About NCW/US

Many events throughout history show the struggles and triumphs of women in the fight toward equality. Some of these events weave into the history of the National Council of Women of the United States, which we honor; our history is highlighted below.

The following preamble was presented on March 31, 1888 and adopted at a meeting by the first official officers of the National Council of Women of the United States: Frances E. Willard, President; Susan B. Anthony, Vice President:

“We, women of the United States of America, believing that the best good of humanity will be advanced by efforts toward greater unity of sympathy and purpose, and that a voluntary association of individuals so united will best serve the highest good of the family, the community, the state, do hereby freely band ourselves together into a federation of all races, creeds, and traditions, to further the application of the Golden Rule to society, custom, and law.”

Today, the National Council of Women of the United States, working with its member organizations and individual members, continues to adhere to the above statement in our efforts to drive social and political change

Founded in 1888, The National Council of Women holds Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the UN Department of Information (DPI); the highest accreditations an NGO can achieve at the United Nations

The National Council of Women of the United States (NCW/US) has a rich and storied history. Along with its affiliate organization the International Council of Women, the Council can trace its roots to the Suffragette and antislavery movements of the early 1800s.

In 1888 a conference was convened in Washington DC by the National Woman Suffrage Association to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the first women’s rights convention that was held in Seneca Falls in 1848.Delegates from ten countries representing fifty-three organizations met to discuss issues important to women, including the right to vote, women’s work and the right of equal pay, education, and child welfare.

Frances E. Willard of the National Woman’ Christian Temperance Union became the first president of the National Council of Women of the United States, with Susan B. Anthony as vice-president and May Wright Sewall as corresponding secretary.The Council was inclusive from the outset and embraced women’s organizations from such varied organizations as the Women’s Relief Association of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the National Association of Colored Women, the Universal Peace Union, National Council of Jewish Women, and the Women’s Free Baptist Association to name a few.Today, the Council continues its founding mission and objectives. The Council has a membership of affiliate organizations and NGOs, each with programs reflecting its founding values in countries all over the world.

The National Council of Women of the United States is an accredited non-governmental organization (NGO) with the Department of Public Information (UN/DP) and has Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).

1848—The first women’s rights convention, led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott was held in Seneca Falls, NY. The convention yielded “The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” and among its resolutions, declared that “woman is equal to man”.

1851–Former slave, abolitionist, and fierce advocate for women’s rights, Sojourner Truth, delivers her famous ” Ain’t I A Woman” speech at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

1869–Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony found the National Woman Suffrage Association. Lucy Stone forms the American Woman Suffrage Association. Both groups pursued the right to vote for women.

1888—The International Council for Women (ICW) and the National Council of Women of the United States (NCWUS) are founded at a conference called by the National Woman Suffrage Association in Washington DC. Constitutions for both organizations were formalized on March 31, 1888. Frances Willard became the first president of the National Council of Women of the United States, with Susan B. Anthony as Vice President and May Wright Seawall as Corresponding Secretary.

1904—Susan B. Anthony presides over the conference of the International Council of Women in Berlin. Hannah Solomon, founder and first president of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), represented NCWUS.

1906—Susan B. Anthony dies at her home in Rochester, New York. She took ill while on her way home from the National Suffrage Convention in Baltimore. Days before her death, according to the New York Times’ March 13, 1906 account, Mrs. Anthony said to her friend, Anna Shaw, “To think I have had more than sixty years of hard struggle for a little liberty, and then to die without it seems so cruel.”

1920—The 19th Amendment, also known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, is ratified by Congress. The Amendment states: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

1933—President Franklin D. Roosevelt appoints Frances Perkins as the first female Secretary of Labor. In this “New Deal” era, many women, including Mary McLeod Bethune who became director of the Negro Affairs Division of the National Youth Administration, obtained positions in federal service bureaus at the urging of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Democratic women’s leader Molly Dewson.

1945–The United Nations Charter is signed, and declared in part that: “the peoples of the United Nations . . . reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women . . . .”

1946—The Commission on the Status of Women is established by the United Nations. Its mandate as stated was to: “prepare recommendations and reports to the Economic and Social Council on promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields” and to make recommendations “on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women’s rights.”

1943–Ruth Handy, 4th National President of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women became a member of the National Council of Women.

1948–Eleanor Roosevelt heads the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and obtains passage of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

1961—The President’s Commission on the Status of Women is established, headed by Eleanor Roosevelt. The Commission successfully pushes for passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, the first federal law to require equal compensation for men and women in federal jobs.

1972—President Nixon signs the Equal Rights Amendment after its passage by both houses of Congress banning discrimination on the basis of gender.

1979--The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, and became effective in 1981.

2003—Mary E. Singletary elected as the President of National Council of Women U.S. (NCWUS)

2009-NCWUS’ First Susan B. Anthony Humanitarian Award was presented to Ann Gloag of Scotland for her Humanitarian Advocacy at the United Nations

2014—NCWUS’ second Susan B. Anthony Award presented to Dr. Eleanor Baum, Dean Emeritus of Cooper Union’s Albert Nerken School of Engineering, the First women engineer to become Dean of a Engineering School.

March 28, 2014 Cooper Union for Advancementof Science and Art

2014—NCWUS celebrates 125 years of history with a day-long symposium at The Cooper Union for Adcancement of Science and Art. The symposium held in the Great Hall where Susan B. Anthony gave many of her speeches. The symposium was attended by many dignitaries. The Council received proclamations of congratulations from President Obama, Governor Mario Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Today—The fight for equality is still being waged on many fronts in many countries around the world. Despite the increase in the number of women leaders, notably in Africa, women worldwide are still seeking more political influence, better education for themselves and their children, access to affordable health reform, pay equity, and equality under the law.

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