International Women's Year

Stamps of the German Democratic Republic: Women of different nations, Logo of the UN

International Women's Year (IWY) was the name given to 1975 by the United Nations. Since that year March 8 has been celebrated as International Women's Day,[1] and the United Nations Decade for Women, from 1976–1985, was also established.[2]


The first World Conference on Women was held in Mexico City from June 19–2 July.[2] The 1975 conference and IWY were part of a larger United Nations program which developed over the Decade of Women (1976–85), and included the drafting and of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),[3] agreed at the second conference in 1980 in Copenhagen. The 1985 third conference in Nairobi, Kenya not only closed the decade of women, but set a series of member state schedules for removal of legislated gender discrimination in national laws by the year 2000. The 1973-5 planning of the IWY, led by Assistant Secretary General for Social and Humanitarian Affairs Helvi Sipila was very much influenced by the rise of Second Wave Feminist movements throughout the developed world in the early 1970s. Delegates sought to deepen these advances in legal recognition of female equality and bring them to the developing world, and promote the role of women as an aid for economic development.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

The 1975 Mexico City Conference was attended by over a thousand delegates. Prominent attendees included:

An International Women's Year Tribune was also organised and attended by 4,000 women in 1975.[2]

Zionism controversy

The 1975 conference was also notable for passing the first "Zionism is racism" resolution passed at any UN-sponsored forum, thus preparing the way for United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 in 1975 the following November.[12][13]

A statement equating Zionism with racism was also included in an annex to a report to be considered at the final conference of the United Nations Decade for Women in 1985 in Nairobi, Kenya.[14] However, as stated in It Takes a Dream: The Story of Hadassah (1997), by Marlin Levin, "Bernice asked [President Ronald] Reagan to publicly repudiate the U.N. resolution. He agreed and promised that the U.S. delegation would walk out of Nairobi if the Zionism-equals-racism resolution was included in the final conference declaration."[14] Tannenbaum also convinced the United States Senate to condemn the conference resolution and demand its withdrawal.[14] She also personally flew to Kenya with a draft of the Senate resolution, where Maureen Reagan, President Reagan's daughter and the head of the American delegation, repeated the president’s promise to withdraw from the conference if the resolution was included in the final conference delegation.[14] Kenya then brokered a compromise in which Zionism was omitted from the final conference report.[14]


United States of America


As a result of the international focus on Women in 1975, a number of institutions were established:


The IWY also launched the "dove" emblem used by the IWY, CEDAW, and UNIFIL. A stylized dove intersected by a female symbol and an equal sign, the emblem was donated by then 27-year-old New York City advertising company graphic designer Valerie Pettis. It remains the official symbol of UN Women[20] and is used in International Women's Day celebrations to this day.[3][4][21][22]

See also


  1. International Women's Day
  2. 1 2 3 "1st World Conference on Women, Mexico 1975". Choike, Third World Institute. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  3. 1 2 U.N. Wants It to Be More Than a 'Ladies' Meeting' KATHLEEN TELTSCH, The New York Times, 10 May 1974.
  4. 1 2 Dangers on the Road to Complete Emancipation. Allison Dowie, Glasgow Herald, 22 October 1974.
  5. Arvonne S. Fraser. Becoming Human: The Origins and Development of Women's Human Rights. Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 4 (November, 1999), pp. 853–906.
  6. WOMEN ON THE MOVE: Message from the Secretary-General, Gertrude Mongella, Secretariat of the Fourth World Conference on Women. United Nations. March 1994/No. 1.
  7. Implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women. United Nations General Assembly. A/RES/40/108, 13 December 1985, 116th plenary meeting.
  8. Mary K. Meyer, Elisabeth Prügl. Gender politics in global governance. Rowman & Littlefield, 1999 ISBN 978-0-8476-9161-6, pp. 178–181.
  9. Anne Winslow. Women, politics, and the United Nations Volume 151 of Contributions in women's studies. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995 ISBN 978-0-313-29522-5, pp. 29–43.
  10. Chadwick F. Alger. The future of the United Nations system: potential for the twenty-first century. United Nations University Press, 1998 ISBN 978-92-808-0973-2, pp. 252–254.
  11. 1 2 "International Women's Year, 1975". National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on June 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  12. Text of resolution 3379:
    TAKING NOTE of the Declaration of Mexico on the Equality of Women and Their Contribution to Development and Peace 1975, proclaimed by the World Conference of the International Women's Year, held at Mexico City from 19 June to 2 July 1975, which promulgated the principle that "international co-operation and peace require the achievement of national liberation and independence, the elimination of colonialism and neo-colonialism, foreign occupation, Zionism, apartheid and racial discrimina as the recognition of the dignity of peoples and their right to self-determination".;
  14. 1 2 3 4 5
  15. Marian Sawer (29 September 2006). "Red, White and Blue, What Do They Mean to You? The Significance of Political Colours". Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  16. "Forum 1975". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  17. "INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S YEAR, GREATER CLEVELAND CONGRESS". Case Western Reserve University. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  18. "International Women's Year Conference Records". Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  19. "Women's Movement page 6". SM Memory, State Library of South Australia. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  20. [ Graphic Standards]. UNIFEM Headquarters, United Nations Secretariat document, New York.
  21. Dangers on the road to complete emancipation. The Glasgow Herald. 22. October 1974.
  22. Dove Symbol for Women. Associated Press, The Calgary Herald. 10. May 1974.

External links

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