Eleanor Smeal


Eleanor Smeal has led efforts for the economic, political, and social equality and empowerment of women in the U.S. and worldwide for over three decades. Recognized throughout the nation as a women’s rights leader, Smeal is known as a political analyst, strategist, and grassroots organizer.

Smeal has been at the forefront of almost every major women’s rights victory – from the integration of newspaper help-wanted ads to the passage of landmark legislation, including the Violence Against Women Act and Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. She was also the first to identify the “gender gap” -- the difference in the way women and men vote -- and popularized its usage in election and polling analyses to enhance women’s voting clout.

As President of NOW, Smeal led the drive to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). In 1986, when many said it could not be done, she also led the first national abortion rights march in Washington, DC and was a core organizer for the 2004 march, which drew more than one million people. In 1987, she co-founded the Feminist Majority and has served as President since its inception, leading successful campaigns that included winning FDA approval for mifepristone and ending gender apartheid in Afghanistan.