The National Order of Women Legislators

The National Order of Women Legislators was founded in 1938 and is a non-partisan organization whose membership is made up of women serving as current state legislators and former state legislators. Today, there are over 1600 women state legislators nationwide.

What is the difference between the Foundation and the Order?

The Order The Foundation
Membership All current and former women legislators. All members of the Order; Honorary Members of Congress; Corporate supporters; Individuals.
Legal Status An unincorporated membership organization. A 501 c3 tax-exempt, non-partisan organization.
Financial Status Solely a membership entity; receives membership dues and pays for newsletter. A charitable organization able to solicit and receive donations, either contracts, and manage funds.
Responsibilities to Others Provide legislative leaders to serve on the Foundation Board of Directors. Provide educational programs to Order members.
Date of Establishment 1938 1983

What is the mission of the Order?

The mission of the Order is to encourage greater participation of women in establishing public policy and to encourage election and/or appointment of women in public office.

How is the mission carried out?

  • By providing opportunities for women to prepare for running and winning elections to state legislatures.
  • By equipping women for leadership by providing timely and extensive legislative information, which will enable them to make informed decisions.
  • By providing opportunities to network with women legislators nationwide.
  • By helping prepare women legislators to move up the political ladder.
  • By fostering relationships with congressional members as well as women leaders in other areas.

How is the Order funded?

Membership dues support the National Order of Women Legislators. The Foundation is supported through corporate underwriting of programs which include the Annual Conference, Women Lawmaker's Day, Campaign College and other programming.

What are some of the programs?

  1. Leadership Training and Leadership Development (one of the strongest partners is the Gallup Leadership Institute).
  2. Campaign Colleges prepare incumbent women to be re-elected to office by providing information on fund-raising, message development, working with the media, etc.
  3. Women Lawmakers Day provides an opportunity for women lawmakers to receive briefings by Cabinet Members and White House personnel and other Washington D.C. VIP's.
  4. have taken steps to highlight the efforts of women and girls are recognized by mainstreaming
  5. Annual Conference - Model legislation and ideas on current policy issues are discussed. Many workshops and opportunities for personal and professional development as well as networking are available.
  6. College scholarships for deserving young women interested in public service.
  7. Scholarships for legislators who might not be able to afford to attend the programs and conferences.
  8. Annual Silent Auction - from which all proceeds go toward scholarships.

Why is there a need for the Order?

There are issues and challenges, which are unique to women legislators. Women are fifty percent of the population, but make up only 21%* of state legislators nationwide.

Additionally, the Order provides an atmosphere for women to examine issues in a "safe environment." Women legislators have an opportunity to share information on issues such as balancing family and elected office. This is important as many women find themselves as primary care givers not only for children, but aging parents.

If women are to increase their numbers in statewide office and in Congress, we must increase the number of women state legislators, as this is the source for most statewide office holders and Congressional office holders.

Is there a role for male legislators?

Many male legislators are sustaining (non-voting) members and many avail themselves of the Annual Conference, International Programs, Women Lawmakers Networking Day, Leadership Training as well as participating in the Campaign College.

*The percent changes from election to election.