The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.60/No.7           February 19, 1996 
Affirmative Action Is Main Topic At Feminist Conference  


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Some 3,000 women's rights activists attended the "Feminist Expo 1996 for Women's Empowerment" held February 2-4 at the Sheraton Washington Hotel here. At the center of discussion at this event was organizing to defend affirmative action programs. The gathering was organized by the Feminist Majority Foundation and some 299 other cosponsors, including the National Organization for Women (NOW), National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, Coalition of Labor Union Women, the United States Student Association, and the AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department.

A large number of young women from throughout the country participated in the event, as well as some who were active in the fight for women's rights for decades. Participants came from some 46 states and included 74 campus delegations.

NOW President Patricia Ireland urged participants to attend the April 14 March to Fight the Right to be held in San Francisco. This action demands: No retreat on affirmative action; Fight racism; Protect abortion and reproductive rights; Stop all forms of violence against women; Demand lesbian, gay and bi rights; and End the war on poor women.

According to conference organizers, anti-affirmative action ballot initiatives have been proposed in California, Oregon, Florida, Colorado, Washington, and Illinois. These initiatives would also wipe out sex discrimination laws in those states. Plans were announced for a "Freedom Summer" to mobilize thousands of students to staff phone banks and go door-to-door to help defeat the initiatives.

After the Saturday plenary session, a couple of activists decided to organize a march for the next morning that attracted 500 women to support affirmative action and protest attacks on social programs.

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