POST WRITTEN BY: Alexandra Dorian Lapes (J.D. expected 2018, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University)
Founded in 1966, the National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW is dedicated to protecting and achieving all aspects of social, political, and economic equality for women. With over 550 chapters and hundreds of thousands of members in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, NOW promotes intersectional feminist ideals, facilitates societal change, and eradicates discrimination through extensive lobbying, mass marches, rallies, pickets, and litigation. The organization’s main purpose is to take action to ensure women are full participants in mainstream American society, and have access to all the privileges and responsibilities available to men. The organization’s efforts are particularly relevant in 2017. In light of the current problematic political climate, marginalized women and progress made within the equal opportunity framework are at risk. NOW creates concrete, actionable plans to mobilize feminists and effect change.
The NOW website is extremely comprehensive in content and user engagement. It provides visitors with extensive information about the organization’s history, purpose, initiatives, and exactly how to get involved. It seems at every click of the mouse the visitor is presented with new content. The site is bold, colorful, and inviting. It features information about the various campaigns led by NOW, recent news, the opportunity to pledge, donate, or actively participate in the NOW community.
The website’s homepage features the organization’s latest program, the National Action Program. It includes five campaigns that specifically target issues such as sex abuse, reproductive justice, voting rights, immigrant rights, and ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, including a specific downloadable action toolkit for each campaign. The homepage has links to join NOW and to sign up to receive emails from the organization. Lastly, the homepage contains the organization’s contact information and a search bar for quick and easy topic searches.
However, this site is clearly not meant for the legal researcher because it does not provide actual case law or legal authority. The topic search bar yields only NOW-created content, and depending on the topic, the content can be several years old. If a researcher does not know exactly what search terms to use or what cases to search, then this is not the place to start research. Another potential weakness of the site is that it does not contain a legal advocacy page. A legal advocacy page that explains the law, discusses what claims are generally actionable, and provides a list of potential remedies would be a helpful addition.
The website contains several tabs, located at both the top and bottom of the website to easily navigate from tab to tab. The “Issues” page provides a brief overview of the multi-issue, multi-strategy method that NOW practices in order to take a “holistic approach to women’s rights”. The page then displays an outline and description of the organization’s priorities, which includes links for more information. There is also a drop down search box that can be useful for students, attorneys, and advocates to filter what issues they wish to search. However, the search results produce only NOW-created content and provide mainly blog posts and opinion-based articles rather than legal authority. The “Get Involved” page displays pictures and links for website visitors to become a member, renew, or update their membership, and join NOW’s email list. This page seems somewhat redundant considering the similar links on the homepage.
In addition, the “Media Center” tab contains press releases, current news, photos, and Facebook videos for visitors to view NOW’s activities. The “About” tab provides a detailed description of NOW’s missions and goals, including the organization’s structure, job and internship opportunities, and FAQs. This page is extremely valuable in that it gives the reader a thorough overview of the organization and is particularly helpful for anyone looking to gain a better understanding of what the organization stands for.
The site’s strengths include a well-crafted and user-friendly interface, up-to-date content that is constantly refreshed, and actionable plans and tools for activists. Another strength of the site is the “Now Foundation” tab, which focuses on a broad range of public education and litigation projects. This is particularly relevant to legal researchers.
The site effectively utilizes social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and several email affiliates. Those who are interested can “like,” “follow,” and “share” NOW’s posts and content from any or all of the aforementioned social media platforms. The organization makes a significant effort to generate movement and push its agendas through social media. This is an essential element of the site’s functionality, as it ensures all those interested have ample opportunities to become a member of the resistance and are consistently informed on current issues. Considering how dynamic the website is, it could benefit from an RSS feed; it would be an effective way to compile all the information and various social media platform posts into one comprehensive NOW news feed.
Overall, both the layout and language of the website are clear and informative. Whether for the purpose of general information or activism, the site is navigable and relatable. NOW encourages anyone interested in the feminist movement to take action and create change, and so do I. Visit NOW.org to get started today!