Committee: The CWLU Steering Committee was made up of
representatives of various CWLU associated groups. It
was responsible for coordinating the day to day work of the
CWLU, for overseeing the office and staff of the CWLU, and for
planning CWLU special events.
Evaluation and Referral Service) provided women with detailed
information about health resources in the Chicagoland area.
One of the CWLU's most successful projects, it lasted until
Counseling Service:The Abortion Counseling Service was
the CWLU's underground illegal abortion provider until 1973.
Better known as "Jane" it has been the subject of
a book, a documentary film and a stage play
Women's Graphics Collective: The colorful posters of
the Chicago Women's Graphics Collective adorned the walls of
many feminist homes, offices. women's centers and health clinics
in the 1970's and 1980's. They are considered collector's items
Group: The China Group organized the first trip to China
by a women's liberation organization. They observed the changes
in women's status that had resulted from the Chinese Revolution
and then shared their insights with other Americans upon their
Action for Rights in Employment : DARE worked in Chicago's
labor movement, trying to battle the intense employment discrimination
of the time. Their most successful activity was the campaign
to support the City Hall janitresses who courageously confronted
the Major Richard J. Daley political machine over racial and
Project: Prison Project worked with women incarcerated
at the Dwight Correctional Center. They taught
learning skills, helped prisoners with legal research and organized
advocacy on the outside. Eventually, their work at the prison
helped establish child visitation rights for incarcerated mothers.
WATCH(Women Act to Control Healthcare), formed in 1972
to try to save the Chicago Maternity Center, a home birthing
located on Chicago's Westside. WATCH also did pregnancy testing
for women in a storefront
on Halsted Street and assisted women in making choices about
their pregnancy including where to get a safe abortion.
Group: The Southeast Asia War was raging when the CWLU was
founded in 1969 and its members were very anti-war. The Anti-Imperialist
group helped women understand the relationship between imperialism
and sexism and how women's experience with war is quite different
Raising Groups: The CWLU had several chapters that functioned
as consciousness raising groups(commonly called CR Groups).
These groups discussed peoples' personal lives and helped empower
members to make difficult personal and political choices.
Chapters: Some CWLU members belonged to local chapters which
functioned as semi autonomous groups within the CWLU. Some examples
were the Hyde Park Chapter, the Friday Night Chapter, Brazen
Hussies and Mrs. O'Leary. Some of these were primarily conscious
raising groups. Others planned political strategy. Some combined
Womankind was the newspaper of the CWLU from 1971-73.
It was conceived as a monthly publication to reach women
who were curious about the women's liberation movement, but
who were not necessarily activists.
Testing: Back when pregnancy tests were only available
from clinics and doctors, the Pregnancy Testing workgroup provided
a very popular service to women who could not afford a doctor
or clinic, or were turned off by the pervasive medical sexism
of the time.
Women's Liberation Rock Band:They were probably the
first feminist rock and roll ensemble in U.S. history. Their
live performances are remembered with great affection by those
who attended them. With their sister band, the New Haven Women's
Liberation Rock Band, they cut a vinyl LP called Mountain
Moving Day in 1972.
Clinic:The Legal Clinic provided a much needed alternative
for women at a time when there were few women lawyers and even
fewer women judges. The Clinic gave free legal advice and referred
people to women lawyers who charged reasonable fees or did work
Outreach/Secret Storm: Outreach/Secret Storm organized women in Chicago's
working class high schools, community colleges and neighborhoods.
They are probably best remembered for their struggle to end
the Chicago Park District's bias against women's sports.
Committee for Decent Childcare:ACDC organized a citywide
childcare coalition to push for licensing reforms and to bring
the whole issue of childcare into the public eye. They achieved
several important victories in their struggle with the usually
intransigent Richard J. Daley political machine.
Group/Lesbian Group/Blazing Star :Lesbians faced discrimination
not only from the larger society, but even from within the women's
movement. The CWLU's lesbian organizing focused on both forms
of discrimination. The Lesbian Group came to be known as "Blazing
Star", after the name of their popular newsletter.
Women's Group(AWG): Strongly influenced by the Chinese Revolution,
the AWG worked on issues of labor exploitation, racism and the
particular sexism directed against women of color.
Project: The Rape Project had a crisis line where women
who had been raped could call for someone to talk to them, someone
to go to the hospital with them, and if they wanted, someone
to go to the police with them. Rape crisis hotlines were still
a new idea at the time.
Chapters: Campuses were an important part of the CWLU's
organizing. Campus chapters included Circle (now U of I at Chicago),
Loyola, Northwestern, Roosevelt, Loop (now Harold Washington),
Central YMCA (now defunct), Rosary (now Dominican University)