Year Of The Women

Women have been elected to Congress today in record numbers, including Lizzie Pannill Fletcher and Sylvia Garcia from Houston. I feel inspired and hopeful that these empowered women will influence our government policies and our country with wisdom and compassion. I am grateful to these women for stepping forward to serve, and to all those men and women who worked so hard to get them elected.

IWY Conference 1977 Houston

IWY Conference - Houston - November, 1977

Forty-one years ago this month I photographed the Year of the Woman Conference in Houston. 25,000 women gathered to collectively craft a vision of a world where the needs of all would be met - including women, children, minorities, the elderly, the disabled. Delegates worked tirelessly to create policy recommendations that addressed reproductive rights, child care funding, sexual orientation, education reform, environmental protection, nuclear disarmament, and the Equal Rights Amendment. Photo © Janice Rubin

Billie Jean King joins the runners relaying the the torch, which had been lit in Seneca Falls, New York, site of the first women's rights convention held on July 19, 1848. It was carried by a relay of runners the 2,600 miles to Houston, arriving the day before the conference began. Thousands of cheering women lined the streets of downtown Houston.  Photo © Janice Rubin

Billie Jean King joins the runners relaying the the torch, which had been lit in Seneca Falls, New York, site of the first women's rights convention held on July 19, 1848. It was carried by a relay of runners the 2,600 miles to Houston, arriving the day before the conference began. Thousands of cheering women lined the streets of downtown Houston.

Photo © Janice Rubin

Inside the Convention Center, delegates worked together, night and day, to produce a National Plan of Action that included 26 planks to address new policies to improve the living conditions of women in American society. Women cheered as the resolutions were read on the convention floor.  Photo © Janice Rubin

Inside the Convention Center, delegates worked together, night and day, to produce a National Plan of Action that included 26 planks to address new policies to improve the living conditions of women in American society. Women cheered as the resolutions were read on the convention floor.

Photo © Janice Rubin

Houston, 1977 - Outside the Convention Center, large groups demonstrated in support of the rights of immigrants a undocumented workers, who were being exploited and used as a political tool. Ray Marshall, US Secretary of Labor warned in 1977, with regard to discussion of immigration policy, “there's the danger that some demagogue will feed popular fears.”

Houston, 1977 - Outside the Convention Center, large groups demonstrated in support of the rights of immigrants a undocumented workers, who were being exploited and used as a political tool. Ray Marshall, US Secretary of Labor warned in 1977, with regard to discussion of immigration policy, “there's the danger that some demagogue will feed popular fears.”

Counter Rally 1977  - Across town, Phyllis Schlafly, gathered almost 15,000 at a counter-conference in which they vowed to uphold traditional pro-family values, using fear of change in a message that resonated with conservatives. Outside and inside the Astrohall, women, young and old, carried signs with racist, anti-Semitic, and hate-filled slogans.  Photo© Janice Rubin

Counter Rally 1977 - Across town, Phyllis Schlafly, gathered almost 15,000 at a counter-conference in which they vowed to uphold traditional pro-family values, using fear of change in a message that resonated with conservatives. Outside and inside the Astrohall, women, young and old, carried signs with racist, anti-Semitic, and hate-filled slogans.

Photo© Janice Rubin

Coretta Scott King reads a resolution that addresses the needs of minority women. Maxine Waters, who spent three days and nights together crafting the document with hundreds of other women said that when the resolution was read “Everyone joined in singing 'We Shall Overcome' and women were crying and hugging each other. “  Photo © Janice Rubin

Coretta Scott King reads a resolution that addresses the needs of minority women. Maxine Waters, who spent three days and nights together crafting the document with hundreds of other women said that when the resolution was read “Everyone joined in singing 'We Shall Overcome' and women were crying and hugging each other. “

Photo © Janice Rubin

The Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by both Houses of Congress in 1972, and was eventually ratified by 37 states. However, 13 states refused to ratify. Only one more state would have been needed to make the 38 states (three-fourth’s) required to make the law designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. Many states have since created their own laws providing equal protection.

My grandmother told me how overjoyed she was when women first received the the right to vote in 1920. Now almost 99 years since women began to vote, 99 women will be heading to Washington to represent us. Today’s success by women being elected to Congress is the next step in the transformation of our country into a more fair and just nation where all are respected.