How Did the National Women's Conference in Houston in 1977 Shape a Feminist Agenda for the Future?

Abstract

   The National Women's Conference at Houston in November 1977 marked a high point in the influence of second-wave feminist ideas on policy formulation. Congresswomen elected during the wave of 1970s feminism, especially Bella Abzug, obtained the passage of federal legislation that funded the Conference. Grassroots women's organizations met at the state level and adopted a National Plan of Action to improve the lives of women. The Houston Conference subsequently approved the plan. Yet at the same moment these women were able to mobilize and use government to achieve feminist goals, opponents united to fight against feminist causes. Phyllis Schlafly and others attacked the Houston conference and its agenda and created the basis for a new anti-feminist constituency in American public life. This project presents conference documents, including all the individual planks considered at Houston, speeches and debate at the conference, and follow-up evaluations of progress on those planks in 1988 and 1997.

   

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