Women's International Democratic Federation WIDF

Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF)

 

an organization that unites women “regardless of race, nationality, religion, or political opinion, so that they may work together to win and defend their rights as citizens, mothers, and workers, to protect children, and to ensure peace, democracy, and national independence” (charter of the WIDF). The federation was created in December 1945, at the International Women’s Congress in Paris. In 1976, 121 national women’s organizations from 106 countries of the world were part of the WIDF. The Committee of Soviet Women represents Soviet women in the federation.

The WIDF has held seven congresses, some of which were convened as world congresses of women and held jointly with other international women’s organizations and with national organizations that are not members of the WIDF. The seven include the International Women’s Congress in Paris (1945), the International Women’s Congress in Budapest (1948), the World Congress of Women in Copenhagen (1953), the Fourth Congress of the WIDF in Vienna (1958), the World Congress of Women in Moscow (1963), the World Congress of Women and the Sixth Congress of the WIDF in Helsinki (1969), and the Seventh Congress of the WIDF in Berlin (1975). Some other conferences held by the federation in conjunction with other international organizations were the World Congress of Mothers, held in Lausanne (1955), the International Meeting on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of International Woman’s Day, March 8, held in Copenhagen (1960), the meetings of the women of the countries of Europe for peace and disarmament in Salzburg (1960) and Vienna (1962), the International Conference in Defense of Children, held in Vienna (1952), the World Congress on the Problems of Children, held in Stockholm (1966), the Consultative Meeting of European Women’s Organizations on European Security and Cooperation, held in Ystad (Sweden, 1970), and a number of regional seminars in Asia, Africa, and Latin America devoted to the position of women and their role in society, to the liquidation of illiteracy, and to the protection of the health of mother and child.

The WIDF and its national organizations coordinated mass protests against the intervention of American imperialism in Korea and campaigns of solidarity with the struggles of the Algerian and Vietnamese peoples against French colonialism. They also campaigned against the aggression of the USA in Indochina and of Israel in the Middle East. The federation has actively supported the democrats in Spain, Portugal, Greece, and the countries of Latin America. It has aided those struggling against apartheid in South Africa and supported Angela Davis, the American Communist and black woman.

In 1970 the WIDF and its national organizations marked the 100th anniversary of V. I. Lenin’s birth by holding special sessions and round-table conferences.

The WIDF helped prepare and participated in the World Congress of Peace Forces, held in Moscow in 1973. In 1975, the WIDF participated, together with other international women’s organizations, in the International Women’s Conference, held in Mexico as part of the International Women’s Year. It was also an initiator of and participant in the World Congress held in Berlin to mark the International Women’s Year.

The federation works with the United Nations and its specialized institutions, including the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The supreme body of the WIDF is the congress, which is convened once every four years. The congress elects the president of the WIDF and the council, which is convoked each year and directs the federation between congresses. Representatives of all the national organizations of the WIDF are seated in the council. The bureau, which is convened at least twice a year, sees to it that the decisions of the congress and the council are carried out. The secretariat, headed by the general secretary, handles the day-to-day operations. The headquarters of the WIDF are in Berlin, German Democratic Republic. The president of the WIDF from 1945 to 1967 was Eugenie Cotton of France; from 1969 to 1974 it was Hertta Kuusinen of Finland; and since 1975 it has been Frieda Brown of Australia. The general secretary, since 1972, is Fanny Edelman of Argentina. The WIDF publishes the quarterly journal Women of the World (in English, Spanish, German, Russian, French, and Arabic) and the Informational Bulletin (in English, Spanish, German, and French).

REFERENCES

Petrova, L. I. Mezhdunarodnaia demokraticheskaia federatsiia zhenshchin za mir, ravnopravie zhenshchin i schast’e detei. Moscow, 1956.
Zhenshchiny mira v bor’be za sotsial’nyi progress. Moscow, 1972. Pages 351-77.

L. G. BALAKHOVSKAIA

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