Washington, D.C. – The National Council of Women’s Organizations announced a completed draft of guiding principles for a National Women’s Equality Act for the 21st Century in preparation for the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. beginning next week. “The best, most meaningful way to celebrate women’s past accomplishments is to make a clear plan for a better future, and that’s what we’ve done,” said Susan Bianchi-Sand, Chair of the Council (110 national women’s organizations representing six million women). “Just as the Declaration of Sentiments coming out of that first conference was a beacon for women’s progress culminating with the right to vote, this new document will become the guiding light for achieving true equality in all areas of our lives.”
The Council plans to present the document for consideration at Forum ’98, A National Dialogue to set priorities for full women’s equity taking place in Rochester, N.Y. July 15-16. Forum ’98 is part of a national commemoration of the 1848 Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention, with celebrations throughout the week, including an appearance by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority, led the drafting of the Women’s Equality Act, working with representatives from member organizations including the American Association of University Women, Black Women’s Agenda, Business and Professional Women U.S.A., Center for Advancement of Public Policy, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, National Committee on Pay Equity, and the National Women’s Political Caucus.
The principles for the National Women’s Equality Act for the 21st Century detail specific advances needed in the areas of education, employment, retirement security, health care, the military, the media, family care responsibilities, and the criminal justice system. The full text will be unveiled at a news conference in Seneca Falls on Friday, July 17, 1998.