Conference: 1977-2017: The IWY National Women’s Conference in retrospect

Event Date: November 5, 2017 to November 7, 2017

Conference: 1977-2017: The IWY National Women’s Conference in retrospect

5-7 November 2017, University of Houston, Texas

This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the 1977 National Women’s Conference, the domestic answer to the United Nations’ International Women’s Year initiative.  The Houston Conference, as it came to be known, was the largest federally mandated gathering of American women in history.  On this occasion, 2000 delegates elected from fifty states and six territories and roughly 16,000 observers came together to craft a twenty-six plank National Plan of Action, submitted to President Jimmy Carter in 1978.  The conference remains one of the most imaginative and wide-ranging exercises in civic engagement realized in the twentieth century, and we seek to draw attention to the diversity, ingenuity, and determination of participants who dared to dream up concrete policy goals of “what women want.”  The recent global response to the Women’s March on Washington suggests just how much the issues debated at the Houston Conference still resonate.

During a three day conference, November 5-7, we aim to take stock of this momentous feat as well as consider the separate concerns articulated at a “pro-family” counter-convention held in Houston simultaneously.  A scholarly academic symposium will coincide with a delegate and observer reunion. Commemorative activities will occur simultaneous to academic sessions and begin the prior weekend. In holding two events at once, we seek a cross-pollination of ideas and action, bringing together academics and activists, current and lifetime students and teachers, and those that remember being there alongside those who seek to carry the torch forward. [more]