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Bella Abzug

A formidable leader of the women’s movement, Bella Abzug fought to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and other vital legislation for the rights of women. Early in her career, Abzug earned distinction as one of the few attorneys willing to stand up to the House Un-American Activities Committee. During her three terms in Congress, she advocated for groundbreaking bills including the Equal Rights Amendment and crucial support of Title IX. In 1977, she presided over the historic first National Women’s Conference in Houston. Towards the end of her career, she focused on global issues of women’s rights and human rights, ensuring that those issues were continually addressed by the United Nations. “In a perfectly just republic,” wrote John Kenneth Galbraith in 1984, “Bella Abzug would be president.”

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Abzug at a New York City Rally
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Abzug noted this quick conversation with an elderly woman at the airport in 1971:

"'Well, I want you to know, Mrs. Abzug, that I don't want to be liberated. I like it just the way it is.'
'You do, huh? Do you work?'
'How much do you make?'
'Seventy-five bucks a week.'
'Did a man ever have your job?'
'Do you happen to know how much he made?'
'Yes, come to think of it, I heard he made $10,000 a year.'
'Well, you see, that has something to do with liberation. We think women should get equal pay for equal work. Do you have any kids?'
'Grandchildren - but I take care of them.'
'Are they pre-school age?'
'Do you leave them at a free child care center when you go to work?'
'Are you kidding? I have to pay somebody to watch them.'
'That's another thing women's liberation is all about.'
'Mrs. Abzug,' she said. 'Can I have your telephone number?'"

1. Quote from Bella Abzug, Bella! : Ms. Abzug Goes to Washington, Mel Ziegler, ed (New York :Saturday Review Press, 1972) 275.

Copyright © Diana Mara Henry/

Date of Birth
July 24, 1920
Place of Birth
Bronx, New York
Date of Death
March 31, 1998

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Bella Abzug." (Viewed on November 27, 2015) <>.


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