National Women's Law Center

We are passionate champions of national and state policies and laws that help women and girls achieve their potential throughout their lives-at school, at work, at home, in their families, and in their communities. We are committed advocates who take on the toughest challenges, especially for women who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and women who are low-income - and we make change happen.

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Policy Legislation

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About National Women's Law Center

The National Women’s Law Center was founded in 1972 by women’s rights lawyers Marcia Greenberger and Nancy Duff Campbell. They started the center when secretaries at a public interest law firm asked for better pay, more women attorneys, a focus on women’s rights, and to be relinquished of their coffee serving duty. NWLC succeeded in securing these changes.

Since then, NWLC has used litigation and policy initiatives to advocate for a variety of women’s rights topics including health care and reproductive rights, child care and early learning, education opportunities and support, poverty and security, fair workplaces, and racial and ethnic justice. They have seen many successes, including helping to legalize abortion, providing protections for pregnant workers, and expanding access to contraceptives and childcare.

Why We Chose To Feature This Organization

The U.S. has a long way to go in ensuring the rights put forth in Article 25 of the UDHR. We should be helping women by providing affordable and high-quality healthcare, paid maternity leave, and resources for children as they grow older (affordable daycare, afterschool programs, health insurance, etc.). Instead, the U.S. has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, no federal policy for providing paid maternity leave, and affordable childcare and afterschool programs are few and far between. If we want women to be true equals in society, we must provide adequate resources for motherhood and enable women to be mothers and professionals at the same time. NWLC works hard to progress women’s rights and make equality an attainable reality.

We respect NWLC for practicing what they preach. As you’ll learn in our report, women are frequently underpaid and passed over for promotions, but not at NWLC. As reported on their 990 form, all of their highly compensated employees are women. Their board is also majority women. In order to create true change and promote equality for women, it is important that companies include women at the top and pay them fair wages.

Policy & Legislature

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Moving Women & Families Forward: a Federal Roadmap to Economic Justice

Women earn an income in two-thirds of American families, making it more common for them to work outside the home than not. Women account for 46.8% of the workforce and have more bachelor’s degrees than men. Unfortunately, these statistics haven’t translated into economic success. In 2014, the median income for a woman working full-time was just under $40,000, over $10,000 less than the $50,300 median for men. For women of color, the number is even lower: approximately $33,500 for African American women and $30,000 for Latinas. Women, especially women of color, are more likely to be impoverished than men.

It is more than just the wage gap that keeps women from gaining equal economic success. Many women lack access to comprehensive healthcare, including access to abortions and birth control. Once they have children it is incredibly difficult to access affordable childcare and early education. Women still face discrimination in the workforce, especially when they are pregnant. Employers are not required to offer paid sick or maternity leave, leaving women to lose a day (or months’) of pay in order to care for their family or themselves.

The degrees that women work so hard for come at a price: the high-interest debt accumulated to obtain these degrees hurts their finances for years down the road. Safety is also an issue, with a whopping 23% of women undergraduate students reporting experiencing rape or sexual assault on campus. In order for women to thrive and succeed, many things in our society need to change.

In this report, NWLC provides Congress with seven areas in which they could enact policies that would help to make society more equitable for women. Each section is comprised of multiple policy suggestions, and each suggestion includes an overview of the problem, elements of the solution, evidence of support for the solution, and talking points for both the problem and the solution. The report is 72 pages in total. For the sake of brevity, we will list the general areas and policy suggestions below.


  • Raise the federal minimum wage  
  • Improve the earned income tax credit
  • Improve social security benefits and pension protections
  • Invest in key programs for women and their families such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) should receive increased federal funding


  • Address insurance coverage for uninsured and underinsured women
  • Provide insurance coverage of abortion
  • End state restrictions that make it difficult and/or impossible for women to obtain an abortion
  • Remove barriers to birth control


  • Promote fair work schedules
  • Invest in early care and education
  • Ensure paid time off


  • Strengthen equal pay laws
  • Treat pregnant workers fairly
  • Prohibit employers from discriminating based on employees’ reproductive health decisions
  • Prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Improve workers’ ability to hold employers accountable for sexual harassment
  • Support fair chance policies in employment


  • Improve federal financial aid and supports for low-income students pursuing higher education
  • Address sexual assault in schools
  • Reduce the disproportionate suspensions and expulsions of girls of color


  • Prohibit discrimination and provide services for survivors
  • Update federal laws to protect women immigrants


  • Strengthen collective bargaining

Amicus Curiae Briefs

An Amicus brief is a legal document filed in a case by someone who has no direct involvement in the proceedings. Instead, the party who submits the brief does so in order to provide additional information and expert opinion on the broader issues involved in the case. NWLC files numerous amicus briefs per year for a variety of cases, including those that seek to protect women from unfair discrimination, guarantee their access to comprehensive health care, and close the wage gap. Amicus briefs are an excellent way to have an impact on a case that will affect members of your community, or in NWLC’s case, to have an impact on the lives of American women across the country.

Young v. United Parcel Service

Women face many negative stereotypes and misconceptions in the workforce. When a woman is of child-bearing age, employers view her as a liability: she could get pregnant at any moment and require time off for doctor appointments and maternity leave. Countless studies have shown that highly skilled women are passed over for positions and promotions because they are mothers and are therefore viewed as less committed to their work. Women are often told to hide the fact that they are mothers until they are hired, and many women go so far as taking off their wedding rings before an interview. There are certain laws in place that are meant to protect women from these types of discrimination, but many employers have chosen to challenge them.

In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was passed in order to ensure that employees would not be discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions. This act required that women affected by pregnancy and/or childbirth “shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits…as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work”. Basically, if the conditions that a pregnant worker is experiencing would lead to benefits or lighter duty for a non-pregnant worker, the pregnant worker should also receive these benefits. The cause of the conditions doesn’t matter, only the conditions themselves.

Peggy Young was a delivery driver for United Parcel Service (UPS). When she became pregnant, her doctors informed her that she wouldn’t be able to lift more than 20 pounds in her first twenty weeks of pregnancy, and no more than 10 pounds in her remaining weeks of pregnancy. Young offered to continue her regular duties since the packages she delivered were usually quite light. She also offered to assume lighter duties for the duration of her pregnancy. UPS considered her too big of a liability, and she was forced to take an unpaid leave, resulting in the suspension of her employer-provided health insurance. Young sued UPS, but both the trial court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that UPS’ refusal to accommodate her needs weren’t considered pregnancy discrimination under the PDA. The case progressed all the way to the Supreme Court.

Together with Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and the 95th Congress, NWLC filed an amicus brief for Young v United Parcel Service in the interest of protecting the interpretation and application of the PDA. The amici (submitters of the letter) argued that the language of the PDA is unambiguous, and that Congress passed the act with the intent of requiring employers to treat workers with medical needs due to pregnancy the same as they would be treated had the medical needs arose from injury, disability, or disease. In their decision, the Fourth Circuit ignored the explicit language of the mandate, and in doing so, opened up the possibility for other employers to justify denying pregnant workers benefits that they would grant to non-pregnant workers. The amici reminded the Court that hostility towards pregnant women is a form of sex discrimination, and that in order to end the discrimination so frequently faced by pregnant and non-pregnant women alike, the Court must respect the language of the PDA and overturn the Fourth Circuit’s original decision.

Thanks in part to their work, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 in favor of Young, deciding that employers cannot deny pregnant workers accommodations that would otherwise be awarded to employees injured on the job. In order to receive these benefits, the pregnant woman must prove that they were refused accommodation that was offered to similar workers. UPS has since begun assigning pregnant women lighter duty.



National Women's Law Center

Nancy Duff Campbell

Founder, Co-President, and Chief Executive Officer

Experience and Education
  • Attorney at the Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law in New York
  • Law Degree from New York University School of Law
  • Undergraduate degree from Barnard College of Columbia University

National Women's Law Center

Marcia D. Greenberger

Founder, Co-President, and Director

Experience and Education
  • Attorney at Caplin and Drysdale
  • Juris Doctorate and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania

National Women's Law Center

Nancy Withbroe

Chief Operations Officer and Chief of Staff

Experience and Education
  • Vice President of Development and Strategy at NWLC and Senior Director of Development at Share Our Strength
  • Master’s in Educational Leadership from American University
  • Bachelor of Arts in English from Carleton College
  • Certified Fundraising Executive (CRFE)

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