National Women's Conference

From November 18-21, 1977, more than 20,000 people gathered in Houston for the National Women’s Conference. The primary goal of the conference was to create a national plan of action to achieve gender equality. The pre-conference state conventions, attended by 130,000 people, elected 2,005 delegates to participate in the National Conference and established 26 planks for consideration, including resolutions on abortion, lesbian rights, minority rights, education, rape, health care, and the Equal Rights Amendment. Conference delegates passed 18 planks, with heated debate on topics such as abortion and lesbian rights. The conference also attracted anti-feminist protesters such as Phyllis Schlafly, who attacked the women’s movement and the conference as “anti-family.” In March 1978, the National Plan of Action approved by the conference was submitted to Congress and President Jimmy Carter, who in response established the National Advisory Committee for Women. The conference succeeded in increasing U.S. women’s political activism and expanding dialogue on women’s rights.