History & Timeline

We celebrate nearly five decades of progress … with more victories ahead.

Taking action since 1971, we are changing the world in ways that make life better for women and families.

Our goal is to create a society that is free, fair and just. Where nobody has to experience discrimination, all workplaces are family friendly, and no family is without quality, affordable health care and real economic security.

Today, we celebrate four decades of accomplishments. And, with your help, more victories lie ahead.

1971: A small group of extraordinary women forms the Women’s Legal Defense Fund (WLDF), later called the National Partnership for Women & Families.

1976: WLDF forms the Campaign to End Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers.

1977: WLDF litigates and wins Barnes v. Costle. The decision establishes, for the first time, that sexual harassment is illegal job discrimination.

1978: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is enacted, thanks in large part to the work of WLDF. This legislation clarifies that discrimination in the workplace on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions is illegal.

1982: WLDF launches a powerful public education campaign on wage discrimination, It Pays to be a Man.

1984: WLDF spearheads efforts to overhaul the nation’s federal child support enforcement program.

1985: The Family & Medical Leave Act, written by a WLDF staff attorney, is introduced in Congress. WLDF begins the nine-year fight to enact it.

1988: National child support reforms go into effect, thanks in large part to WLDF’s work.

1991: The Civil Rights Act of 1991 is enacted. The WLDF helped lead the successful effort to pass this critical legislation, which reaffirms that gender discrimination in the workplace is illegal.

1993: WLDF secures enactment of landmark federal legislation that has allowed tens of millions of workers to take time off for medical emergencies, childbirth, or caregiving. President Clinton makes the Family & Medical Leave Act the first bill he signs into law.

1998: WLDF changes its name to the National Partnership for Women & Families, and releases a national survey finding that most Americans believe pressures on working families are getting worse.

1999: The National Partnership launches its Campaign for Family Leave Income.

2002: The National Partnership’s technical assistance and national leadership on work and families issues help California become the first state to pass a comprehensive paid family leave law.

2003: The National Partnership launches Americans for Quality Health Care, a major initiative to improve health care quality and affordability.

2004: The National Partnership launches its Campaign for Paid Sick Days and releases a groundbreaking report on employment discrimination in America today.

2005: The National Partnership leads a successful coalition initiative in support of federal legislation to improve patient safety.

2006: The National Partnership helps local activists in San Francisco secure the first ever paid sick days ordinance in the United States.

2007: The National Partnership’s national leadership and technical assistance on work and families issues help Washington become the second state to pass a paid family leave law.

2008: The National Partnership is instrumental in New Jersey becoming the third state to provide paid leave, and leads the fight to block harmful Bush administration changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act and to regulations affecting women's access to reproductive health services.

2009: National Partnership leadership helps win enactment of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, repeal of the global gag rule, and passage of key health information technology provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

2010: The National Partnership launches the Campaign for Better Care, helps pass a historic health reform law that promotes quality, coordinated care and prohibits punitive, predatory and discriminatory insurance practices, and helps win confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.

2011: The National Partnership helps win paid sick days laws in Seattle and in Connecticut, which becomes the first state to adopt such a measure, and helps convince lawmakers to block numerous extreme anti-choice measures passed by the House. First Lady Michelle Obama is keynote speaker at the Annual Luncheon.

2012: The National Partnership is a powerful force against extremists who wage a war on women's health, fighting back, launching Repro Health Watch and successfully defending health reform. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the Annual Luncheon.

2013: The National Partnership helps win paid sick day laws in Portland Ore., Jersey City, N.J. and New York City. Rhode Island becomes the third state to guarantee paid family leave.

2014: The National Partnership joins forces with Childbirth Connection, now a core program of the organization. California passes the nation's second statewide paid sick days law. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks at the Annual Luncheon.

2015 & Beyond: Together, we'll make America more fair and family friendly and help ensure that everyone has access to quality, affordable health care. Help us get there