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The National Women's Conference, Forty Years Later: Looking Back To Look Forward
2017 is the 40th Anniversary of an extraordinary gathering of America's women, and Houston Women March is honored to help continue the crucial dialogues started at that event. In 1977, women from all walks of life met in each of the 50 states and 6 territories to discuss the issues important to them, the process culminating with 2,000 elected delegates and more than 33,000 observers in Houston for the National Women’s Conference in November.

Forty years later, as we look back to look forward, we have questions. Are the the planks/issues still relevant? Where do women stand today and do we share the same concerns across demographics? Help us understand. Share your voice. Tell us about yourself. What are your top concerns? Are they reflected in the list of planks below or have new concerns emerged? This survey is just the beginning. On November 5, we will look at the survey findings and set new initiatives for the 21st Century at "community dinners" you can host or attend in your home and neighborhood.

Houston Women March is also teaming up with University of Houston to commemorate the 1977 National Women's Conference. For more on this exciting gathering in Houston November 5-7, check out:
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Gender Identity
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The Survey
As a result of the 1977 Women's Conference, twenty-five "planks" were identified as the areas where women most wanted to see action. We have retained the historical language to help illuminate the difference between how people approached issues of equality, justice, freedoms, and personhood then. The historical language is particularly noticeable regarding race, ethnicity, and LGBTQIA. Thank you for raising your voice and sharing your perspective. Your responses will help us build legislation for women and all Americans.
Rate the importance of each plank from 1 to 5 with 1 being very important and 5 less relevant. *
ARTS AND HUMANITIES: The President should take steps to require that women are assured equal opportunities for appointment to managerial and upper level posts in Federally funded cultural institutions and equitable representation on both grant-awarding boards and awards.
BATTERED WOMEN: The President and Congress should declare the elimination of violence in the home to be a national goal. Congress should establish a clearinghouse for services, a mass media campaign to educate the public about domestic violence, provide training related to intervention techniques, effectively enforce laws, expand legal protection and provide funding for shelters.
BUSINESS: The President should issue an Executive order establishing as national policy the integration of female entrepreneurs into business-related government activities and procurement contracts and awards.
CHILD ABUSE: The President and Congress should provide continued funding and support for the prevention and treatment of abused children (pornographic exploitation, sexual abuse, battering and neglect) and their parents including 24-hour protective services, counseling for both victims and abusers, increased public awareness, complete reporting and data collection, and prompt, sensitive attention by police, courts, and social services.
CHILD CARE: The Federal Government should assume a major role in directing and providing comprehensive, voluntary, flexible-hour, bias-free, non-sexist, quality child care and developmental programs available at low-cost, ability-to-pay fee schedules that make these services available to them, regardless of income, and should provide parental participation in their operation.
CREDIT: The Federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 should be vigorously, efficiently, and expeditiously enforced by all Federal agencies in order to eliminate credit discrimination against women.
DISABLED WOMEN: The President, Congress, and State and local governments should rigorously enforce all current legislation that affects the lives of disabled women. Disabled women should have access to education, training, and employment based on their needs and interests rather than on the preconceived notions of others. Congress should enact legislation to remove all work disincentives for all disabled individuals who wish to have paid employment. Medicaid and Medicare should cover all the medical services and supplies that are needed by disabled women.
EDUCATION: The President should direct the vigorous and expeditious enforcement of all laws prohibiting discrimination at all levels of education and oppose any amendments or revisions that would weaken these laws and regulations. Prohibition of discrimination in education; state school systems should move against sex and race stereotyping.
ELECTIVE AND APPOINTIVE OFFICE: The President, Governors, political parties, women’s organizations and foundations should join together in an effort to increase the number of women in office, including judgeships, and policy-making positions, and women should seek elective and appointed office in larger numbers.
EMPLOYMENT: The President and Congress should support a policy of full employment so that all women who are able and willing to work may do so. They should prohibit discrimination, promote equitable representation of women in Federal management positions, prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT: The Equal Rights Amendment should be ratified in all fifty states.
HEALTH: Federal legislation should establish a national health security program. Health coverage should include preventive health services, comprehensive family planning services, reproductive health care, general medical care, home and health support services, and comprehensive mental health services. Congress should expand the Food and Drug administration, increase funding for research related to contraception and risks, funding for drug and alcohol abuse centers, and community-based health facilities to offer low cost reproductive health services.
HOMEMAKERS: The government should recognize that wives are of equal importance to husbands when writing legislation related to division of property, inheritance, and domestic relations.
INSURANCE: Prohibit: denial of coverage for pregnancy and pregnancy related expenses, denial of group disability coverage for normal pregnancy and complications from pregnancy, denial of coverage to newborns from birth, and using sex-based actuarial tables in rate and benefit computation.
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Efforts should be made to appoint more women as Ambassadors and increase women’s participation in foreign policy. Within the U.S. Agency for International Development, high priority should be given to policies designed to promote the integration of women into the development plans for their respective countries.
MEDIA: The media should employ women in all job categories and policy making position. Expand the portrayal of women to include a variety of roles, study the impact of mass media on sex discrimination and sex-role stereotyping in American society. Women’s groups should join the campaign to de-emphasize the exploitation of female bodies and the use of violence against women in the mass media.
MINORITY WOMEN: Government ought to recognize and remedy the double discrimination against minority women. Legislation should combat involuntary sterilization, monolingual education, and high infant mortality rates. Recognizes the intersection of race, class, and sex makes survival extremely hard for minority women.
OFFENDERS: The government ought to reform prisons insofar as to protect female offenders from discrimination in prison. Correctional facilities ought to rehabilitate instead of setting ex-prisoner females up for failure. Offers some alternatives to prisons, such as halfway houses.
OLDER WOMEN: The federal government ought to support measures to ensure that older women can live comfortable, secure lives. Home health, better social services, inexpensive quality health insurance, and subsidized options for continuing education are all included as ways to alleviate the ageism and misogyny elderly women face.
RAPE: The government ought to take more serious efforts to penalize rapists by expanding the definition of rape to include all types of sexual assault and making the evidence requirement match what the requirement is for all other non-sexual crimes.
REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM: The government ought to recognize and comply with the Supreme Court decision to legalize full reproductive freedom and provide family planning options to impoverished women. Abortions, pregnancy, and family planning related care should not be exempt from federal funding.
RURAL WOMEN: The government should establish a federal education program that reaches out to rural women. Rural women are often isolated, poor, and underemployed. A farm wife ought to receive the same benefits as her spouse for her labor.
SEXUAL PREFERENCE: Congress, state, and local governments ought to enact anti-discrimination legislation so that lesbians are given equal opportunities at employment, housing, adoption, child custody, credit, and the military.
STATISTICS: The Office of Management and Budget ought to require all departments to collect statistics and data on how their programs affect women therefore acknowledging the existence of misogyny and how it disadvantages females.
WOMEN, WELFARE AND POVERTY: The federal and state governments ought to recognize that poverty is a women’s issue, since inequality of opportunity contributes to the employment gap, which in turn contributes to higher poverty rates for women.
What legislative planks (concerns) would you add today? Please describe.
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How can women's advocacy groups best support your interests?
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OPTIONAL: Please share your email address if you'd like to receive updates on the results of this survey.
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OPTIONAL: Please share your email address if you'd like to volunteer with women around the country to create new legislation.
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