Bella Abzug, 1920 - 1998
"Concerned about a rising incidence of environmental calamities around the world," Abzug came together with an international group of activists to form WEDO in 1990. That year she was shocked to find that documents for the upcoming United Nations "Earth Summit" made no connection between protecting the planet and empowering women. In response, WEDO created the first World Women's Congress for a Healthy Planet where, in 1991, 1,500 women from 83 developed and developing countries met to create their own agenda. WEDO then organized a strong caucus of women advocates at the Earth Summit itself, successfully ensuring that the official documents included key segments of the women’s agenda.
Demanding that the UN no longer function without "a strong voice for women," WEDO then began organizing the Women’s Caucus and preparing documents for every UN meeting. And while WEDO continued to push for commitments on paper, it also vigilantly monitored governments on their actions. As Abzug often said, "We’ve had a lot of words on equality. Now we want the music, which is action." From the Beijing World Conference on Women to co-sponsoring the First World Conference on Breast Cancer, WEDO, with Bella’s leadership, became a powerful international network, working on both global and grassroots levels to empower women.
- "Concerned about a rising incidence..." quote from Bella Abzug, Undated, Untitled Article for the Latin American Alliance, <http://www.latinsynergy.org/unifem2.htm>.
- "a strong voice for women..." quote and general information from Bella Abzug, "Proposed Text to be Printed in Colloquy Highlights—Women’s Empowerment: the United Nation’s Role, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia Education Fund," in Abzug file at WEDO, 6 May 1995.
- "We’ve had a lot of words on equality. Now want the music, which is action," quoted in "A Battalion of Bellas," New Yorker 4 September 1995 <www.wedo.org>.
For more info see WEDO News and Views vol. 11, no 2 "Special Memorial Issue," June 1998, 2-13.