Revisiting the United Nations Decade for Women: Brief Reflections on Feminism, Capitalism and Cold War Politics in the Early Years of the International Women’s Movement

Citation:

Ghodsee, Kristen. 2010. “Revisiting the United Nations Decade for Women: Brief Reflections on Feminism, Capitalism and Cold War Politics in the Early Years of the International Women’s Movement.” Women’s Studies International Forum 33 (1): 3–12. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2009.11.008.

Author: Kristen Ghodsee

Abstract:

Between 1975 and 1985, there were three U.N. conferences on women held in Mexico City, Copenhagen and Nairobi. This article is a brief reflection on the tensions that informed these first 10 years of the international women's movement seen from the point of view of the American women who believed that their leadership of that movement was being challenged by the strident anti-imperialist rhetoric of the Soviet Union and its allies. Soviet support for the international women's conferences was instrumental in forcing otherwise reticent American politicians to take the emerging international women's movement seriously. Fearing that socialist women would hijack the deliberations with their anti-capitalist “peace” agenda, U.S. congressmen became actively involved in constructing a definition of “appropriate” women's issues for the U.S. delegates attending the conferences, laying the bedrock of what would later become the relatively hegemonic, internationalized form of Western feminism that would ironically be exported to Eastern Europe after the collapse of communism in 1989.

Topics: Gender, Women, Justice, Nonviolence, Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes, Rights, Human Rights

Year: 2010

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