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Our History

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) welcomes you to a quick trip through history with a snapshot of how we’ve been turning anger into action for 50 years.

Since 1972, NWLC has given a voice to women’s rage—turning hurried whispers into desperate shouts, and finally, into a rallying cry for justice and change. Our leadership has fueled a vision—and solutions—for laws, policies, and a societal culture that center gender justice values.

Explore timeline

  • 1973

     After Roe v. Wade, reproductive rights become a cornerstone of our organization.

  • 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

    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.

  • 1974

    NWLC works to protect vulnerable women and women in low-paid jobs from testing and involuntary sterilization.

  • 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

    NWLC fights for enforcement of Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools or federally funded programming.

  • 1978

    NWLC sues the Department of Labor and spurs Congress’ passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

  • 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.