Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.


A Different Kind of Reproductive Rights

A Different Kind of Reproductive Rights

More From Aileen

In this video

Hernandez explains how making abortion a key issue in the women’s movement was controversial for women of color and poor women who were dealing with forced sterilization.

Aileen's Biography

Causes of Choice: Coalition for Economic Equity; Black Women Stirring the Waters
Biggest Influence Never Met: Eleanor Roosevelt.
Childhood dream: To be a movie star, sing, and read poetry.
Three adjectives to describe herself:  “Nuts. Fortunately energetic. Inquisitive.”

Aileen Clarke Hernandez has been fighting against discrimination in all of its forms for over six decades. She has been President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Commissioner of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and Founder and President of the consulting firm Hernandez and Associates.
Aileen Clarke was born in Brooklyn in 1926, to a father who made painter’s brushes and a mother who was a homemaker. Clarke excelled in school and attended Howard University, where she was drawn into politics and the NAACP. In 1951, she took an organizing job with the West Coast division of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.
In 1965, she was appointed by Lyndon Johnson to be the only woman on the first established Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Frustrated by her fellow commissioners’ lack of attention to women’s complaints, she became a charter member of the NOW, and became the group’s second President when Betty Friedan stepped down in 1970. Under Hernandez’ guidance, NOW organized the Strike for Equality in 1971, an event that heralded the arrival to national prominence of the women’s movement.
Hernandez is celebrated for having played a key role in ensuring a voice for minorities in the women’s movement. In 1973, she founded the group Black Women Organized for Action. Now in her 80s, she chairs the California Women’s Agenda, a state alliance of over 600 organizations, and is the founder and coordinator of Black Women Stirring the Waters, a discussion group in the San Francisco Bay Area which, in 1998, published a book of essays by forty-four of its members.

Related Videos

Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Our Bodies, Ourselves

The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (now known as Our Bodies Ourselves) is the non-profit responsible for Our Bodies, Ourselves, the revolutionary women's health an...

Megan Smith
Megan Smith
U.S. Chief Technology Officer

Megan Smith is the United States’ third-ever Chief Technology Officer. In that position, she’ll guide the Obama Administration’s information-technology policy and...

Susan Brownmiller
Susan Brownmiller
Author, "Against Our Will"

Susan Brownmiller is an author and feminist activist, best known for her groundbreaking book Against Her Will: Men, Women, and Rape, which helped modernize attitudes towards the ra...

Brenda Butterworth-Carr
Brenda Butterworth-Carr
Commanding Officer, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Brenda Butterworth-Carr's career in law enforcement began in 1987 when she joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a Native Special Constable. After she completed training,...