What We Do
LEGAL MOMENTUM—The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund
Legal Momentum is the nation’s oldest legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the rights of women and girls. For 45 years, Legal Momentum has made historic and enduring contributions to the rights and opportunities available to women through its advocacy, litigation, and educational initiatives.
Legal Momentum focuses on five priority areas to ensure that its work will advance the economic and personal security of the most vulnerable women, especially poor, immigrant and low-wage working women. Our programs focus on the following:
For over 40 years, Legal Momentum has been leading pioneering initiatives to advance gender equality in the workplace, helping to enact critical legislation and holding employers accountable by enforcing these laws in the courts. Despite this advances, women continue to face widespread discrimination and significant obstacles to achieving fair and equal access to workplace opportunity and economic security. These obstacles are all the more prevalent for low-wage and low income women, women of color, and immigrant women.
Today, women are still more likely to be paid less than men, to live in poverty, to earn a minimum wage, to be victims of sexual harassment or sexual violence in the workplace, to be penalized for having a child, and to be disproportionately tasked with family care responsibilities.
Through litigation, advocacy, and education, Legal Momentum continues to work to reverse these trends to strengthen and expand legal protections for women in the workplace. Our initiatives seek to ensure that ALL women are free from gender discrimination and have an equal opportunity to succeed.
See below for more information regarding our current and past projects.
Women face violence at home, on the street, and in the workplace. Notwithstanding one of Legal Momentum’s signature achievements – passage of the Violence Against Women Act—supportive services, rights and protective measures for victims remain inadequate.
Women continue to face hurdles in school and at work, which can prevent them from attaining economic security and independence. From pre-k to graduate school, girls face discrimination in education—they are steered out of STEM programs, have fewer opportunities in athletics, and face unacceptably high levels of sexual harassment and violence.
Victims of campus sexual assault, in addition to dealing with devastating violations to their bodily integrity and physical safety, too often face disruptions to their education and career, which can result in permanent damage to job prospects, financial security, and lifetime earnings.
In employment, women hold jobs with lower salaries and fewer benefits. They are excluded from male-dominated training programs and professions. Once they are there, they encounter sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, and pregnancy discrimination-all of which prevent them from advancing in the workplace.
Legal Momentum has expertise and resources across a wide range of areas related to discrimination, gender equity, and gender bias. Ranging from sexual and reproductive rights and teen dating violence to gender bias in the courts, Legal Momentum continues to champion the rights of women and girls and to work to eradicate harmful stereotypes and policies shaped by bias while promoting policies and practices that reflect the realities of women’s lives, and advancing their rights under the law.
Human trafficking is the fastest-growing crime globally. In the United States alone, between 100,000 and 300,000 children are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation (being trafficked for sexual purposes) each year (Estes & Weiner, 2001). Young girls, especially girls of color and those who have been victims of sexual abuse, are disproportionately at risk of being trafficked.
Additional Legal Momentum programs that address critical issues.