Women have been "pushed back" during the Reagan years, but feminists in the United States nevertheless keep winning, the president of National Organization for Women said Saturday.
Keynoting the annual Utah State NOW conference in the Marriott Hotel, Molly Yard said the rumors that the women's movement is passe - that women are no longer feminists and are staying home and again having children - is false."No one ever said we couldn't have children and still be feminists," said Yard, who expounded on the progress and success of the movement over the past few years.
It was during Yard's term as president that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Rotary International and similar men's clubs could no longer bar women from becoming members.
She said that just in the past few years the Episcopal Church named its first female dean; San Francisco got its first female city/county attorney; Baltimore hired its first woman firefighter in the 128-year history of the force; and for the first time during its 110-year history, the New York State Bar elected a woman president.
The American Society of Newspaper Editors also selected its first woman president, as did the Vietnam Veterans of America. And many women entered politics, with several being elected mayors of large cities.
"Some of it is a result of work that some of us did 10 years ago, and it's finally coming to fruition and we are seeing the results of what the women's movement has accomplished," said Yard, who's had a half-century of leadership experience as a feminist and civil rights, trade union and political activist.
But the national president told the small Utah gathering that NOW members still have a lot of work to accomplish, including achieving for women equal pay for work of comparable worth.
"There is no shortage of nurses in the United States," she stressed. "There's a shortage of nurses willing to work for the kind of pay and treatment they receive."
Yard, a Pennsylvania resident, reported that funding for a federal fair pay equity study has passed the House of Representatives twice, "but it gets nowhere in the Senate because some of our friends like (Utah GOP Sen. Orrin) Hatch and company."
"Because the federal government is the largest employer of women in the country, it's very important for us to get this bill through," she told the group. "Maybe if you put the pressure on Hatch, he may be persuaded to support it."
NOW members throughout the country this year will also be concentrating their efforts on getting a federally funded child care bill, increasing the national minimum wage and launching an aggressive campaign to re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment, without any deadline attached to its passage, she said.
Those issues, plus lesbian rights, surrogate mothering and AIDS were also discussed by members of the Utah NOW chapter during their daylong meeting.
New officers were also elected. They are Chris Burdick, a Salt Lake attorney, president; Char Roth, a special education teacher, action coordinator; Jane Leen, past Utah NOW coordinator, treasurer; and Mary Eatchel, a banker, secretary.
Awards for "Women of Courageous Action" were presented to Dr. Kristen M. Ries, the leading physician in Utah working with AIDS patients, and Elizabeth Wright, a local writer who has fought for the rights of the Downwinders, people suffering from the impacts of radiation caused by government nuclear testing in the Nevada desert.