Key Events of United States Feminism During the 1960s

Marchers with Women's Liberation banner
Women's Liberation group marches in protest in support of Black Panther Party, New Haven, November, 1969.

David Fenton / Getty Images


  • May 9: The Food and Drug Administration approved the first oral contraceptive, commonly known as "the Pill," for sale as birth control in the United States.


  • November 1: Women Strike for Peace, founded by Bella Abzug and Dagmar Wilson, drew 50,000 women nationwide to protest nuclear weapons and U.S. involvement in war in southeast Asia.
  • December 14: President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order establishing the President's Commission on the Status of Women. He appointed former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to chair the commission.


  • Sherri Finkbine traveled to Sweden for an abortion after learning that Thalidomide, a tranquilizer drug she had taken, caused extensive deformities to the fetus.


  • February 17: The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan was published.
  • May 23: Anne Moody, who later wrote Coming of Age in Mississippi, participated in a Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in.
  • June 10: The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy.
  • June 16: Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in outer space, another Soviet first in the U.S.-U.S.S.R. "space race."


  • U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including the Title VII prohibition of discrimination based on sex by private employers including employment agencies and unions.


  • In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court struck down a law restricting access to contraception for married couples.
  • The Newark Museum exhibit "Women Artists of America: 1707-1964" looked at women's art, often neglected in the art world.
  • Barbara Castle becomes the first UK female minister of state, appointed to become the Minister of Transport.
  • July 2: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began operations.
  • December: Pauli Murray and Mary Eastwood published "Jane Crow and the Law: Sex Discrimination and Title VII" in the George Washington Law Review.


  • The National Organization for Women, known as NOW, was founded.
  • NOW set up task forces to work on key women's issues.
  • Marlo Thomas began starring in the television sitcom That Girl, about a young, independent, single career woman.


  • President Johnson amended Executive Order 11246, which dealt with affirmative action, to include sex discrimination on the list of prohibited employment discrimination.
  • The feminist group New York Radical Women formed in New York City.
  • June: Naomi Weisstein and Heath Booth held a "free school" at the University of Chicago on women's issues. Jo Freeman was among the attendees and was inspired to organize a woman's session at the National Conference of New Politics. A woman's caucus of NCNP formed, and when that was belittled from the floor, a group of women met at Jo Freeman's apartment a group that evolved into the Chicago Women's Liberation Union.
  • Jo Freeman's newsletter "Voice of the women's liberation movement" gave a name to the new movement.
  • August: The National Welfare Rights Organization formed in Washington D.C.


  • NOW formed a special committee to launch a major campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • The Women's Equity Action League broke off from NOW to avoid the "controversial" issues of sexuality, reproductive choice, and the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • The National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) was founded.
  • The National Welfare Rights Organization was founded, with 22,000 members by the next year.
  • Women at the Dagenham (UK) Ford factory stage a strike for equal pay, nearly stopping work at all the UK Ford automobile plants.
  • Women for the first Seattle women's liberation group after a male organizer for SDS at a meeting said that "balling a chick together" enhanced the political consciousness of poor white young men. A woman in the audience had called out, "And what did it do for the consciousness of the chick?"
  • February 23: The EEOC ruled that being female was not a bona fide occupational qualification of being a flight attendant.
  • September 7: The "Miss America Protest" by New York Radical Women at the Miss America pageant brought widespread media attention to women's liberation.


  • The Abortion Counseling Service of Women's Liberation began operating in Chicago under the code name "Jane."
  • The radical feminist group Redstockings began in New York.
  • March 21: Redstockings staged an abortion speakout, insisting that women's voices be heard on the issue instead of only male legislators and nuns.
  • May: NOW activists marched in Washington D.C. for Mother's Day, demanding "Rights, Not Roses."
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Napikoski, Linda. "Key Events of United States Feminism During the 1960s." ThoughtCo, Jul. 31, 2021, Napikoski, Linda. (2021, July 31). Key Events of United States Feminism During the 1960s. Retrieved from Napikoski, Linda. "Key Events of United States Feminism During the 1960s." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).