“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.”
~ From the founding document of the National Council of Women of the United States, March 31st, 1888, Washington, D.C.
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/DPI) and has Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).