Mid 1980’s

The October 1984 newsletter included information on recent legislation that affected women.  A short summary detailed the new Retirement Equity Act, which was a key part of the 1983 Economic Equity Act.  The bill expanded private pension coverage for workers and guaranteed pension rights for homemakers whose working spouses die before retirement.  The October newsletter also had an announcement for a seminar sponsored by the Federation of Organizations for Professional Women on “Career Success Skills and Strategies” as well as a course on “Stress Management and Professional Women.”

The Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues newsletter underwent many positive changes in 1985.  From that year onward, the newsletter consistently included additional news articles, reports of recent publications, and announcements of conferences or meetings of interest to CWI members.  This greatly enhanced the value and usefulness of the newsletter.  Members outside of the Washington area commented on the benefit of receiving the newsletter. 

In January 1985, for example, the newsletter summarized an article that many CWI members would have found very pertinent to their daily work.  The article, published in December 1984 in the New York Times, explained the guidelines used to detect patterns of discrimination in employment, and was an important addition to the Clearinghouse newsletter. 

The February 1985 newsletter contained an announcement of the release of a report on women’s mental health by the American Psychological Association Women’s Programs Office, a notice from the Women’s Pension Project seeking women who may have been left out of pension plans, as well as a short message regarding Women’s History Week and activities planned by the Washington DC Commission for Women. 

In the April 1985 issue of the CWI newsletter, Mary O’Connor, the recording secretary, included a section entitled “Bills Introduced in Congress” and described three bills affecting women: a Social Security earnings sharing bill, the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1985, and the reintroduction of the Equal Rights Amendment. 

The monthly publication underwent even more changes in 1986.  The newsletter now regularly included sections for coming events and other publications, helping to keep members informed and connected to other Washington activities and events regarding women’s rights and additional issues of concern. 

On March 9, 1986 many CWI members took part in the National March for Women’s Lives in Washington, DC, spearheaded by the National Organization for Women.  They participated in many other conferences, including the Bureau of National Affairs’ conference on work and family.  The newsletter also occasionally included quick and interesting facts: for instance, the May 1986 issue reported a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics which found that women held 6,938,000 of the 13,847,000 jobs in 50 professional occupations.  However, the story also reminded readers that the wage gap between men and women continued at an astonishing rate as professional men earned $851 per week compared to $419 for professional women.

In 1987, the CWI newsletter chronicled additional news, including an announcement of the new Director of the Women’s Bureau, Shirley Dennis.  She promised to continue advocating for employer-sponsored child care programs, which had been developed under the leadership of future CWI Presisent Ruth Nadel.

One conference in which CWI members took part during 1987 was the Spirit of Houston Tenth Anniversary of the National Women’s Conference: A Decade of Achievement, a meeting to commemorate the groundbreaking 1977 conference and to review progress in implementing the Plan of Action passed by that first national women’s conference. 

The September 1987 newsletter also contained an alert regarding the nomination of Robert Bork to the US Supreme Court.  Bork’s ultra-conservative record and beliefs on civil rights, civil liberties, and women’s rights were considered a serious threat to women and people of color.  According to an analysis of Bork’s record by the National Women’s Law Center which was quoted in the CWI newsletter: “Judge Bork has precluded the application of the two constitutional rights, equal protection and privacy, that have formed the cornerstone of legal protections for women under the Constitution.”  Newsletter editor, Daisy Fields concluded the section on Bork by stating: “If your freedom and existing rights mean anything to you, you will immediately write to every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and voice your opposition” and she provided a list of the members of the committee.  Robert Bork, of course, was eventually defeated, due in large part to concerted efforts by women and the women’s movement.

The last newsletter in 1987 closed with a New Year’s resolution to continue working on the unfinished agenda for women’s issues, including the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and of legislation on non-discrimination in insurance, the Reproductive Health Equity Act and improvement of child care standards.

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