Illustration © Nikki McClure

contentarea top menu

CWLU Herstory Project


What was the Chicago Women's Liberation Union?

Out of the upheavals of the 1960's came a group of Windy City women determined to challenge the suffocating male supremacy of the time. They joined the growing women's liberation movement and organized the Chicago Women's Liberation Union (CWLU) which touched the lives of thousands of women through its many organizing projects from 1969-1977.

In America of the late 1960's, it was perfectly legal for women to be paid less than men. There were no women bus drivers, welders, firefighters, news anchors, CEO's or Supreme Court Justices. Women professors, doctors, scientists or lawyers were rare. Gays and lesbians were forced to live "in the closet" for fear of vicious persecution. Women were denied credit by banks and states could bar women from sitting on juries. Women knew next to nothing about their bodies and were afraid to honestly discuss their sexuality. Terms like "domestic violence" or "sexual harassment" did not exist and rape victims had probably "asked for it". Abortion was illegal and women seeking them risked death and injury at the hands of incompetent quacks.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, determined citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."—Margaret Mead.
We say that a small group of women can make mountains move. That was the lesson of CWLU workgroups in health, education, employment, and gay rights, to name a few. There we created the ideas and actions that helped women liberate each other from oppressive beliefs and old social habits.

Now we are sharing our history on the Internet to inspire new generations to continue the struggle for justice and equality.


United States
History & memory
Women's Liberation Movement