Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Looking Back, Ahead, and Within

Just saw this article in Women's eNews about that National Women's Conference 30th anniversary conference at Hunter that I attended part of the other week. Again, while intentions were good, I found the whole thing kind of depressing, as this account kind of details:

Held at a high point of the women's movement in the United States, Houston '77 marked the only time the federal government ever sponsored a gathering of women for equality. With $5 million in funding from Congress organizers drew more than 20,000, including three first ladies--Rosalynn Carter, Betty Ford and Lady Bird Johnson.

This time only a few politicians made the event.

Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton sent her regrets from her campaign in Iowa.

Media coverage was thin, with most of the coverage going to comedian, television and film star Rosie O'Donnell. And the attention wasn't on what she had to say on the subject of women. It was more about her losing the deal to host a talk show on MSNBC.

Houston '77 served as a beacon that lit up the organized women's movement of its time, and Freedom on Our Terms was designed to rekindle those sparks and galvanize activists across the generations.

"There has to be a re-energizing, a re-igniting between younger women, older women and women in between," conference leader Liz Abzug said as the two-day event wound up. "I want you to spread the word: Feminism is alive and well and moving into the 21st century."

Yeah, well, you already know how I feel about that. (Are you seeing the young women in this picture? Cuz I'm not. Though they were definitely in the audience. Hmmm.)

On the up side, participants agreed to develop a 10-point "feminist action plan" to present to the presidential candidates, who will be asked to commit to implementing it during their first 100 days in office. According to Women's eNews:

Among the issues that could make the top 10 list: elimination of abstinence-only sex education; paid leave for family care; improved child care; ratification of the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; national single-payer health care; reform of the Federal Communications Commission to reverse media consolidation; changes in the tax code to put a value on labor spent for homemaking; and renewal of the fight to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, reintroduced into Congress this year.

All of it sounds pretty good to me, but do young folk know/care about the ERA? Would its passage at this point be a largely symbolic gesture, or would it actually change the quality of young women's lives? I wonder.

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