As we enter the 50th year of the National Partnership, we feel immensely proud of all the progress we’ve achieved. From paid family and medical leave, fair pay, and pregnancy discrimination, to affordable, quality health care, reproductive and maternal health and the imperative of health equity, we’ve played a leading role in advancing economic and health justice for women and families.

— Debra Ness

and the imperative of health equity, we’ve played a leading role in advancing economic and health justice for women and families.

— Debra Ness

50 Years

of progress


Our story begins — a small group of extraordinary women forms the Women's Legal Defense Fund, later called the National Partnership for Women & Families


Our first court victory (college students are allowed to publish an article on abortion rights)


We co-found the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education


Another legal victory (for the first time, sexual harassment is illegal job discrimination)


Thanks in large part to our advocacy, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is enacted, prohibiting workplace discrimination based on pregnancy or childbirth


We establish My Sister's Place, a shelter for domestic violence survivors and their children


Congress approves national child support reforms, thanks in part to our advocacy


We help lead the effort to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which reaffirms that gender discrimination in the workplace is illegal and makes women eligible for damages


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), historic legislation which we draft and lead the 9-year fight to pass, becomes our nation’s first law to help working people balance the dual demands of work and family


We help advocate for the passage of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which protects women and health care providers from violence


We change our name from the Women's Legal Defense Fund to the National Partnership for Women & Families


California becomes the first state to pass paid family leave — and 9 more states (including D.C.) follow in the years to come with our support


San Francisco secures the country's first paid sick days ordinance — and 14 states (including D.C.) and 22 localities follow in the years to come with our support


We advocate successfully for reauthorizes the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), protecting quality health care accessible for millions of children, and we are a driving force behind passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which removes barriers to women pursuing claims for gender-based pay discrimination


Thanks in large part to years of our leadership and advocacy, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) becomes law — ending discrimination against women and ensuring coverage of maternity care, preventive care, contraception, quality care measures, and much more


The Family And Medical insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, legislation we helped develop which would create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program, is introduced in Congress


Thanks in part to our advocacy, Congress lifts the ban on coverage of abortion services for Peace Corps volunteers

Childbirth Connection, which pioneered strategies to improve maternity care quality since 1918, becomes a core program of the National Partnership


Our analysis shows more than 18 million previously uninsured Americans have health coverage thanks to the ACA


The National Defense Authorization Act includes 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal workers for the first time, thanks in large part to our advocacy


Thanks in large part to our advocacy, a bipartisan group of Members approves emergency paid sick days and paid leave for millions of workers, for the first time, as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act


President Biden signs the American Rescue Plan Act, described as the most progressive legislation in U.S. history, and we successfully advocate for key protections to help women and families

Our analysis shows the FMLA has now been used more than 300 million times

and together, our
journey continues...

Aligning our
work with

gender and racial justice

In the summer of 2020, we saw historic racial justice protests around the country and world. They were sparked by the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many other innocent Black people. But they were also fueled by the systemic racism and oppression that has distorted and endangered the lives of Black people for generations.

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and rebuilding for the future

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the Trump administration’s botched response, upended the world. The events of 2020 also deepened and reinforced the shameful disparities that have long defined this country.

View Our Work

health equity and

better reproductive and maternal healthcare

A woman can only determine her destiny if she can first control her reproductive future. Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) have always faced especially steep barriers to quality reproductive care, and they suffer greater health and economic consequences when that need for care is not met.

View Our Work