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Women of the Hall

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Year Honored: 1994
Birth: 1916 - Death: 1996
Born In: ,
Died In: ,
Achievements: Humanities
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Catherine East

The woman Betty Friedan described as "the midwife to the contemporary women's movement" spent many years working for the federal government, and it was from this position that much of East's invaluable data and strategic thinking came to the fore to help women progress in society. A staff member on the Kennedy Commission on the Status of Women, East saw the range and degree of discrimination women faced nationwide, and she became a feminist, working to help end gender discrimination. She encouraged the creation of state-level commissions on women, in order to collect information and generate activism at that level. While continuing to serve various government bodies working on women's issues, East also saw the need for the creation of a powerful national women's organization to spearhead the drive to end gender discrimination. Betty Friedan was the National Organization for Women's first president, and the new organization was central to the signing of the federal anti-discrimination legislation. Catherine East was also the architect of the strategy to bring the Equal Rights Amendment out of committee and to passage in House of Representatives.
Additional Sources:


Fuentes, Sonia Pressman. ""Three United States Feminists - A Personal Tribute."" Jewish Affairs 53.1 (Johannesburg, South Africa, 1998): 37.

Oral History Interview(s), undated, 40 items. Women in the Federal Government. Radcliff College, The Arthur & Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. Cambridge, Massachusetts.