How A Women’s Rights Conference Became Known As ‘The Greatest Consciousness-Raising Event In History

Jul 21, 2017

Cover of 'International Women's Year:The Greatest Consciousness-Raising Event in History,' by Jocelyn Olcott.
Credit Jocelyn Olcott / Oxford University Press - 2017

In 1975 thousands of women from across the world gathered in Mexico City to discuss the state of the feminist movement. The U.N. had declared 1975 “International Women’s Year,” and a governmental conference in Mexico City served as the capstone event. 

Meanwhile, an NGO tribune took place in the city at the same time and drew some of the key leaders in feminism like Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem. The tribune and governmental conference also included women from poorer countries whose views of feminism were often at odds with their American counterparts.

In her new book “International Women’s Year: The Greatest Consciousness-Raising Event in History” (Oxford University Press/2017), scholar Jocelyn Olcott examines the conference and how it shaped feminism in the 1970s.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Olcott about the conference and its legacy. Olcott is also an associate professor of history at Duke University in Durham.