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Feminism for the AmericasThe Making of an International Human Rights Movement$
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Katherine M. Marino

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469649696

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469649696.001.0001

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The Great Feminist Battle of Montevideo

The Great Feminist Battle of Montevideo

(p.96) Chapter Four The Great Feminist Battle of Montevideo
Feminism for the Americas

Katherine M. Marino

University of North Carolina Press

The chapter explores how tensions over Doris Stevens’s leadership exploded at the 1933 Seventh International Conference of American States in Montevideo, where Bertha Lutz launched serious challenges against her. There, Lutz allied with representatives from the U.S. State Department and U.S. Women’s and Children’s Bureaus in the new administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, including Sophonisba Breckinridge, who also opposed Stevens’s leadership of the Commission. The conflict between Stevens’s “equal rights” feminism, focused on political and civil rights, versus an inter-American feminism that also encompassed social and economic justice, became even more pronounced in the wake of the Great Depression, Chaco War, and revolutions throughout Latin America. Feminist debates took center stage in Montevideo. There, Lutz promoted women’s social and economic concerns. But her assumptions of U.S./Brazilian exceptionalism prevented her from effectively allying with growing numbers of Spanish-speaking Latin American feminists who opposed Stevens’s vision. The 1933 conference pushed forward the Commission’s treaties for women’s rights, and four Latin American countries signed the Equal Rights Treaty. It also inspired more behind-the-scenes organizing by various Latin American feminists and statesmen, including the formation of a new group, the Unión de Mujeres Americanas, that would later bear fruit.

Keywords:   Bertha Lutz, Doris Stevens, Sophonisba Breckinridge, Pan-Americanism, Unión de Mujeres Americanas, Seventh International Conference of American States, Uruguay, Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration, Equal Rights Treaty

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