top of page

Our History

The 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston spurred a movement to unite women’s organizations across the U.S. in collective action.

By the early 1980s that spirit rippled through many South Dakota groups. In Sioux Falls, the Y.W.C.A. was the catalyst and home for a local, organizationally based women’s network. In Rapid City, the networking torch was carried by the local branch of the American Association of University Women. Rapid City AAUW hosted its statewide conference in 1983, inviting Sarah Harder, a National Women’s Conference Committee leader, as its keynote speaker.

In the summer of that year, state associations of AAUW and the National Organization for Women met simultaneously in Pierre. Both passed resolutions to create a statewide network for women’s organizations. AAUW assigned the task of creating the network to Cheryl (Kandaras) Chapman and Candy Hanson.

In March of 1984, representatives from statewide associations met in Sioux Falls and adopted bylaws and Articles of Incorporation for the South Dakota Advocacy Network for Women.

From then until 2013, SDANW organizational and individual members hosted a women’s legislative day – eventually known as “Women 4 Women” – in Pierre during session and employed a lobbyist to represent their interests. Their accomplishments included passage of bills to

  • Underwrite Victims Assistance programs and protect the rights of victims of domestic violence

  • Create Fetal Alcohol education programs

  • Pass an increase in marriage license fees to fund services to victims of domestic violence

  • Expand childcare assistance payments through the state’s childcare assistance program

  • Ensure mandatory insurance coverage for mammograms

  • Increase welfare benefits for low-income families and single parents

  • Defeat efforts to restrict access to abortion

In the early 2000s, many of the organizations that formed the traditional core of SDANW’s leadership began to dissolve. Other organizations came forward to take the leadership role in challenging proposals that threatened women’s reproductive rights. In 2017, the small group of board members who had sustained SDANW formally dissolved.

When the Supreme Court of the U.S. rescinded Roe v. Wade in the summer of 2022, former members of SDANW reviewed the 1977 National Plan of Action and realized that in the last 45 years not one of its goals had been unequivocally achieved. That team is working now to reboot the Network and revitalize efforts to work toward women’s equality and equity.

bottom of page