Women in Washington State participated in the "second wave" of feminism of the late 20th century following what is
considered to be the "first wave" which began in the 1840s and lasted through the enactment of the 19th amendment to the U.S.
Constitution in 1920 which enabled nationwide women’s suffrage. Beginning in 1963 when then Governor Albert D. Rosellini
appointed the first Commission on the Status of Women in Washington, Washington enacted a series of feminist laws including
legalizing abortion in early pregnancy in 1970, approving the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972, as well as enacting Equal Credit
for Women in 1972 and No-Fault Divorce in 1973. The International Women’s Year Conference in Ellensburg in 1977 was a pivotal
event to galvanize positions on feminism in Washington and created a backlash which resulted in the dismantling of the Washington
Women’s Council by then Governor Dixy Lee Ray in 1978. A landmark initiative in Washington relating to Comparable Worth for
State Employees was established in the mid 1980s and the state’s abortion rights were confirmed in 1991. Throughout the period,
decisions and discourse on women’s rights and opportunities continued to be in the public eye.
Pro-Plan Houston 1977 button