Salient. Newspaper of the Victoria University Students' Association. Vol 42 No. 8. April 23 1979
Keep in Quiet
Keep in Quiet
Like any convention it is possible to find aspects to criticise. The most serious criticism of this convention was its lack of orientation towards action. Most of the women who attended the convention were already committed to feminist action, be it in established women's groups in New Zealand, or as individuals. After the government of the country ignored the petition signed by 350,000 people seeking the repeal of the repressive abortion laws, few are interested in electoral lobbying and reform or have much faith in their effectiveness. Yet the workshops dealing with action were all centred around this sort of action. I believe the convention organisers seriously underestimated the women of the convention by not dealing with action in anything other than the most superficial way.
Both guest speakers stressed the need for a united women's movement, but apart from the initial gathering of women from all over New Zealand, the convention organisers seemed to studiously avoid any moves that would enable women to unite in action. In retrospect having an enormous number and diversity of workshops seemed like a device to prevent the women of the convention from banding together to achieve concrete plans of action.
When groups of women did formulate positive platforms for the women's movement and approached the organisers for a hearing they were met with direct rebuttal. One group proposed that the convention issue a public statement to the effect that the women of the convention deplored the existing repressive abortion laws. The organisers rejected this on the grounds that it was convention policy not to make recommendations because they must have the full support of the convention. Of-course it would have been impossible to ascertain support while the women were dispersed on campus, but surely it would have been easy to determine the feeling of the convention at the finale when almost all the women were gathered