National Plan of Action

We now focus nationwide attention on a most important resource that has helped to make and keep America great from the time of its founding—our American women.Gloria Scott

The primary objective of the National Women’s Conference was to produce a National Plan of Action: a series of recommendations promoting women’s equality and equity in the United States. The IWY Commission organized these proposals around 26 resolutions—or “planks”—based on the results of the state and territorial meetings. Many of the planks focused on specific issues, such as child care, rape prevention, and poverty. To foster intersectionality, corresponding resolutions represented multiple perspectives. Others planks centered on particular identities, including disabled women, minority women, older women, and rural women. All resolutions were open to debate on the conference floor in Houston.

Anti-Plan delegates made their opposition known by proposing conservative amendments and holding up discussion with procedural questions. They also voted against resolutions on the Equal Rights Amendment, reproductive freedom, and sexual orientation. In spite of media misgivings about infighting within the women’s movement, the conference adopted all but one of the planks. The IWY Commission submitted the resulting agenda, The Spirit of Houston: The First National Women’s Conference, to President Jimmy Carter and the United States Congress in March 1978.

Explore the galleries below to learn more about several of the planks under consideration at the conference.