This is the inside story of the National Women's Conference held in Houston in 1977. Although the federally funded meeting was featured on the cover of Time magazine twice, participant Gloria Steinem now describes it as "the most important event nobody knows about." In fact, the International Women's Year (IWY) Conference was America's most democratic, representative, and inclusive congress of citizens in our history. Conference delegates had been elected by 150,000 women at open meetings in every state and territory where they discussed the range of barriers to women's full equality, debated solutions, and proposed remedies. Anti-feminists also had their say. Despite heated disagreements over issues such as the ERA, abortion, lesbian rights, child care, and other hot topics of the day, the Houston delegates united to approve a National Plan of Action to achieve full equality for all women.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of that unique gathering, the high water mark of the "Second Wave" of American feminism, Shelah Leader and Pat Hyatt draw on their personal files and notes from their days on the staff of the IWY National Commission to share their behind-the-scenes account of how a very diverse group of Republican and Democratic feminists achieved consensus in the face of determined opposition from political and religious conservatives. Since that landmark event, there has been marked progress in many aspects of women's lives, but a number of key goals in the IWY Plan of Action remain unfulfilled. As American politics and popular culture have grown more polarized, sexist, and toxic, it became clear to Leader and Hyatt that they were compelled to share their eyewitness story of "American Women on the Move." The book's final chapter assesses what strides have been made, what's yet undone, and lessons learned.
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About the Author
Shelah Gilbert Leader has a PhD in political science from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Patricia Rusch Hyatt has a degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: How IWY Began
Chapter 2: Bella’s Bill
Chapter 3: Critical Decisions
Chapter 4: The State Meetings
Chapter 5: Countdown to Houston
Chapter 6: The National Women’s Conference
Chapter 7: Media Coverage
Chapter 8: After Houston
Chapter 9: Accomplishments, Unfinished Business, Lessons Learned