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Creating an international women’s movement

Saralee Hamilton, 1945-2006

Saralee Hamilton ran the National Women's Program from 1975 to 2006, bringing issues of gender inequality to the work of AFSC. Photo: AFSC

Raised by her mother in Glasgow, Pa., a coal-mining and farming region, Saralee Hamilton spent most of her adult years working for justice. In 1968 she moved to Philadelphia and helped to establish the Institute for Educational Development, and later the New American Movement, a successor of Students for a Democratic Society. In 1975, she joined AFSC and spearheaded the dynamic new National Women’s Program (NWP), which helped to bring the emerging feminist movement into the work and organizational structure of AFSC. During the NWP’s 32-year lifetime, Saralee and the program worked for peace in successive conflicts in Central America and Southeast Asia, and began to address emerging concern of gay and lesbian rights.

“Saralee was the person who directed this program from its beginnings, holding its many threads in her hands,” writes Rachael Kamel in her preface to the 2007 report that documents the NWP’s history. “She will be remembered as a woman who touched the lives of many people within and beyond the AFSC.” Publishing newsletters, journal articles, and internal memos regarding the role of women in the workplace, the National Women’s Program lobbied for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and sought to empower women across the world to join forces to oppose the exploitative practices of corporate power. 

Listen to Saralee discuss AFSC's involvement in the 1985 UN Women's Conference as standout supporters of LGBTQ rights.

Read about more women change-makers from AFSC's history.