‘Women are a colonised sex’

Here is an interesting article about the Women’s Liberation Movement; however we should not forget that International Women’s Day (IWD) was born from the working class movement.

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‘Bread and Roses’ Lawrence Textile Strike in the USA.


Australian Elizabeth Reid’s speech at the first United Nations’ (UN) Conference for International Women’s Year (IWY), held from 19 June to 2 July 1975, in Mexico City, was notably out of character with the gathering at large. For one, Reid’s forceful attitude and radical politics stood out markedly from other heads of delegation, tasked with presenting their nations in the best possible light. Declaring that ‘women are a colonised sex’, Reid called for the term sexism to be classified alongside racism as equally injurious to global politics. ‘We must cease being afraid of these words’, she remarked, before declaring that the conference’s stated theme of ‘equality’ was a ‘limited and possible harmful goal’.

abortion picket
In 2018, abortion is still a crime in Queensland.

While gaining significant publicity, Reid’s impassioned speech made little difference to the conference’s preordained outcomes. Sexism was not to appear in the conference’s declaration, written months in advance, and was to be only a footnote in that presented to the second conference, held in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1980.2 However, it was one of the opening salvos in a long struggle to fundamentally transform the UN’s human rights program, cemented in 1995 when American First Lady Hillary Clinton declared ‘human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights’ at the Fourth World Congress on Women in Beijing, China.

TO read more go to “‘Women are a colonised sex’: Elizabeth Reid, Human Rights and International Women’s Year 1975” by Jon Piccini.

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