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What actions does the National Organization for Women take to try to influence policy and public agenda? 

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The National Organization for Women (NOW) is a United States–based feminist organization that was founded in 1966. NOW was founded because leading feminists at the time, including renowned feminist author Betty Friedan, felt that the conferences and organizing for the equal rights of women were not doing enough and wanted a political organization to promote a gender-based agenda.

NOW has political offices in fifty states and over 600 chapters throughout the US, and it has its national headquarters in Washington, DC. Some of the ways that NOW influences policy is through the promotion and funding of its PAC, a fund that is used to endorse political candidates who are advancing the rights of women. Another way NOW effects policy is through lobbying. NOW encourages members and organizes groups to lobby for legislation that promotes NOW's organization values and advances the rights of women.

In terms of how NOW influences public agenda, NOW's organizational values include legal access to abortion, LGBTQIA rights and protections, and affirmative action, to name a few. These values interact with the public as NOW issues statements regarding its agenda and values to the general public and also organizes protests and civil disobedience based on these issues as they come up in public discourse and through related legislation.

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There are two additional actions that NOW takes to influence the public agenda, which can then influence public policy:

  • Getting feminists at colleges and universities to organize on their campuses. Developing the awareness and involvement of young people is key, not only to ensure the longevity of the organization, but also to ensure that NOW remains attuned to women's current concerns regarding social, political, and economic equality.
  • Social media engagement is another method. NOW maintains a presence on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. On their pages, they post articles related to contemporary feminist issues, such as reproductive rights and immigrant families in detainment, while also notifying followers of conferences and local meet-ups. Social media also gives followers the opportunity to engage with moderators at NOW directly over issues that concern them.
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The National Organization for Women, like most interest groups, engages in a variety of actions to try to influence the government.  Among these are such activities as:

  • Encouraging people to put pressure on Congress to act in certain ways on a given piece of legislation.  This is a classic "outside game" action because it involved trying to get the public to make its opinions known to government.
  • Endorse and work to elect candidates sympathetic to their views.  NOW donates money to candidates and helps their candidacies by doing such things as providing volunteers.
  • Lobbying.  This is the classic "inside game" thing for an interest to do.  NOW lobbyists speak directly to legislators to try to persuade them to vote to support NOW's agenda.

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