Vol. 2, No. 1
January 2015


2015 Marks Forty Years of United Nations Work  

toward Women's Equality

Forty years ago, the United Nations proclaimed the year 1975 International Women's Year. What followed was the world's first conference exclusively on women's issues, held in Mexico City in June and July 1975. The conference included a Declaration on the Equality of Women that began with the following principle:


"[The]problems of women, who constitute half of the world's population, are the problems of society as a whole, and that changes in the present economic, political, and social situation of women must become an integral part of efforts to transform the structures and attitudes that hinder the genuine satisfaction of their needs."


The convention sought to create an international community that would take pride in equality among people of both sexes. In its introduction, the UN predicted tremendous growth and progress, saying, "History has attested to the active role which women played, together with men, in accelerating the material and spiritual progress and in the process of the progressive renewal of society; in our times, women's role will increasingly emerge as a powerful revolutionary social force."


Two subsequent conferences were held in 1980 and 1985, in Copenhagen and Nairobi, and a fourth in Beijing in 1995. The fourth conference, now 20 years ago, drew a crowd of 17,000 participants and 30,000 activists, and introduced the Declaration and the Platform for Action, an agenda adopted by 189 countries. The twelve point agenda included points for the improvement of women's lives, from poverty, to portrayal in media, to economic empowerment.


The Declaration has undergone review sessions every five years since its introduction. This year, it will once again undergo review at Beijing+20, the session held for the twenty-year anniversary of its inception. Though women's rights have come a long way in the 40 years since International Women's Year, the UN proposes to renew and strengthen interest in the Declaration and women's issues worldwide. With some hard work, 2015 may be another year worthy of the name "women's year."


Mother Jones Museum to Be Built in Mt. Olive, Illinois

Mother Jones, the most well-known labor organizer of the early twentieth century, who was called the "Most Dangerous Woman in America" in 1902 by the U.S. Attorney General, will finally have a museum dedicated to her life and struggles for the working class. The museum will be in the Mt. Olive Town Hall in downstate Illinois, just off of Interstate 55.


Mother Jones chose to be buried and memorialized in Mt. Olive, alongside workers she argued had "died for industrial liberty" and contributed to Illinois becoming "the best labor state in the nation." The museum will be anchored by the Historic Mother Jones Monument and the Union Miners Cemetery where she is buried. It will include participatory exhibits and be connected by Route 66 bike and auto trails, which will focus on historical marches and the coal towns of Mt. Olive, Staunton, Gillespie, Carlinville, Girard and Virden, each with their own dramatic stories and participatory opportunities that illustrate the struggle for voice and roles of immigrant families including activist women.


The Town Hall and museum room has been funded by an Illinois State Grant and will open in June 2015. A small preliminary exhibit will be ready for the opening. Fundraising is under way to raise money for the exhibits. The WWHP is hosting a Benefit for the museum on March 28, 2015 at the Irish American Heritage Center.


Introducing Tracy Walsh

In October, WWHP announced that it had formed a partnership with Lookingglass Theatre's Civic Practice Lab. As part of its plan to create plays using the material from our Child Care in Chicago project to be performed by Lookingglass' Young Ensemble this May, Lookingglass selected playwright Tracy Walsh to write and direct the plays. Without further pause, WWHP is proud to introduce Tracy Walsh.


Tracy Walsh is an ensemble member at Lookingglass Theatre Company where she has written, directed, choreographed and acted in many plays. She also frequently works with the Lookingglass Young Ensemble. Tracy most recently appeared in and choreographed Iphigenia in Aulis at Court Theatre. She and her husband own Lighthouse Yoga in Evanston where she teaches prenatal yoga and yoga for children and adults with special needs.


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