WHAT WOMEN WANT by Caroline & the Members and Staff of the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year Bird

WHAT WOMEN WANT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In a multi-tiered compendium, Bird et al. rally the casual and serious reader alike to the stir and the promise of the 1977 National Women's Conference in Houston. Its 26-plank National Plan of Action, assembled here with expository Documentation, assumes unusual presence and accessibility in the wake of informal backgrounding and the reflections of delegates and observers. The 17 Personal Statements, plus the comments interspersed throughout the record of Conference-highlights (""Houston Day By Day""), indicate the impact of the Conference as an experience--symbolic in convening at all, special because they shared in it. The emphasis is less on what was accomplished than on how. ""Houston gave all older women a little more stature,"" says one who should know (""I'm 73""). A woman-farmer recalls going home to Minnesota ""with a tremendous sense of responsibility."" Gloria Steinem, introducing the book, cites the thrill of history happening; also, surprisingly, she admits to doubting beforehand that women could work smoothly enough to pull it off at all. The big fear was disruption by the ""antis,"" whose tactics at the preliminary State Meetings alienated the mainstream (like the timid nurse so outraged on hearing Schlafly claim to speak for the Silent Majority that she headed for Houston herself: ""I had to do something to show that she wasn't speaking for me""). Bird writes from the progressive side, but not militantly, and completes her sweep by touching on the mechanics of recruiting a balanced representation and the logistics of platform-compromise among and within caucusing delegate groups. This draws from and expands on The Spirit of Houston (the Official Report to the President, Congress and the People of the United States); dedicated ""To the Women of America,"" it's a firmly grass-rooted approach.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1979
Publisher: Simon & Schuster