The Working Women’s Charter: Women’s Rights between Socialist Internationalism and Neoliberalism in 1970s Europe

This talk examines the transnational circulation of proposals for a Working Women’s Charter in 1970s Europe, a decade that saw both the expansion of gender equality legislation in the expanding European Economic Community, and a renewed attempt by communist regimes in the Soviet bloc to internationalize a socialist vision of women’s rights through international communist organisations such as the Women’s International Democratic Federation, or international forums such as the United Nations. While most research on global socialist feminism in the 1970s has focused on the UN Decade for Women, this article instead takes Europe as its frame. Drawing on archives of women’s groups within communist and trade union movements in East Germany and Czechoslovakia, and their links with similar groups in France and Britain, this talk will situate the Working Women’s Charter at the intersection of debates about welfare reform, the common market, and female (un)employment in 1970s Europe.


Celia Donert is University Lecturer in 20th Century Central European History at the University of Cambridge. She received her PhD from the European University Institute, Fiesole, Italy, and then taught at the University of Liverpool before joining the History Faculty at Cambridge in October 2019. Her first book, The Rights of the Roma: The Struggle for Citizenship in Postwar Czechoslovakia, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017. She is currently working on a history of women’s rights and global socialism in 20th century Europe, supported by the AHRC. Celia is also a co-editor of Contemporary European History.


This event is sponsored by the Institute of European Studies and the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES)


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