Beginnings of the Wisconsin Women’s Network

The Wisconsin Women's Network grew out of the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women, which was created in 1964. The Network founders made permanent what had been an informal ad hoc coalition working on a variety of issues. The result is a broad-based coalition of women’s organizations, labor unions, religious and educational groups, providers of human services, and business associations furthering understanding of women’s issues.

The Wisconsin Women’s Network agenda is based on the principles articulated in Wisconsin Women and the National Plan of Action, resolutions adopted in 1977 at the Wisconsin State Meeting and the first National Women’s Conference in Houston.

For more information on our roots, check out our Original Founders

National Women’s Conferences, 1977 and 1997

WWN members Connie Threinen and Sunshine Hedlund offer their perspectives on the 1977 National Women’s Conference and the 20th Anniversary Conference in 1997 respectively in these [two articles first published in the March 2001 issue of the Wisconsin Women’s Network’s newsletter, The Stateswoman.]

From Wisconsin Women & the National Plan of Action: “The Houston conference, held in November 1977, was seen as a “coming of age” of the American women’s movement. The historic meeting was mandated by a 1975 Act of Congress which directed the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year to convene it.

“The 1,442 delegates, elected from 56 states and territories, who attended the conference were asked to identify the barriers that prevent women from participating fully and equally in all aspects of national life, to develop recommendations on how to remove those barriers and to establish a timetable for achieving those goals. Roughly 130,000 women participated in making those decisions in state meetings leading up to the national conference.”

“Wisconsin is particularly proud to have had the chair of its Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women, Dr. Kathryn Clarenbach, appointed as the deputy director of the office of the National Commission which organized the conference.”

The National Plan of Action consists of 25 resolutions that resulted from this meeting, and are the principles upon which the Wisconsin Women’s Network was founded.

Visit the web site of the National Women’s History Project for more about women’s history.

National Plan of Action from the 1977 National Women’s Conference

Wisconsin Women’s Network was founded in 1979 to continue the work of the 1977 National Women’s Conference. Today, although the language may have changed, we are still guided by the original National Plan of Action and are involved in activism related to the twenty-five issues set forth.

Arts and Humanities
Battered Women
Child Abuse
Child Care
Disabled Women
Elective and Appointed Office
Equal Rights Amendment
International Affairs
Minority Women
Older Women
Reproductive Freedom
Rural Women
Sexual Preference
Women, Welfare, and Poverty

The History of the Wisconsin Women’s Movement

by Kathryn F. Clarenbach
Chair: Women’s Education Resources University of Wisconsin - Extension and Chair: Governor’s Commission of the Status of Women May, 1977

Part 1: 1962-1977
Introduction | 1960’s | 1970’s

Part 2: 1977-2000
Introduction | 1977-1983 | 1984-2000