About the CWLU
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CWLU Workgroups and Chapters

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Steering Committee: The CWLU Steering Committee was made up of representatives of various CWLU associated groups. It was responsible for coordinating the day to day work of the CWLU, for overseeing the office and staff of the CWLU, and for planning CWLU special events.

HERS: HERS(Health Evaluation and Referral Service) provided women with detailed information about health resources in the Chicagoland area. One of the CWLU's most successful projects, it lasted until 1990.

Abortion Counseling Service:The Abortion Counseling Service was the CWLU's underground illegal abortion provider until 1973. Better known as "Jane" it has been the subject of a book, a documentary film and a stage play

Chicago Women's Graphics Collective: The colorful posters of the Chicago Women's Graphics Collective adorned the walls of many feminist homes, offices. women's centers and health clinics in the 1970's and 1980's. They are considered collector's items today

China Group: The China Group organized the first trip to China by a women's liberation organization. They observed the changes in women's status that had resulted from the Chinese Revolution and then shared their insights with other Americans upon their return.

DARE/Direct Action for Rights in Employment : DARE worked in Chicago's labor movement, trying to battle the intense employment discrimination of the time. Their most successful activity was the campaign to support the City Hall janitresses who courageously confronted the Major Richard J. Daley political machine over racial and gender discrimination.

Prison Project: Prison Project worked with women incarcerated at the Dwight Correctional Center. They taught learning skills, helped prisoners with legal research and organized advocacy on the outside. Eventually, their work at the prison helped establish child visitation rights for incarcerated mothers.

WATCH: WATCH(Women Act to Control Healthcare), formed in 1972 to try to save the Chicago Maternity Center, a home birthing clinic located on Chicago's Westside. WATCH also did pregnancy testing for women in a storefront on Halsted Street and assisted women in making choices about their pregnancy including where to get a safe abortion.

Anti-Imperialist Group: The Southeast Asia War was raging when the CWLU was founded in 1969 and its members were very anti-war. The Anti-Imperialist group helped women understand the relationship between imperialism and sexism and how women's experience with war is quite different than men's.

Consciousness Raising Groups: The CWLU had several chapters that functioned as consciousness raising groups(commonly called CR Groups). These groups discussed peoples' personal lives and helped empower members to make difficult personal and political choices.

Local Chapters: Some CWLU members belonged to local chapters which functioned as semi autonomous groups within the CWLU. Some examples were the Hyde Park Chapter, the Friday Night Chapter, Brazen Hussies and Mrs. O'Leary. Some of these were primarily conscious raising groups. Others planned political strategy. Some combined both.


Womankind: Womankind was the newspaper of the CWLU from 1971-73. It was conceived as a monthly publication to reach women who were curious about the women's liberation movement, but who were not necessarily activists.

Pregnancy Testing: Back when pregnancy tests were only available from clinics and doctors, the Pregnancy Testing workgroup provided a very popular service to women who could not afford a doctor or clinic, or were turned off by the pervasive medical sexism of the time.

Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band:They were probably the first feminist rock and roll ensemble in U.S. history. Their live performances are remembered with great affection by those who attended them. With their sister band, the New Haven Women's Liberation Rock Band, they cut a vinyl LP called Mountain Moving Day in 1972.

Legal Clinic:The Legal Clinic provided a much needed alternative for women at a time when there were few women lawyers and even fewer women judges. The Clinic gave free legal advice and referred people to women lawyers who charged reasonable fees or did work pro bono.

Outreach/Secret Storm: Outreach/Secret Storm organized women in Chicago's working class high schools, community colleges and neighborhoods. They are probably best remembered for their struggle to end the Chicago Park District's bias against women's sports.

ACDC/Action Committee for Decent Childcare:ACDC organized a citywide childcare coalition to push for licensing reforms and to bring the whole issue of childcare into the public eye. They achieved several important victories in their struggle with the usually intransigent Richard J. Daley political machine.

Gay Group/Lesbian Group/Blazing Star :Lesbians faced discrimination not only from the larger society, but even from within the women's movement. The CWLU's lesbian organizing focused on both forms of discrimination. The Lesbian Group came to be known as "Blazing Star", after the name of their popular newsletter.

Asian Women's Group(AWG): Strongly influenced by the Chinese Revolution, the AWG worked on issues of labor exploitation, racism and the particular sexism directed against women of color.

Rape Project: The Rape Project had a crisis line where women who had been raped could call for someone to talk to them, someone to go to the hospital with them, and if they wanted, someone to go to the police with them. Rape crisis hotlines were still a new idea at the time.

Campus Chapters: Campuses were an important part of the CWLU's organizing. Campus chapters included Circle (now U of I at Chicago), Loyola, Northwestern, Roosevelt, Loop (now Harold Washington), Central YMCA (now defunct), Rosary (now Dominican University) and others.