Just for You: International Activists and Leaders


  1. Text references
    1. The Making of an Activist – Bella’s Early Family life.  1920-34, pp. 3-15
    2. The personal is political – Raising a family; living the commitment.  1949-1984, pp. 35-44
    3. Thinking nationally, working locally – Organizing NYC’s anti-war movement for change. 1966-70, pp.75-83
    4. UN Conferences on Women in Copenhagen and Nairobi. 1980, 1985, pp.238 – 241
    5. Going Global – Bella Abzug as an international activist who changed the UN and became a model to women around the world. 1990-98, pp.263-279

  2. Thought questions (Download pdf)
    1. What tools, strategies, and skills did Bella Abzug use to mobilize international leaders and grass roots activists. 
    2. How did the UN and the roles of NGO’s change as a result of Bella Abzug’s activism?
    3. How did Bella Abzug’s personal life inform her public life and vice-verse, starting with her childhood and including her family, religion, friends, and personal health?
    4. To what extent are all issues on the global agenda women’s issues?
    5. What in our society today would change the way a modern day Bella Abzug operates, and how would she have to adjust to be effective?
      1. Rise of the right wing and fundamentalism of all sorts
      2. Technology
      3. Changing demographics, and increasing multiplication and fragmentation of identity

  3. In Their Own Words: Quotes for Discussion (Download pdf)
    1. “Once we had raised the public consciousness through demonstrative action, then you’d take that consciousness and turn it into political action. That’s my view.” (Bella Abzug p. 70)
    2. “…if something really important happened nationally or internationally, you would drop what you were doing on a dime to act on what needed to be addressed.”  (Martha Baker p. 235)
    3. “You’ve got to be creative, experienced, and know how to use the library to ferret out what you need.” (Bella Abzug p. 122)
    4. “So you’d have a strong, clear message coming from a lot of forces working together – women of color, women in the labor community, political women, movement women.  I haven’t seen that kind of action from the women’s community in a long time.” (Martha Baker p. 236)
    5.  “She [Bella] opened up the space at the UN.  All the processes that are now standard operating procedure with NGO meetings – the different subgroups, caucuses, lobbying for language – people forget it was not always that way.  Bella started it for women, but it benefited everybody.”  (June Zeitlin p. 267)
    6. “The environmental links to breast cancer gave us an entry point that all women can relate to. … Relating things to your own life, your own body is important, and to the struggle of those who are the least fortunate on the planet.  Bella was advocating for a deep empathy, a kind of solidarity in organizing, to counter the ‘not in my backyard’ approach.” (Susan Davis p. 271)