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Rosalynn Carter: Lack Of U.S. Leadership Hurt Women’s Movement With PM-Women-Constitution, Bjt

February 11, 1988

ATLANTA (AP) _ A lack of leadership caused emphasis on women’s issues to slip during the 1980s, and any progress came only after women demanded it, says former first lady Rosalynn Carter.

″(On) the higher levels of government, there hasn’t been anyone pushing them,″ Mrs. Carter said in an interview Wednesday on the eve of a national symposium on women and their role in developing the Constitution.

The two-day conference opening today was planned by Mrs. Carter and former first ladies Betty Ford, Pat Nixon and Lady Bird Johnson.

″I think in a number of areas we have slipped backwards, and the gains we have made have been because we demanded them,″ Mrs. Carter said. ″I think there has been a slowing down in the fact that there was nobody in national governent interested in the Equal Rights Amendment.″

Mrs. Carter said poor women have suffered the greatest decline because their access to adequate health care and education has diminished gradually over the years.

She said she hesitated about participating in the conference because she felt it might be viewed as bringing ″a whole group of people together to make a big noise about the Equal Rights Amendment not being passed.″

″I don’t think it’s a so-called feminist conference,″ she said. ″I did not want it to be a protest.″

She said one of the symposium’s most important aspects would be developing a curriculum documenting women’s roles in shaping the Constitution.

″One of our goals from this conference is to develop a legacy of women, American women, those who have been influential to the history of our country,″ she said. ″We don’t have that in our textbooks.″