International Women's Day 2010: Celebrating around the world
History behind International Women's Day: The event originated in 1908 when women garment makers in New York demonstrated to demand better working conditions. Then in 1910 an international conference of women resolved that each year a day should be set aside to press for women's demands. Since then International Women's Day has been celebrated around the world each year on 8 March. From its inception, International Women's Day has stood for equality between women and men. The United Nations Charter, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men.
Rashida Manjoo, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, together with the other UN independent experts, called today for a new vision of women’s rights informed by the lessons learnt from the 15 year review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, warning that: '... old challenges in the protection of women’s rights remain, such as multiple forms of discrimination. In addition, new challenges have emerged in conjunction with phenomena like the global financial crisis, political violence, displacement and migration, and the acceleration in environmental degradation. The continued use of brutal violence against women, including sexual violence, as a weapon of war in conflict situations also remains a pressing concern. At the domestic level, lack of implementation of laws and other commitments to secure women’s rights, and the lack of gender sensitive budgetary policies, remain chronic problems....'
Rebellion by women against an unjust global economic order is, however, very much alive. In Iran, women are revolting against an oppressive regime; in Gaza and the West Bank, Palestinian women are organizing an international boycott of Israel; in Italy, France and Spain, immigrant women went on strike against xenophobic racism; in Australia, feminists convened a national conference to coordinate and re-energize the abortion rights movement; in Mexico, women staunchly defend striking mine workers who fight for basic labour and human rights.
While we learn that in Afghanistan, ambivalence, impunity, weak law enforcement and corruption continue to undermine women’s rights, despite a July 2009 law banning violence against women, and in an open letter to the United Nations Secretary General, the European Women's Lobby declares that "The 54th Session of the CSW...represents a step backwards by its failure to offer a new vision and mechanisms for implementation", we take a quick tour around the world, looking at some of the ways that IWD is being celebrated in spite of the spread of fundamentalisms and militarisation:
WEMC Partners’ activities to honour IWD:
The Institute for Gender Studies in Oxford contributes every year to the 2 week long Oxford International Women's Festival on different themes organised by the Department of international Development. The theme of 2010 is 'Grassroots and Glass Ceilings' , with a Roundtable and an exhibition open to both the academic and non-academic communities, and will feature WEMC activities and partners' work. In Lanzhou and in Henan, all partners take part in local events and will share with the community of women how they make a difference. Tentatively, the documentary on the oldest women’s Mosque – Kaifeng Women’s Mosque, made by the Henan team, will be shown.
WEMC-Semarak Cerlang Nusa will hold a meeting/discussion on March 8 with 40 participants (mainly from NGOs) to discuss the book Knowing Our Rights (Indonesian version) and how it can be a reference document for the current issue in Indonesia - the unregistered marriage, which leaves women without any rights under the law. Women’s organisations are advocating for revival of a Bill which criminalises men who enter into such marriages. WEMC -Solidaritas Perempuan is focusing its March 8th efforts this year on reviving this Bill, which prohibits a man from contracting a polygamous marriage without the express permission of his existing wife, which would in turn limit the occurrences of the exploitative temporary marriages. The campaign includes producing post cards with key points of the petition, a fact sheet on the issue and press releases through SP's media network.
WEMC-Shirkat Gah is part of SG’s efforts with other human rights groups to support peasant women who will gather in Lahore from all over the Punjab province to convince the provincial government to emulate a Sindh-based scheme of land distribution to women which they learned of through WEMC. Indeed the two formal peasant women's organisations associated with the Punjab Peasants' Association were catalysed through WEMC research. WEMC shall accompany the women and also film them to complete the SG-WEMC film on the peasant women’s struggle.
Senegal – WLUML-SKSW
As part of the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women (SKSW), on the 5 March there was a day of reflection and a workshop addressing the theme of ‘Violence is not our culture’ and from the 8 to 22 March, there is an exhibition of women artists at the Leopold Sedar Senghor gallery.
Serbia - Women in Black
WIB held a march through the central streets of Belgrade. On one of the banners was written: "Iranian women you are not alone; solidarity with Iranian women." Afterwards,
WIB gave a powerpoint presentation on the present situation in Iran and all the grave challenges Iranian women are facing.
Jordan - Sisterhood is Global Institute
Women’s Rights organizations are taking today’s opportunity to celebrate the success of the Beijing Platform in the Arab world by discussing the achievements and further targets to be achieved.
UNESCO is celebrating International Women’s Day with a series of events at the Headquarters in Paris from 8 to 19 March. The programme includes round tables, exhibitions, a concert and a film, all highlighting issues linked to women’s empowerment and the promotion of gender equality.
Brussels - Women's World March
On March 6 the Belgian Women's World March celebrated the 100th International Women's Day. 5000 women and men marched through the streets of Brussels in a festive and militant march calling for justice, equality, peace and solidarity.
United States- CWGL
The Center For Women's Global Leadership's 20th Anniversary Symposium on 6 March featured prominent speakers from the global women’s movement reflecting on body economy movement as well as taking the opportunity to celebrate IWD by hosting a dance party.
United States- National Radical Women
'Radical Women' unites in solidarity with all their sisters and brothers around the world who are marching, protesting, and raising their voices to win a socialist future where all people have not only bread, but roses too! Queers and their allies are agitating for equality in all aspects of life. On university and college campuses, young women are organizing strikes and conferences in answer to the draconian cuts and tuition hikes that politicians of both parties are implementing to balance shrinking state budgets.
Iran - Amnesty International
Amnesty International supports calls for gender equality as activists are arrested and discrimination is entrenched. Amnesty International has signed up to support a call for freedom and gender equality made by Iranian women’s rights activists ahead of International Women’s Day. The activists are asking organizations and individuals outside Iran to echo their call and to act as a voice when their own are silenced through repression.
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