to a precedent-setting, court-ordered settlement expanding the entire women’s sports program.

  • 1981

    The Center becomes the independent National Women’s Law Center and helps secure an expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit that makes it more valuable to low-income families.

  • 1982

    With the Equal Rights Amendment extension drive just expired, Justice O’Connor’s early opinion in MUW v. Hogan adopts arguments advanced by the Center establishing stronger constitutional protection against sex discrimination.

  • 1983

    The Center wins Parents Without Partners v. Massinga, establishing a right to state child support enforcement services without regard to income.

  • 1984

    IRS determines that almost 1.4 million new taxpayers claimed the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit after the Center convinced IRS to add the credit to the 1040A “short form” the year before.

  • 1985

    With Congress beginning to debate major tax reform, the Center organizes and co-chairs the first ever Coalition on Women and Taxes, helping to win important benefits for women in the 1986 Tax Reform Act.

  • 1986

    The Supreme Court establishes that sexual harassment violates Title VII, prohibiting sex discrimination in employment, in a case in which the Center participated, and the Center launches a major effort in the courts, Congress and government agencies to expand its legal protection.

  • 1987

    With the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, the Center releases the widely quoted report, Setting the Record Straight: Judge Bork and the Future of Women’s Rights, forming a basis for successful opposition to his confirmation.

  • 1988

    With the Center leading the Title IX coalition, Congress passes the Civil Rights Restoration Act, establishing that all parts of schools, including athletics, are covered by Title IX if any part receives federal funds.

  • 1989

    The Center secures $14 million for women and minorities, the largest-ever Executive Order 11246 back-pay award, in Department of Labor v. Harris Trust, while representing Women Employed.

  • 1990s

    In the 1990s, the Center helps pass major child care legislation and improved remedies for sexual harassment, secure the opening of military institutes and thousands of military jobs to women, and much more.

  • 1990

    The Center plays a central role in crafting and pressing a national agenda on child care, resulting in passage of the first comprehensive child care legislation since World War II.

  • 1991

    Anita Hill’s testimony rivets the country’s attention on sexual harassment, aiding the Center and its allies in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which adds a damages remedy in sexual harassment and other cases and otherwise strengthens employment discrimination law.

  • 1992

    Record numbers of women win public office and the Center helps win the Supreme Court case, Franklin v. Gwinnett County, holding that Title IX contains a damages remedy for sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination in schools.

  • 1993

    The Center’s three-year Child Care Tax Credits Outreach Campaign assures that millions of low-income families claim significantly more assistance under the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

  • 1994

    The Center’s analysis of gender stereotyped limitations helps secure congressional legislation and Defense Department policies that open 260,000 new military positions to women, including combat ships and aircraft.

  • 1995

    Women Prisoners of the District of Columbia v. D.C., a case developed and co-counseled by the Center, provides critical relief for women subjected to sexual abuse, inferior educational and vocational programs, and unsafe and unsanitary living conditions in D.C. prisons.

  • 1996

    The Supreme Court opens the Virginia Military Institute and The Citadel to women, adopting the strongest-ever standard of constitutional protection against sex discrimination, reflecting the Center’s lead friend-of-the-court brief.

  • 1997

    The Center files 25 Title IX charges against colleges and universities across the country alleging sex discrimination in athletic scholarships and ultimately securing millions of dollars more in scholarships for women students each year.

  • 1998

    The Center helps pass the Child Support Performance and Incentive Act, which holds states accountable for improving their child support enforcement programs by basing federal incentive payments to states on their performance records.

  • 1999

    The Center wins the landmark Supreme Court decision in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, holding schools accountable under Title IX for student-to-student sexual harassment.

  • 2000s

    In the 2000s, the Center expands access to contraceptives through a landmark EEOC ruling, improves tax credits for families, uncovers disparities women face in health insurance, and much more.

  • 2000

    The Center expands women’s access to prescription contraceptives by securing a landmark EEOC ruling that employers’ exclusion of contraceptives from otherwise comprehensive health insurance plans constitutes sex discrimination and serving on the legal team that won the first federal court ruling to the same effect, Erickson v. Bartell Drug Co.

  • 2001

    The Center seizes the opportunity to improve the Child Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit to benefit millions of low- and middle-income families and co-chairs a coalition of more than 350 diverse organizations whose educational efforts limit to some extent the size of the 2001 federal tax cut.

  • 2002

    During Title IX’s 30th anniversary year, the Center brings national attention to the discrimination that women and girls still face in education by conducting a nationwide investigation into high school vocational and technical programs, showing that girls are segregated into traditionally female and lower-paying careers, and by exposing a $6.5 million scholarship gap for female athletes at just 30 colleges and universities alone.

  • 2003

    The Center releases the groundbreaking Women and Smoking: A National and State-by-State Report Card, the first comprehensive assessment of women’s smoking-related health conditions and tobacco-control policies, urging states and the nation to adopt cost-effective, proven policies to reduce smoking among women and girls.

  • 2004

    The Center, building on its pioneering legal theories, partners with the NAACP to inform and activate African American communities to fight threats to reproductive health services by a growing number of hospitals refusing to provide emergency and other forms of contraception, full HIV/AIDS counseling, tubal ligations, and abortions.

  • 2005

    The Center achieves a groundbreaking Supreme Court victory in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, a critically important Title IX decision that makes clear that the law prohibits retaliation against those who complain about sex discrimination and restores protections essential to the effective enforcement of Title IX and other bedrock civil rights laws.

  • 2006

    The Center issues its quadrennial 50-state report card and analysis of state child care tax provisions, Making Care Less Taxing, documenting improvements in 23 state tax provisions secured by the Center and its partners, and engages in an intensive outreach campaign with state child care groups that increases the number of families claiming tax credits to help pay for child care and meet other needs.

  • 2007

    The Center improves women’s economic security by helping to secure the first increase in the federal minimum wage in ten years and gaining House passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007, which reverses a Supreme Court decision making it nearly impossible for women to obtain relief for sex discrimination in compensation.

  • 2008

    The Center releases its groundbreaking report, Nowhere to Turn: How the Individual Health Insurance Market Fails Women, which documents the disparities that women face in the individual insurance market, such as being charged more than men for coverage and being rejected for coverage for “pre-existing conditions,” such as having survived domestic violence.

  • 2009

    The Center’s extensive national campaign to pass critical pay equity legislation results in the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act being passed by Congress and signed into law, and its new awareness campaign, “Being a Woman is Not a Pre-existing Condition,” galvanizes a national movement to end insurers’ discriminatory practices based on gender.

  • 2010s

    In the 2010s, the Center helps pass the landmark health care law, ends the policy banning women from direct ground combat, wins the reauthorization of a key child care block grant, and much more.

    Because of the Center’s work, a woman in an office building or an Army tank has more protection against discrimination and more opportunity than ever before. A high school or college student has many more chances to play sports and reap the benefits. A family has better access to affordable health coverage. And an older woman is more likely to have economic security in her retirement.