International Women's Year: The Greatest Consciousness-Raising Event in History
Amid the geopolitical and social turmoil of the 1970s, the United Nations declared 1975 as International Women's Year. The capstone event, a two-week conference in Mexico City, was dubbed by organizers and journalists as "the greatest consciousness-raising event in history." The event drew an all-star cast of characters, including Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, Iranian Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, and US feminist Betty Friedan, as well as a motley array of policymakers, activists, and journalists. International Women's Year, the first book to examine this critical moment in feminist history, starts by exploring how organizers juggled geopolitical rivalries and material constraints amid global political and economic instability. The story then dives into the action in Mexico City, including conflicts over issues ranging from abortion to Zionism. The United Nations provided indispensable infrastructure and support for this encounter, even as it came under fire for its own discriminatory practices. While participants expressed dismay at levels of discord and conflict, Jocelyn Olcott explores how these combative, unanticipated encounters generated the most enduring legacies, including women's networks across the global south, greater attention to the intersectionalities of marginalization, and the arrival of women's micro-credit on the development scene. This watershed moment in transnational feminism, colorfully narrated in International Women's Year, launched a new generation of activist networks that spanned continents, ideologies, and generations.
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24 June activists agenda Archive Ashraf Pahlavi audience Australian Barrios de Chungara Betty Friedan Bucharest Caja Center Chile Chilean concerns consultative committee countries Dahlitz delegation described discrimination Domitila Barrios Echeverría economic ECOSOC El Nacional El Universal Elizabeth Reid Papers equality Excélsior explained feminism feminist folder FRUS funding gender Geneva geopolitical global government conference Helvi Sipilä hojas human rights Hutar Hymer insisted International Women’s IWTC IWY conference journalists July labor leaders lesbian meeting Mexican Mexico City Mildred Mujer NARA NGO committee NGO tribune offered official Ojeda peace Persinger Plan of Action plenary political population proposal representative resolution role Schlesinger Library session sexism social Soviet Third World Tlatelolco UN’s United Nations United Women Universal vote WIDF woman women’s issues Women’s Liberation women’s movement women’s rights women’s status World Conference World Plan Xilonen York Zionism