Contact: Colleen Dermody of The Feminist Majority Foundation, 703-522-2214
WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 -- Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, announced the winners of the fifth annual Feminist of the Year Awards. These awards are intended to encourage people to speak out for feminism and honor those who risked their jobs, careers or educations, made personal sacrifices, or used their high-ranking positions to bring about women's equality over the past year or over their lifetimes.
This year two of the Feminist Majority Foundation's Feminists of the Year are women who led the call for women's worldwide empowerment and reproductive rights at the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, Egypt. Dr. Nafis Sadik, general secretary of the ICPD, worked to place the empowerment of women at the center of the population debate; and Gro Harlem Brundtland, prime minister of Norway, spoke out in favor of reproductive rights at the ICPD in response to the Catholic Church and fundamentalist Muslim opposition.
"Dr. Sadik and Prime Minister Brundtland are in stark contrast to TIME Magazine's Man of the Year -- Pope John Paul II," said Smeal. "The pope tried to obstruct the International Conference on Population and Development with the abortion issue. However, the work of Sadik, Brundtland and women's organizations succeeded in putting the advancement of women at the center of the debate to stabilize the world's population while recognizing for the first time unsafe abortion as a world public health problem. Sadik and Brundtland are true 'moral forces' working for the equality of all human beings, unlike the pope, who chooses to ignore the sufferings of millions of women from unwanted pregnancies."
Other 1994 Feminists of the Year are: Chilean feminist writer Isabel Allende, for her portrayal of strong women writers and her feminist activism; Asian Immigrant Women Advocates, for working to end the exploitation of women immigrant workers; Dandy Barrett- Witty and Bruce Barrett, daughter and son of slain volunteer clinic escort James Barrett, who have both spoken out against anti- abortion violence; Rep. Don Edwards, for his leadership on women's rights during his three decades in Congress; Atlanta Police Chief Beverly Harvard, the first African-American woman to head a big- city police department, for breaking the glass ceiling for women and African-Americans in police; abortion clinic owner Susan Hill, who runs clinics in remote areas in the face of continuous threats of violence; the first lesbian or gay member of the California legislature, Sheila James Kuehl; Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin, for continuing to promote women's rights despite receiving death threats; the late Winn Newman, for his pioneering leadership in the field of comparable worth and pregnancy discrimination; Edouard Sakiz and Catherine Euvrard of Roussel Uclaf, for breaking the logjam on introduction of RU 486 to the United States; and Rena Weeks, for setting a precedent that companies cannot tolerate sexual harassment without paying a hefty price.
------ Editor's Note: Full descriptions of the 1994 Feminist of the Year Award recipients are available by contacting the Feminist Majority Foundation. Interviews with some of the recipients can be arranged and some photos can be provided. The Feminist Majority Foundation is an education, research and action organization dedicated to achieving equality for women in all sectors of society.