Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 35 Number 6. April 11, 1972
Women's Liberation Conference
Women's Liberation Conference
The National Women's Liberation Conference held at Vic over Easter was a greater success than anticipated. On the first day, which was of a teach-in nature, over 400 people attended, of whom only about 70 were men. The eleven talks covered a wide range of aspects of woman's oppression, from the more obvious through to the subtle, all powerful stuff. Particularly provocative were Ngahuia Volkerling on bisexuality and Debbie Jones on living with men. Not as new as these were to many women, were the talks on Abortion (Kay Goodger) and Child Care (Sonya Davies.)
On the second day over 100 women attended and divided into issues workshops in the morning, and area workshops in the afternoon, with resolutions from all these being worked out at the end of the day. The formal resolutions passed by the conference will be published shortly by the Wellington Women's Liberation Movement. Some of the more significant were:
Abortion: The conference called for the repeal of all anti-abortion laws, and decided to support Abortion Action Week, May 1-6, with demonstrations and deucational activities. The conference also called for more realistic sex and contraception education in schools, freely available contraception, and more research into the development of safe effective contraceptives for men and women.
Childcare: Calling for free 24 hour, government-financed, community-controlled childcare centres, the conference recommended that Women's Liberation groups and individuals affiliate to the Child Care Association, and decided to support the organisation's plan for a national petition on the issues.
Equal Pay: Among other things, this workshop called for a set minimum rate for the occupation and equal opportunity, this to be enforced by law; paid maternity leave; and paid leave to care for sick independents. It also decided to put pressure on the Fol to follow up their initial support for the rights of women workers by taking positive action immediately.
Gay Liberation: Recognising individuals' right to choose their own sexuality, the conference resolved to openly support the rights of lesbian women, particularly their right to social respect, rather than tolerance.
Area Workshops: There's not space here to detail all the recommendations of the four workshops, but of particular significance was the establishment of an independent Housewives' Union, to support and further the interests of housewives, and acheive recognition of their economic contribution. An end to role-training in schools was called for by the High School workshop, along with the demand for realistic sex education and contraception education at all levels of the education system.
From the University workshop came the resolution to investigate the possibility of establishing Women's Studies courses in NZ universities, either as papers within established disciplines, or as seperate courses. It was also decided that pressure should be brought to bear to eliminate male bias in teaching - that is, women's contributions to politics, arts and science must be given their full significance in all courses, and women's point of view must be taken into proper account in all evaluative disciplines (for example, sociology, psychology, history, etc.)
The conference also voted to condemn the use of the term "women's lib" in reference to the women's liberation movement, because of its derogatory and flippant connotations.
Free creche facilities were provided, and nearly 50 children were cared for on the first day. The employed attendant was assisted by numbers of enthusiastic men. These children represented 30 or so women who could otherwise have been unable to attend.
The conference did not suffer a financial loss. With some help from Dr Greer's fortuitously-timed visit the conference, with its numbers, enthusiasm, and smooth organisation, has firmly established women's liberation as a serious movement and a force to be reckoned with.