Work Groups were the primary focus for CWLU. Through them a wide-range of activities took place - from classes on women's history (pre-dating women's studies programs at universities) to health care clinics to graphics that covered the walls of the CWLU offices. A total of 65 work groups have been identified as part of the CWLU over the course of its existence. A few of them are described here. Others are listed at the end.
Abortion Counseling Service of Women's Liberation
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,a poetry collection and a stage play.
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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.
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. They produced a slideshow on the exploitation of women workers in sweatshops.
Blazing Star grew out of the Lesbian Group of the CWLU. It focused on organizing and reaching out to the Chicago Lesbian community and worked on efforts to pass gay rights legislation.READ MORE... [BLAZING STAR]
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
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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.
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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.
READ MORE... [CHINA GROUP]
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.
READ MORE... [DARE/DIRECT ACTION FOR RIGHTS IN EMPLOYMENT]
HERS (Health Evaluation and Referral Service)
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.
READ MORE... [HERS (HEALTH EVALUATION AND REFERRAL SERVICE)]
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.
READ MORE... [LEGAL CLINIC]
Liberation School for Women
The Liberation School for Women was one of the first projects of CWLU. It’s slogan was ‘What we don’t know we must learn, what we do know, we must teach each other.’ More than a thousand women participated in classes like ‘Prepared Childbirth,’ ‘Women’s Rights History,’ ‘High School Women’s Liberation,’ ‘Study Group on the Family’ and many more.
READ MORE... [LIBERATION SCHOOL FOR WOMEN]
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.
READ MORE... [PREGNANCY TESTING]
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.
READ MORE... [PRISON 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.
WATCH (Women Act to Control Healthcare)
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.
READ MORE... [WATCH (WOMEN ACT TO CONTROL HEALTHCARE)]
WOMANKIND was the primary outreach publication of CWLU. It was started by the CWLU in September 1971 because the organization “…felt there was a crying need for a paper whose function would be to reach women who were not already in the women’s liberation movement.
READ MORE... [WOMANKIND]
List of Work Groups
Year Formed Work Group
1969 Southside Women's Liberation Center
1970 La Dolores
1970 Lincoln Park Women's Center
1970 North Side Center
1970 Northside Women's Center
1970 Southside Center
1971 South Side Women's Center
1972 Edgewater Women's Center
1972 Roger's Park Sister Center
1972 Women's Center in Evanston
1973 Connecting Link
1970 Action Committee for Decent Child Care (ACDC)
1973 Daycare group
1975 Child Support Legal Clinic
1970 Lakeview Organizing Project
1974 Chicago Park District Softball
1975 Secret Storm
1969 Women's Art Collective
1970 Rock Band.
1970 Suzie Cream Cheese Collective
1970 Women's Liberation Art Collective
1970 College Organizer's Group
1970 Elementary and High School Teachers
1970 Liberation School
1973 High School and Junior College Organizing
1969 Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (WITCH)
1970 Abortion Counseling Service
1970 Abortion Resource Committee
1970 Insane Liberation
1970 Total Repeal of Illinois Abortion Laws (TRIAL)
1971 Abortion Project
1971 Alice Hamilton Clinic
1971 Chicago Maternity Center
1971 Pregnancy Testing
1971 Women's Act To Control Health
1972 Health Project
1973 Abortion Task Force
1973 Emma Goldman Clinic
1973 Fritzi Englestein Free People's Health Center
1973 Health Evaluation and Referral Service (HERS)
1973 Mental Health Work Group
1973 Women's Clinic Group
1975 Chicago Women's Health Center
1975 Sterilization Abuse Project
1976 Health Strategy Group
1980 Chicago Women's Health Task Force
1970 Women's Anti-Imperialist Group
1973 China Group
1975 New China Group
1971 Legal Clinic
1974 Prison Project
1971 Gay Women's Caucus
1971 Group Of Women Working With Prostitutes
1971 Rape Crisis Line
1973 Northside Rape Crisis Line
1973 Southside Rape Action Project
1974 Gay Women’s Group
1974 Lesbian Group
1975 Blazing Star
1972 Work Work Group
1972 Direct Action for Rights in Employment (DARE)