Movement Activism

Ultimately, it was the activism of women themselves and mobilization on the grassroots level that was true catalyst for change.

Interest in human rights grew among feminists looking for ways to hold governments responsible for the plight of women and seeking to apply strong mechanisms for redress. Feminist advocates wrote, spoke, documented, analyzed, and challenged the gender bias exhibited by human rights theory and organizations. They questioned concepts and principles that defined the human rights field and expanded them to reflect the realities of women’s lives. The battle to introduce a gender analysis into the human rights framework took place in many arenas.

Inspired by the International War Crimes Tribunal, a people’s tribunal on crimes committed in the Vietnam War that took place in 1967, feminist activists organized the International Tribunal on Crimes against Women to make public the multitude of crimes committed against women all around the world. It also sought to bring an alternative, more radical feminist perspective to the UN’s International Women’s Year. Activists organized hearings on the abuse of women in many countries throughout 1975-76, and over 2000 women from 40 countries came together in Brussels to hear testimonies about experiences of women’s oppression and violence and to denounce the abuse of women in its many forms.