Women’s Liberation in New York

The Personal is Political


On The 50th Anniversary Of National Woman Suffrage, Betty Friedan Spearheaded The Women’s Strike For Equality March

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It was the 50th anniversary of the passage of woman suffrage, and the Women’s Strike for Equality March, led by the National Organization for Women, was calling for new rights: free childcare, equal opportunities in education and employment, and access to abortion. Among the activists who spoke alongside Millett were Betty Friedan, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Bella Abzug.

In 1968 The New York Times Magazine published an article coining the term “the Second Feminist Wave.” While women in the 1960s and ’70s often invoked the “first-wave” suffrage generation, they also built on the continuous work of inter-generational New York activists. The women’s movement had long roots, but by 1970 it had arrived.

New York became the organizational and intellectual center of the new women’s liberation movement. New Yorker Carol Hanisch had coined the phrase “the personal is political” in 1968, and the women’s movement increasingly addressed issues of sexual politics, motherhood and marriage, and intersectional identity, along with causes such as equality under the law, financial independence, and gender parity.

The participants’ diverse identities, goals, and anger over their treatment as women sometimes produced conflict and dissent, but they also created a more multifaceted women’s movement than is often remembered—one that has paved the way for the surge in women’s activism today.

Key Events

Global Year    Local
  1917 New York women win the right to vote; the 19th Amendment enfranchises women nationally three years later, but certain state and federal laws block many women of color from the polls
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the first oral contraceptive, Enovid 1960  
The President’s Commission on the Status of Women, led by Eleanor Roosevelt, releases its first report; Congress passes the Civil Rights Act, which prohibitions discrimination in employment based on race, color, national origin, religion, and sex 1963  
National Organization for Women founded 1966  
  1970 Women’s Equality Day march in New York City
The Supreme Court establishes the right to abortion in Roe v. Wade 1973  
The Equal Rights Amendment fails to be ratified 1982  
  2017 Women’s March in Washington, DC, New York City, and across the country
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