Almost a year before the United Nations' Mid-Decade Conference on Women was held in Copenhagen during the summer of 1980, Mariam Chamberlain of The Ford Foundation, Amy Swerdlow, Myra Dinnerstein, and I began informal discussions about holding meetings of women's studies practitioners there . When we learned that an NGO (NonGovernmental Organizations) Forum would be organized, I wrote to sixty women's studies practitioners outside the United States, informing them of the badly-publicized NGO Forum itself, and inviting them to contribute to the planning of women's studies seminars. Eventually, The Feminist Press, the U.S. National Women's Studies Association, the Simone de Beauvoir Institute of Concordia University in Montreal, and the S.N.D.T. Women's University in Bombay, India, agreed to act as sponsors of women's studies sessions, and the May issue of the U.S. Women's Studies Newsletter further spread the word.
From the beginning, the idea of what might be done in Copenhagen was both modest and practical: to make use of an extended occasion during which an international group might be able to meet to talk about women's studies. Planners assumed also that it would be useful to share resource materials, and, of course, to include a formal "registry" for participants so that the dialogue might continue afterwards.