International Women's Year

June 13, 1975

Report Outline
Status of Women in World Today
Origins of the Feminist Movement
Prospects for Women Internationally
Special Focus

Status of Women in World Today

U.N. Scrutiny of Discrimination Against Women

The condition of women around the world is under scrutiny this year. The United Nations has declared 1975 International Women's Year, and the women's movement hopes that more than mere lip service will be paid to upgrading the status of women throughout the world. “We have it in our power to make this Year a truly valuable and important advance in the position of women in the social, economic, cultural and political process,” said U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim in December 1974, “or, alternatively, merely to make it a ceremonial occasion devoid of practical meaning.”

The United Nations is highlighting the year by sponsoring a world conference on women June 19-July 2, 1975, in Mexico City. It will be the first major inter-governmental meeting ever held that is devoted to the status of women in society. Participating nations will discuss the current roles of women and their involvement in national and international affairs. The delegates will be called on to approve a “World Plan of Action,” outlining objectives and goals for improving the position of women over the next 10 years.

Women are still subject to various forms of discrimination, whether overt or subtle, in nearly every country. Though women make up about half of the world's population, they are vastly underrepresented in public life almost everywhere. Some of the most obvious forms of discrimination can be attributed to religious law and custom. In Saudi Arabia, for example, the religious police have the power to spray women's legs with black paint if they appear in public without the traditional dress. Dr. Promilla Kapur, a specialist in the sociology of women, has written that in a number of Hindu households in India, the birth of a daughter is cause for sorrow, while the birth of a son is cause for much attention and celebration.

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Jul. 05, 1973  Women's Consciousness Raising
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Feb. 20, 1956  Women in Politics
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Civil Rights: Women
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