International Women's Tribune Centre records
Scope and Contents
The International Women’s Tribune Centre (IWTC) records document the United Nations Decade for Women, the World Conferences for Women (1975, 1980, 1985, and 1995), and the transnational grassroots work that happened between major conferences. The collection includes extensive correspondence, administrative and planning records, publications, and reports. In addition, the IWTC maintained a substantial slide library and collected posters from women’s organizations around the world.
Dates of Materials
- Creation: 1962 - 2010
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1975 - 1995
- International Women's Tribune Centre (Organization)
Language of Materials
The majority of the collection is in English, but it also contains a significant amount of Spanish-language material and smaller quantities of material in many other languages.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
To the extent that they own copyright, the International Women's Tribune Centre (IWTC) has assigned to Smith College all intellectual property rights in these materials; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by the IWTC, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.
Biographical / Historical
The International Women's Tribune Centre (IWTC, previously known as the International Women's Year Tribune Project) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) established in 1976 following the 1975 United Nations International Women's Year World Conference in Mexico City. It aims to provide resources, information, liaison services, and technical assistance to Third World organizations and community groups working to improve the lives of women.
In the early 1970s, the United Nations declared the 1970s its “Second Development Decade” as a way to “give concrete substance to this solemn pledge” as part of its charter to “create conditions of stability and well-being and to ensure a minimum standard of living consistent with human dignity through economic and social progress and development.” As part of this Decade, the UN General Assembly declared that 1975 would be International Women's Year (IWY), to promote women's contribution to development.
The UN convened the “World Conference of the International Women’s Year” as a focal point of the IWY. The Conference took place from June 19th to July 2nd in Mexico City. At the Conference, the U.N. proclaimed 1976-1985 the U.N. Decade for Women. Part of the Decade’s work would be two more Conferences to assess progress, the Mid-Decade Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1980, and a final conference in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985.
CoNGO (the UN Conference of NGOs in Consultative Status with ECOSOC, originally comprised of 200 member organizations) created a Planning Committee to prepare NGO activities in relation to World Conferences, including the organization of parallel forums of NGOs called the International Women’s Year Tribune. The Planning Committees' responsibilities included arrangements for facilities with the host country, organizing the program, raising the funds, and collaborating with the U.N. Secretariat on public information on the Conference and Forum.
During the 1975 United Nations International Women's Year World Conference in Mexico City, the International Women's Year Tribune convened to discuss the issues tabled at the official conference. They had no official authority to take any action on behalf of the UN, but the Tribune allowed around 6,000 delegates to come together and discuss problems facing women and NGOs on the international stage. The event hosted many international organizations and activists, including the Siglo XX Miners' Union Housewives Committee of Bolivia, intrnational lesbian activists, the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), the National Women's Political Caucus, the United Auto Workers, the National Council of Negro Women, Fem magazine, COYOTE, Women's World Banking, and the Self-Employed Women's Association of India.
The Tribune was held on the opposite side of Mexico City, creating a physical as well as philosophical separation of the two groups. The difference in format stemmed from the position that the delegates participated in discussions on official policy; whereas, the NGO tribunal women dealt with means and methods of program implementation to improve women's educational opportunities, equality, economic position, and collaboration. The Tribune hosted thirty-six planned meetings and nearly two hundred spontaneously organized additional sessions covering a wide variety of topics, including development, education, health, human rights, peace, work, birth control, gender violence, lesbianism, prostitution, racism, and sexism.
Since the participants were not governmental representatives, the delegates were free to discuss items openly avoided by the officials. The free discussion also made apparent the divide separating the women. Westernized women focused on individual freedom, Socialist women focused on the state's obligation to enforce the collective rights of all members of a society, and those from countries not aligned to either of these views pointed to the need for development, economic empowerment, food security, and correction of the structural problems in systems. Amid the wide range of views, there were performances aimed at capturing media attention, with some attendees wearing national costumes and others wearing business attire, as well as rhetoric pitting ideologies against each other to gain a spotlight.
At one point, frustrated that they could not be part of the official dialogue, a group of radical feminists planned to stage a march through the streets of Mexico City. Instead, a group of fifteen delegates was chosen who presented amendments to Helvi Sipilä requesting that they be given to the official committees. The amendments the Tribune proposed included establishment of a UN office to monitor success of the Plan, issue annual progress reports, and investigate human rights abuse against women. They also asked for the UN to improve their internal hiring policies so that more women were not only hired, but promoted to management and executive positions.
Following the 1975 IWY Tribune, CONGO created the more permanent NGO Forum Planning Committees to prepare activities relating to future International Women's Year Tribunes, to be held in 1980, 1985, 1995, and 2000. The Committees' responsibilities included arranging for facilities in host countries, organizing the program, fundraising, and collaborating with the U.N. Secretariat on publicizing the Tribunes and activities of NGO Forums.
In addition to these activities, the NGO Forum Planning Committees also created the IWTC. The IWTC was established to continue the work of the IWY Tribune outside of the conference years. It was charged with spreading information amongst international NGOs, creating a network to increase cooperation, providing technical assistance in the area of materials development, and eventually housing the records of the NGO Planning Committees.
In 1980, another Tribune was held for the Copenhagen Mid-Decade Forum, and in 1985 the Tribune convened again for the FORUM '85 in Nairobi. These NGO Forums offered workshops, film shows, demonstrations, and informal meetings in areas of education, appropriate technology, health, and other topics of concern to women in the Third World. At the Mid-Decade Forum the IWTC was asked to be responsible for developing the human resource center, "VIVENCIA." It would serve as a place for people to meet and strengthen links between women of various regions. IWTC also served as a human resource center during FORUM '85.
The IWTC continues its work past the UN Decade for Women, and today it provides communication, information, education, and organizing support services to organizations and community groups working to improve the lives of women, particularly low-income women, in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Western Asia. IWTC activities include providing resource, information and liaison services, as well as technical assistance in the area of materials development to Third World women's groups. The Tribune Centre publishes a bi-monthly newsletter that is distributed gratis to individuals living outside the U.S. as a means of disseminating development-related information pertaining to women, and to encourage dialogue among women around the world.
Wikipedia contributors, "World Conference on Women, 1975," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=World_Conference_on_Women,_1975 (accessed August 3, 2020).
“About IWTC.” International Women's Tribune Centre, International Women's Tribune Centre, www.iwtc.org/63/index.html (accessed August 3, 2020).
124.726 linear feet (155 containers)
The International Women's Tribune Centre (IWTC, previously known as the International Women's Year Tribune Project) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) established in 1976 following the 1975 United Nations International Women's Year World Conference in Mexico City. It aims to provide resources, information, liaison services, and technical assistance to Third World organizations and community groups working to improve the lives of women. The records document the United Nations Decade for Women, the World Conferences for Women (1975, 1980, 1985, and 1995), and the transnational grassroots work that happened between major conferences.
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
This collection contains materials received from the donor in digital form that are not currently available online. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request access to this digital content.
As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials in this collection. Please consult with Special Collections staff or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request the creation of and access to digital copies.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Nearly the entire collection was donated by the International Women's Tribune Centre, 1989-2013.
A small number of slides and audiotapes were purchased from the International Women's Tribune Centre in 1978. Thomas Dublin donated some additional slides in 2016.
Routine correspondence and office files were returned to the IWTC or discarded on multiple occassions from 1989 through the late 1990s.
Approximately 11 linear feet of the following types of material were discarded (aside from a few duplicates sent back to the donor at their request) during the 2022-2023 processing: Duplicates (the majority of the separations), publications not produced by IWTC or connected to a conference, posters not clearly related to an event or depicting a clear subject (seemingly random words, letters, drawings etc.), routine office files (such as publication sign-out sheets and resumes from people who didn't work for the IWTC), routine correspondence on things like publication subscriptions, basic information on NGOs lacking broader context within the folder (a bunch of different NGO brochures and flyers stuffed in one folder), mailing lists with little detail or overall relevance, news clippings that were not clearly labeled or grouped thematically, loose papers missing their original context, and fabric (mostly early 2000s t-shirts in poor condition).
The IWTC's research library (donated in 1991) was divided between the Periodicals collection (SSC-MS-00537), the Neilson Library government documents collection, and the University of Maryland.
International Women's Year Tribune/NGO Forums on Women Organizing Committees was formerly a separate collection record, but was combined with IWTC database record in 2001. 89S-27 forum files were partially processed by Anke Voss-Hubbard.
The contents of some computer media in this collection has been copied to networked storage for preservation and access; the original directory and file structure was retained and file lists were created.
During 2022-2023, the collection was processed under the supervision of Collections Archivist Dan Michelson by student assistants Grace Phippard, Beata Knecht, and Vivian DeRosa. Processing was based on a plan written by former Processing Archivist Madison White in 2020. The records of the individual conferences were separated out into series and scattered material was intellectually (and mostly physically) united. Due to poor housing, most of the collection was refoldered. Duplicates and low-value material were separated for disposal and the collection was described at the file level.
- International Women's Tribune Centre (Organization)
- International Women's Year Tribune Project (Organization)
- Once and Future Action Project (OFAN) (Organization)
- NGO Forum on Women, Beijing '95 (Organization)
- Davis, Vanessa (Person)
- Semler, Vicki (Person)
- Friedlander, Eva (Person)
- World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development, and Peace (1980: Copenhagen, Denmark) (Organization)
- World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women (1985 : Nairobi, Kenya) (Organization)
- Walker, Anne, 1933- (Person)
- CoNGO (UN Conference of NGOs in Consultative Status with ECOSOC) (Organization)
- United Nations (Organization)
- International Women's Tribune Centre (Donor, Organization)
Genre / Form
- Electronic records
- International Women's Decade, 1976-85 -- Congresses
- International Women's Year, 1975
- International cooperation
- Non-governmental organizations -- Congresses
- Women -- Developing countries -- 20th century
- Women -- International cooperation
- Women in development -- International cooperation
- Women's rights -- Congresses
- Finding Aid to the International Women's Tribune Centre records
- Grace Phippard, Vivian DeRosa, Beata Knecht, Madison White, and Dan Michelson
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
- 2017-07-26T17:48:16-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
- 2020-04-09: Description added for born-digital content.
- 2023-05-05: Updated to reflect processing.
Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063