The first UN world conference on women (1975) as a cold war encounter: Recovering anti-imperialist, non-aligned and socialist genealogies
The essay addresses contemporary discussions on women’s transnationalism and women’s agency by looking at the first conference of the UN Decade for Women held in Mexico City in 1975, and at its specific embedding in Cold War geopolitics. Through an engagement with different feminist and activists voices, and particularly with the less visible anti-imperialist, Non-Aligned and socialist genealogies of women’s activism expressed during the meeting, the essay argues that the paradigm of Western feminist knowledge production needs to be revisited, in order to encompass multiple forms of women’s political agency that are not expressed through the liberal framework of women’s individual autonomy from the state. By juxtaposing Betty Friedan’s and Vida Tomšič’s stances during the Mexico City event, the paper shows that women’s political agency during the Cold War era took different forms, which included both the refusal and the acceptance of women’s activism within existing national and international institutions. Keywords: Mexico City, UN Decade for Women, Cold War, agency, feminism, state socialism, Non-Alignment, Betty Friedan, Vida Tomšič
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