- NAME: Bella Abzug
- OCCUPATION: Women's Rights Activist, Anti-War Activist, Lawyer, U.S. Representative
- BIRTH DATE: July 24, 1920
- DEATH DATE: March 31, 1998
- EDUCATION: Walton High School, Hunter College, Columbia University, Columbia Law School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
- PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
- Maiden Name: Bella Savitzky
- AKA: Bella Abzug
- AKA: Bella Savitsky
- Full Name: Bella Savitsky Abzug
- AKA: Bella Savitzky Abzug
Best Known For
Bella Abzug was a leading liberal activist and politician in the 1960s and 1970s, especially known for her work for women’s rights.
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But the hats weren't just an interesting fashion choice. She once explained that when she started her career that "Working women work hats. It was the only way they would take you seriously," according to the Boston Globe.
In 1976, Abzug ran for the U.S. Senate. She suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, losing by a margin of only 1 percent. After leaving the House in 1977, Abzug made a bid for mayor of New York City, but lost to Ed Koch in the primaries. She was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to co-chair the National Advisory Committee for Women in 1978. Carter dismissed the outspoken Abzug the following year.
Abzug tried again for public office in 1986. She ran for a seat in the House of Representatives for New York's Westchester County, but she lost out to her Republican opponent. While public office eluded her, she continued to work on many causes in the 1980s and 1990s. Abzug also established the Women’s Environmental Development Organization.
In the mid-1990s, Abzug began to have health problems. She battled breast cancer, but she didn't let the disease prevent her from doing her life's work. She traveled to China in 1995 for the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women.
In early 1998, Abzug was admitted to a New York City hospital with heart trouble. She died on March 31, 1998, from complications following heart surgery. She was married to Martin Abzug from 1944 until his death; the couple had two daughters.
Friends and allies mourned the passing of this great political powerhouse. Her onetime opponent, Ed Koch, said "The women of the world, not just the country, owe her a great debt. She stood up for them as nobody else. She was their champion," he told the Boston Globe.
Today the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute is working to maintain her legacy. The organization helps support and train young women to become the leaders of tomorrow.
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When the 19th Amendment was ratified, women were finally given the right to vote, and over the years many courageous women have stepped onto the national political stage as well. In 1916, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to Congress and almost a century later Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina woman to serve on the Supreme Court. And within the last two decades, the esteemable Hillary Clinton has served as First Lady, a New York senator and Secretary of State. These women, and many more, are setting the stage for the future of female leaders in Washington.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women."
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