INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S YEAR, GREATER CLEVELAND CONGRESS, held 25-27 Oct. 1975 at the PUBLIC AUDITORIUM, attracted 45,000-50,000 people. The congress was organized in response to the U.N. General Assembly proclamation designating 1975 as Intl. Women's Year, with the theme "Equality, Development, Peace." The Greater Cleveland Congress was hailed by organizers as the year's "largest and most significant observance . . . in the U. S. and, in fact, the world." Evelyn Bonder, director of PROJECT EVE at CUYAHOGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE initiated the planning in 1974; Gwill York, vice-chair of the distribution committee of the CLEVELAND FOUNDATION, a major congress sponsor, served as chairperson. Contributors included the GEO. GUND FOUNDATION, the JR. LEAGUE, local industry, and individuals.
The free 3-day event included 150 workshops on such topics as women as consumers, women in unions, women as peacemakers, ethnicity, abortion, and rape. There were 250 exhibition booths and addresses by First Lady Betty Ford and Jill Ruckelshaus, chairperson of the Natl. Commission on the Observance of Intl. Women's Year. The event, designed as "apolitical, multi-racial and ecumenical," drew criticism in the local feminist newspaper WHAT SHE WANTS. In a POINT OF VIEW article, Marge Grevatt called it "Feminism for Sale." Nonetheless, the congress produced a number of local resources: the Women's Resource Directory of social-service agencies serving women; a registry of women's organizations; and, most importantly, WOMENSPACE, the women's center developed during the planning stages of the congress and opened on 18 Mar. 1976. On 19 Apr. 1976, a follow-up conference, "The Next Step," held at the Higbee Co. (see DILLARDS DEPARTMENT STORE), attracted about 500 participants.
See also WOMEN.