*he Puerto Rican delegation attending the National Women's Conference
hope to make their voices heard in Spanish.
They have asked the National Commission on the Observance of International
Women's Year to provide simultaneous,
translation in Spanish-English at all confer-'
"We have not been given a definite
answer, but hope we'll have a bilingual con-
of the family. We have many more elderly
women than men and their needs have to
be attended to," said Pico-Hernandez, who
is past president of the Puerto Rico Commission for the Betterment of Women's
The Commission was created by a
law passed by the Puerto Rican Legislature
in 1973, and has been one of the strongest
driving forces behind the women's move-
One of the bills passed, giving married women equal power in administering
common property, had been introduced in
the legislature for eight consecutive years.
One of the discriminatory laws done
away with prohibited women from having
their own businesses and placed them in
the same category with those who need
special protection from the state: the insane, minors and the deaf and dumb.
director of the legal aid clinic of the University of Puerto Rico's Law School.
"One of the resolutions we are very
interested in is the one supporting passage
of the Equal Rights Amendment. Although
the Constitution of Puerto Rico has a
clause that prohibits discrimination because of sex, it is imperative that the
United State's one does too, since we have
such close ties with the mainland."
i ARRIBA, ARRIBA!
ference. We feel it is only by giving us, the
Hispanic-American women, a choice of
speaking in our native tongue that our
voices will be heard clearly," said Isabel
Pico-Hernandez, a Puerto Rican delegate,
during a telephone conversation from San
Juan, the island's capital.
"It is not that many of us can't speak
English," said Pico-Hernandez, who has a
doctorate in political science from Harvard
University and is a college professor. "We
feel more comfortable speaking Spanish
and we can express ourselves better in
In addition, the Puerto Rico delegation, which has 17 members (five of them
alternate delegates), will bring to Houston
a series of resolutions which the island's
women have asked them to present to the
These resolutions were drafted at an
island-wide women's conference and four
smaller caucuses held in the summer. A
referendum has been taken among the
1,500 women who attended the meetings
to determine which resolutions will take
The resolutions cover a variety of
subjects from child care to inclusion of
Puerto Rico in the scope of some Federal
laws which now do not apply to the island.
One of these is a provision of the Social
Security Act which has a clause that provides for people 72 years and older to receive benefits even if they did not pay into
"This affects many of our elderly
women, since they tend to be the survivors
By Meriemil Rodriguez
ment on the island. Its members are appointed by the island's Senate. The commissioners serve from three to four years.
During the 1975-76 legislative session
the Commission, with the help of a female
state* senator, introduced and got approved
17 bills doing away with laws that discriminated against women, especially married
To date, Puerto Rico's married women can't file separate income tax returns
and there is no such thing as a joint tax return. The husband always files for both.
"For the women of Puerto Rico as
well as the United States, the fact that the
conference is going to take place is a significant step forward," said Ivette Ramos, a
lawyer who is an alternate delegate and
The ties between Puerto Rico and
the United States date back almost 100
years. The Caribbean island, 100 miles long
by 35 miles wide, situated 1,600 miles
southeast of New York, became part of the
United States in 1898 as a result of the
Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans became American citizens in 1917, but island residents don't vote in Presidential
On July 25, 1952, the island became
a Commonwealth voluntarily associated
with the United States as a result of a com:
pact signed by the two countries and approved at the polls by the Puerto Ricans.
The question of Federal statehood for
Puerto Rico is a hotly debated issue on
The delegates to the women's conference will represent the many faces of
Puerto Rico—racially, economically, educationally and socially. The delegation has
four lawyers, one Catholic nun who is a
sociologist, a labor leader, two state senators (one of whom is an artist), a school superintendent, a municipal worker, one college professor, two social workers, a home-
maker who is a home economist, one physician, a television producer and a student.
The majority of the women are between the ages of 26 and 56 and most are
MERIEMIL RODRIGUEZ, a Puerto Rican,
is assistant professor in journalism at the
University of Houston and has written for
the New York Daily News, the San Juan
Star and others.
By Charlotte Moser
In the last year, Philadelphia formed
a new women's co-op called Muse; Kansas
City staged Missouri's first women's show,
and Houston brought in the exhibition of
200 artworks by women for the International Women's Year Conference.
All this happened through the efforts
of the Women's Caucus for Art, a five-year-
old group that wants to change the art
world's structure and bend society, too.
The group is sponsoring today's
three-hour conference on "Improving the
Status of Women in Art: "Success Stories
and Strategies for Gaining Recognition and
Reward" beginning at 2:30 p.m. in Albert
Thomas Center, Room 106. Film and video
activities in Seneca Falls South are also or
ganized by the group with a grant from
"The women's movement has
brought art back into society as a whole
for the first time since the 1930's," says
Judith Brodsky, president of the WCA
which began in 1972 under the auspices
of the College Art Association.
"We're involved with issues that go
beyond women in art. But it took a change
in generations to bring art back to the soc
ial acitivism of early Artists Equity."
Part of WCA's activitism is leveled at
political change and part of it at internal
changes in art academics.
WCA's first activity was compiling
figures about employment of women on
art faculties, and exhibitions granted to
women in galleries and museums. They
came up with data showing that while 50
per cent of new Ph.D.s are women, less
Continued on page 7
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PAGE 14 NOVEMBFR 20, 1977 DAILY BREAKTHROUGH