The History of the Worldwide Organization for Women
In 1977, a response to the United Nations Decade for Woman, 1976-1985, the United States Congress authorized each State of the Union to 0rganize a conference to discuss women’s issues, recognize women’s achievements and contributions, develop a State Plan of Action, and elect 14 delegates to attend the National Women’s Conference, the culminating national event to be held in Houston Texas that November, which elected delegates from each State would attend. Utah’s Conference, “The Voice of Womankind,” was held on June 24-25, 1977 at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City with over 10,000 men and women in attendance. The Utah conference was one of the largest in the nation in attendance. Utah’s elected delegation reflected its citizen’s traditional values, but the National Committee decided it was not diverse enough. They appointed an equal number of women with opposing views–mainly women who supported the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), abortion on demand, and gender equity. This unelected delegation essentially canceled Utah’s vote.
In response to the national committee appointing unelected officials, the Utah Association of Women (UAW) was formally organized and the Articles of Incorporation were filed and accepted by the State of Utah November 4, 1977. Nina Palmer was elected as the first president of The Utah Association of Women. A rally was organized in support of their elected delegation for the Houston Conference. On November 5, 1977 the committee held a press conference in the Governor’s Board Room at the State Capital to announce the formation of the new organization, The Utah Association of Women. Governor Scott M. Matheson sent a letter of congratulations on the establishment of the new organization of women and sent his support for the rally. After the Utah delegates returned from the IWY (International Women’s Year) Conference in Houston, Texas, five of the elected delegates joined the other six board members of the UAW (Utah Association of Women).
Bylaws were written and approved on December 9, 1977. Small groups were assisted in organizing throughout the State of Utah. The Executive Board of the UAW identified the following as their Aims and Objectives: “The Utah Association of Women is dedicated to promote the exchange of ideas; to foster research and study of issues, rights, political activity, education, etc., and to encourage all women to become involved in political and civic events, if only to educate themselves in such matters. We would hope that through this organization, women will more objectively act rather than react.” “In essence, we would like to be a part of the solutions to problems facing women today, and at the same time, preserve our quality of life by supporting traditional family ideals.” 1978
- The UAW became a member in The National Council of Women of the United States, Inc. as well as the International Council of Women
- An application was made to the IRS for 501 (c) (3) Tax Exempt status, and a temporary foundation status was given.
- The First Annual Membership Meeting was held in the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah in April . Approximately 3,000 women, who were members of UAW, attended. It was not opened to the public. At that time, Resolutions were passed on the following:
Equal Rights Amendment. The UAW opposes the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment…but is for the rights of women and for their full and equitable participation in family, community and national life…and support additional legislative changes to eliminate any remaining discrimination and to secure advancement opportunities for women…believing that these changes can best be accomplished under existing constitutional and statutory provisions. The Family. Whereas…moral awareness and development of character and a sense of identity, dignity and responsibility is formed in family life; a successful home is the most basic building block of all civilized society; …significant social problems…stem from family disintegration; be it resolved that UAW will…understand and determine issues before society that affect the family…will support recommendations and provide protection for the integrity of the family unit and promote responsibility and respect of family members for each other. Abortion/Teen-age Pregnancy: Life is sacred and the power to beget life is a sacred trust…UAW opposes abortion on demand and supports existing and proposed Federal and State Legislation which forbids the use of Public Funds for Abortion…and supports educational programs in pre-natal education and preparing for responsible parenthood…that teach moral sexual behavior. There were also resolutions on the following: Pornography, Media, Child Development, Law and Order, Child Abuse, and on the Board of Education.
- UAW began publishing “Women’s Voice” a newsletter
- Interstate regions and chapters were organized
- The goal of collecting 40,000 signatures opposing the extension of the Equal Rights Amendment was achieved
- The Second Annual Meeting of UAW was held at Skyline High School in Salt Lake City. An Annual Meeting was held each year from then on.
- At the end of 1979, after serving for two years as president, helping to lay the foundation for UAW, and needing to attend to her own family’s needs, Nina Palmer retired from the office of president and from the Board of Directors and Dixie Nelson was elected the second president.
- The Equal Rights Amendment did not pass, even with an extension of time given by the U. S. Congress.
- During the next 17 years, the UAW continued to grow and flourish with many conferences, projects and activities that carried out its purpose to strengthen the many roles of strong and healthy families.
- The political atmosphere changed again, and we found that Bella Abzug and her organization Women’s Environmental and Development Organization (WEDO) had taken their agenda to the United Nations since they had failed to pass the E.R.A.
- UAW became aware that three International Women’s Conference’s had been held and that the fourth was soon to be held in Beijing, China. It was determined that the Utah Association of Women would also attend, which representatives did.
Members of UAW found while there that great inroads had been made internationally at the United Nations Conferences by women (feminists) seeking approval of their radical social agenda. This included the universal right to an abortion and gay rights, and wording for such was being written and considered in UN documents, such as treaties.
- UAW participated in the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Istanbul, Turkey from May 31-June 14, 1996.
- After this conference, UAW decided to change their name to the Worldwide Organization for Women (W.O.W.) to acknowledge that problems were not just in the State of Utah, but internationally as well.
- WOW then began to attend International UN Conferences from that time on.
- In March 1997 Nina Palmer was elected President once more and held that position for 4 two-year terms (8 years).
- WOW joined the World Movement of Mothers (Mouvement Mondial des Meres) based in Paris, France.
- WOW’s 14 positions were developed– which were to be the basis for their work internationally.
- UAW was represented at the UN Preparatory Committee Meetings of the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, New York City.
- UAW was represented at the FOA Preparatory Committee Meeting of the UN World Food Summit of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome, Italy.
- UAW was represented at the Centennial Summit for Utah Women held at the State Capitol Building and sponsored by the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women and Families, and Women for the Twenty-First Century (a new bi-partisan political organization).
- Re-organizational planning meeting of UAW, Salt Lake City, Utah.
- 1st Annual Meeting of the Worldwide Organization for Women (WOW)—our new name, held at the Salt Lake Community College, Salt Lake City, Utah. Bylaw changes were voted on and new officers elected. Bylaw changes were certified on 6th of March by the Dept. of Commerce, Division of Corporations.
- WOW representatives attend the meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York.
- WOW was represented at the 1st World Congress of Families in Prague, the Czech Republic.
- Agenda 21 (Conference on the Environment and Development—Earth Summit), New York, UN building. WOW was represented.
- WOW applied for NGO Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
- WOW was issued a permit C593 to fund raise by the Dept. of Commerce, Division of Consumer Protection.
- The first Issue of Women’s Voice, a newsletter was printed and distributed.
- WOW was invited to have a booth at Senator Hatch’s Women’s Conference.
- WOW attends 36th session of the UN Commission for Social Development.
- WOW is represented at the 42nd Session of the UN Commission of the Status of Women in New York City.
- March—WOW becomes a member of a Pro-Family Coalition formed in New York at the UN.
- March—2nd Annual Meeting of WOW “Making Changes from the Inside Out” held at the Salt Lake Community College, Utah. Reviewed and revised WOW resolutions.
- WOW was represented at the UN Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth held in Lisbon, Portugal.
- Organized an Advisory Board, and held a meeting.
- WOW invited to have a booth at Senator Hatch’s Women’s Conference.
- Women’s Voice newsletter published and distributed.
- WOW applied for a grant from the Utah State Health Department for an abstinence sex education program called FACTS. It was awarded to WOW.
- WOW’s logo was created.
- UN ECOSOC “Special” Consultative Status was granted.
- WOW joins the World Movement of Mothers with Headquarters in Paris, France.
- WOW invited to attend the 1st World Family Policy Forum at BYU.
- WOW was represented at the UN Cairo +5 Population Conference at The Hague, Netherlands.
- WOW’s 3rd Annual Meeting “Strong Families=Strong Communities” at the Salt Lake Community College, Salt Lake City, Utah.
- WOW’s Inspirational Program held at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building chapel entitled “Building Loving Families”.
- Wow’s Celebration of Families Conference at the Salt Palace convention Center.
- WOW attended UN Commission on the Status of Women’s Conference in New York City.
- WOW was represented at the Seoul International Conference of NGO’s in Seoul, Korea.\Women’s Voice newsletter printed and distributed.
- WOW was a sponsor and was represented at the World Congress on Families II at Geneva Switzerland. WOW sponsored a booth, and published and distributed a booklet on family language in UN documents.
- WOW Africa was organized by Carol Ugochukwu.
- WOW developed a plan for chapter organizations and developed a proposed chapter newsletter.
- Women’s Voice newsletter printed and distributed.
- WOW’s 4th annual meeting “Building a Culture of Peace” at the Salt Lake Community College. Revised bylaws, developed 11 positions and their opposite s (points and counterpoints. )
- WOW representative was elected to the board of the World Movement of Mothers (Mouvement Mondial des Meres), in Paris, France.
- WOW attended the 5-year review of the UN Summit on Social Development in Geneva, Switzerland where WOW had a booth.
- WOW was represented at the World Family Policy Forum.
- WOW “Celebration Night” with greetings by Lt. Governor Olene Walker.
- WOW’s Celebration of Families” Conference at the Salt Lake Community College Lifetime and Activities Center. (Videotaped)
- Governor Leavitt signed a Proclamation making September “Celebration of Families” Month.
- WOW Africa’s projects were presented to various organizations in Portland, Oregon.
- \WOW representative attended World Movement of Mother’s (Mouvement Mondial des Meres) board meeting in Paris, France.
- Women’s Voice newsletter printed and distributed (WOW “Celebration of Families” Conference edition.
- Prepared an information packet for organizations desiring to be an associated member of WOW.
- Meeting of Board of Directors to elect new board members.
- 5th Annual meeting help at the Salt Lake Community College Larry H. Miller Center. Representatives from various NGO’s presented: World Family Policy Center at BYU; WOW Africa; America Mothers, Inc.; Reach the Children; World Movement of Mothers, and WOW. Changes in bylaws and resolutions approved.
- Board meeting held.
- Submitted application for Charitable Organization Permit– State of Utah.
- WOW attended the World Movement of Mother’s Annual Meeting in Brussels, Belgian.
- Prepared Organizational chart for WOW and published an edition of “Solutions for Families” by Paula Fellingham.
- Revised WOW brochure
- Published 16-page newsletter Women’s Voice. Articles included President’s Report; Electronic Resourced; WOW Annual Meeting; Solutions for Families; Organizational Meeting for Utah Chapter; BYU World Family Policy Forum; WOW Africa; UN Special Session on Children; Personal Perspective of UN Experience; World Congress on Families; Growing Sovereignty in the United Nations; UN Conference on Small Arms; World Movement of Mothers.
- Susan Roylance approved by the board to be WOW’s New York Representative at the UN. She submitted a report of her January trip to the UN in New York, for the purpose of arranging accreditation and other matters for the World Summit on Social Development to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa September. She developed the “Child Development Caucus”.
- Board Meeting: Reports were made concerning the meeting for the funding of WOW Africa by the Semnani Foundation. Proposed the Annual Meeting date for April 5, 2002.
- WOW attended the 2nd PrepCom for the UN world Summit on Social Development in New York. A side event was presented entitled “The Future of Development Lies Within the Child.” WOW also assisted in the organization of the NGO African Women’s Caucus.
- UN Commission of the Status of Women’s 46th session was attended by WOW.
- BYU Micro Credit Conference was attended by WOW.
- WOW board of Directors Meeting. Proposal to make Women’s Voice an ongoing electronic newsletter. Requested volunteers to represent WOW at the upcoming conferences and meetings.
- PrepCom for the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development in New York at the UN.
- World Congress on Families, New York attended by WOW.
- UN Special Session of the General Assembly on Children in New York was attended by WOW.
- International Sufi Women Organization Annual Meeting in Bellevue, Washington was attended by WOW.
- Annual Meeting of the World Movement of Mothers in Paris, France. WOW was represented.
- Obtained license from State of Utah, Dept. of Commerce; Division of Consumer protection allowing WOW to fundraise.
- World family Policy Forum attended by WOW>
- UN Johannesburg Summit 2002 attended by WOW.
- Annual DPI/NGO conference attended by WOW.
- WOW Annual meeting and luncheon, Salt Lake County Building. FACTS Program explained; African report given by Carol Ugochukwu, President of WOW Africa.
- Meeting with “Reach the Children” President attended by WOW and WOW Africa.
- Senator Orrin Hatch’s Annual Utah Women’s Conference—WOW provided a booth of their information.
- International Aid and Trade Conference, Business Seminars and Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland, attended by WOW.
- UN Commission on Social Development Meeting New York attended by WOW.
- BYU School of Family Life Internship Fair attended by WOW.
- UN Commission on the Status of Women, New York, attended by WOW. Their side event: Panel–“Women for all Times and Seasons”.
- WOW representative in Geneva, Switzerland works on Working Group on Peace with the NGO Committee on the Status of Women.
- WOW attended the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.
- BYU World Family Policy Forum in Provo, Utah attended by WOW.
- WOW representatives will be members of the UN Year of the Family Committee in New York for one year.
- Global Information Security ICT Summit at UN , New York, attended by WOW.
- WOW FACTS Program funded for another year with a grant from Utah Health Dept.
- World Movement of Mothers Conference in Beirut, Lebanon attended by WOW.
- BYU Intern Fair at BYU attended by WOW.
- Launching of the UN International Year of the Family by the Secretary General. WOW arranged for a large display on the family where the launching took place.
- UN Commission on the Status of Women Meeting attended by WOW. WOW presented a side event entitled “The Role of Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality.” This event was co-sponsored by the World Family Policy Center at Brigham Young University and WOW.
- World Congress of Families III held in Mexico City. WOW was represented.
- WOW representatives relocate to Geneva, Switzerland to represent WOW at the UN Commission of Human Rights, World Health Organization and other European venues.
- World Movement of Mothers Annual meeting in Paris, France. WOW attended.
- WOW met on several occasions to do strategic planning to review/revise Points and Counter Points, Mission and Vision statements.
- Published an edition of Women’s Voice, featuring reports from the Doha International Conference, the Commission on the Status of Women’s meeting held in March; the Mexico City World Congress of Families III held March 2004. WOW was represented at these meetings.
- in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the UN Year of the Family, WOW presented a conference “Women and Their Influence for Good” in Sandy, Utah at the Miller Campus of the Salt Lake Community College, Salt Lake City, Utah.
- International Conference for the Family attended by WOW in Doha, Qatar.
- Board meeting and supper. It was passed unanimously to change WOW from a chapter-based structure to a network-based organization.
- Family First Conference in Ogden, Utah where WOW representatives gave a presentation.
- The UN Conference on the Protection of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities in New York City, WOW was represented.
- Commission on Social Development meeting at the UN in New York was attended by WOW.
- BYU Internship fair; WOW had a booth.
- Beijing + 10, Commission on the Status of Women Meeting in New York, Attended by WOW’s side event entitled “Women and Their Influence for Good—Women making a Positive Difference From a Grassroots Perspective” in which a speaker was arranged from Afghan Academy of Hope spoke, representing All Afghan Women Union in Kabul, Afghanistan.
- Edition of Women’s Voice reporting on the “Women and Their Influence for Good” conference, Doha International Conference for the Family; the FACTS Program, WOW’s values-based premarital abstinence program; and the African Bridge Project.
- Visit to Nigeria and Kenya, WOW representatives, and WOW Africa President.
- Special Edition of Women’s Voice, an update of WOW’s humanitarian project, the bridge over the EZE River in Enugwu, Nigeria.
- World Movement of Mothers Annual Meeting, Madrid, Spain. WOW was represented.
- Bridge information meeting in Salt Lake County East Millcreek Library.
- World Family Policy Forum in Provo, Utah. WOW was represented.
- Polynesian Luau Fund Raising event for the African bridge was sponsored by the Polynesia and Everyone Matters organizations to raise money for the bridge.
- WOW Annual Meeting. New Officers elected.
- WOW attended the Commission on the Status of Women with a side event “Women and Their Economic Influence for Good as an Unpaid Labor Force.”
- Completion of fund-raising and bridge in Nigeria.
- Annual Conference and award celebration.
- WOW was involved in humanitarian work and Student GEO programs.
- Election of new board who realizes the need to promote the 14 positions and further the work of advocating for the natural family.