October 15, 2003
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.- Activist Ellie Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, will speak in Stirn Auditorium at Amherst College at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21, as part of an effort to promote the March for Choice next April. Her speech, sponsored by the Amherst Feminist Alliance, is free and open to the public. Smeal will speak instead of Kim Gandy, the president of the National Organization for Women, who had to cancel her appearance.
Smeal, the former president of NOW, led the drive to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), the largest nationwide grassroots and lobbying campaign in the history of the modern women's movement. She is the author of How and Why Women Will Elect the Next President (1984), which predicted that women's votes would be decisive in presidential politics. For more than 30 years, Smeal has been active in such equal-rights victories as the integration of Little League, newspaper help-wanted ads and police departments. She worked for passage into law of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Equal Credit Act, Civil Rights Restoration Act, Violence Against Women Act, Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act and Civil Rights Act of 1991. Since 1996 she has led the Feminist Majority Foundation (Website at www.feminist.org). In 2001, Smeal joined with activist Gloria Steinem to take over the publishing of Ms. magazine.
The March for Choice, which hopes to "demonstrate overwhelming majority support for a woman's right to choose safe, legal abortion and birth control," according to the march's Website (www.marchforchoice.org), will take place in Washington, D.C. on April 25. This year's march is the first to be "a collaborative effort," as it is being organized by the Feminist Majority, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in addition to NOW. The presidents of these groups are promoting the event on college campuses this fall, according to Barbara Sieck '05, who chairs the Amherst Feminist Alliance.