Jan 252010

God Bliss by Gila Svirsky

We have a weekend home in the sweetest little town in Israel – Nahariya. This small, northern town caresses the Mediterranean at a particularly picturesque location, and from our balcony we can watch the sailboats skimming along the placid sea. In the early morning, we see the fishing boats go out, a spotter aloft in the prow scanning the azure waters for fishy schools below, and in the evening we take drinks on that balcony (verbena tea for me) and watch the sun lower itself from a swirly pink sky and sizzle out into the sea. And then the dog has her last outing for the day, and we settle down to dinner and a good movie on TV. It could be bliss.

Last night I watched a popular weekly TV satire called “A Wonderful Country”, reprising Israel’s good deeds in sending a field hospital and PR team to Haiti. PR team? Yes, and well worth it, with the Israeli doctors saving lives and delivering babies enough to warrant many press releases. “Good job, good job, Israelis!” gush the patients. From under the rubble, one Hatian peers out and moans, “It was almost worth having an earthquake to meet all you wonderful folks from Israel.”

It’s hard work transforming international public opinion after the Israeli bombardment of Gaza one year ago, which played out so poorly in the Goldstone Report and European capitals. But in Israel, there’s no need to shift public opinion at all, after that very popular war. “What blockade? There’s no blockade of Gaza,” said my cousins in Jerusalem, who are as well informed as most Israelis. If you place a million people under siege and the local media are not there to cover it, does the siege exist?

And does protest exist, when the police crack down on peaceful demonstrators exercising their right to disagree with state policies? Over 700 protesters were arrested during the Gaza War for trying to make anti-war statements. Nonviolent demonstrators who march every Friday in Palestinian villages where the Separation Barrier is being erected have experienced live fire, stun grenades, tear gas, and new forms of crowd control – the “skunk guns” that smelled so bad even the police were forced to stop using them. These methods have already caused deaths and injuries. Ongoing protests in East Jerusalem against the eviction of Palestinians from their homes to make room for settlers have met with more arrests and brutality. Last week, to the misfortune of the police, they also arrested the director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, a bad way to improve relations with civil society.

So is it all about image? Inside Israel, it’s about no image. Israeli media carried no reporting whatsoever from inside Gaza during the bombardment, and it was considered subversive during the fighting to listen to reports from CNN, the BBC or, God forbid, al-Jazeera. It is still forbidden for Israeli journalists to enter Gaza and report how families are bearing up in homes with gaping holes in their roofs because Israel does not allow construction materials to be brought in. Now if the Gazans only lived in Haiti… As for the West Bank, why should the journalists bother? Brutality by the army is not new and hence not newsworthy. To catch anybody’s attention, human rights organizations like B’Tselem have to resort to teaser headlines, smart animations, and videos of Gaza rappers (full disclosure, I’m affiliated with B’Tselem).

So here’s what grabbed the headlines in Israel all week: Sarah Netanyahu, the prime minister’s wife, was accused of underpaying and overworking the cleaning lady. If you’re out and about in Israel, you better have a clear opinion about this: Is it true, or just a plot to undermine the peace plan that our Prime Minister is eager to launch? Here’s a hint: Riding by our demonstration for economic justice several years ago, Sarah Netanyahu got out of her chauffeur-driven car to share her views with us: “If I get along on minimum wage,” said Sarah, “anyone can.” One hardly knows where to begin.

There is a country full of people on this beautiful Saturday afternoon watching the sailboats skim by, driving out to catch the fields full of red poppies after the heavy winter rains, or walking their dogs through daffodils. But they won’t be crossing the Separation Barrier anytime soon to witness the horrors on the other side, and the news on TV in the evening won’t bring that horror into their homes. “What occupation?” is now the most common reaction of passersby to our Women in Black vigil in Jerusalem. For the young, it’s an honest question; for the older, it’s a smirk and walk on.


Cross-posted with Gila Svirsky’s kind permission.

 January 25, 2010  Posted by on January 25, 2010 Comments Off on Gila Svirsky–God Bliss
Jan 252010

We have a bit of a victory in the protest of Thomson Reuters and Aurora’s reference to InternationalWomensDay.com as the official IWD site.  The word ‘official’ is no longer in their metatags.  However the response I received this morning from Julia Fuller who is their Global Head of Corporate Responsibility still leaves quite a lot to be desired. Her letter and my response follow below.

I have no idea how many of you answered my original call to write to Aurora and Thomson Fuller regarding this usurpation of IWD for commercial gain, but apparently enough so that they are listening.  Please please keep those letters up (Please write to InternationalWomensDay.com here and to Reuters here)–they are listening!  In the meantime, we continue to call for a boycott of the site.

Dear Ms Marshall

Thank you for your emails.   We have now looked into this matter.

The IWD website refers to Thomson Reuters as Global Partner and the website states: “The International Women’s Day website provides a free service to women around the world wanting to share and promote their IWD activity, videos, opinions and ideas. Please feel free to submit gender-related items for the site that you consider relevant and useful.” The word “official” is not used at any point on the website although it did appear in a piece of background html code.   This word has now been removed from that background code.

It is clear that the IWD site does not purport to be “official”, but merely to act as a forum for individuals and organisations around the world to share and promote IWD activity, opinions and ideas. Thomson Reuters is wholly committed to equality in the workplace, transparency and accuracy and is proud to be working with Aurora and other individuals and organisations around the world to develop talent, encourage workplace diversity and to actively support organisations that share our commitment to these values.    Thomson Reuters involvement with the IWD site extends to the provision of news feeds which contain gender relevant content around a number of themes including science and innovation, justice, health and business and finance.  Hence our partnership is more refined than simply posting irrelevant Reuters news stories onto the site.

Please note, that Glenda Stone is not an employee or contractor at Reuters, but guest blogs on reuters.com, where it clearly states that her opinions are her own and not those of the company

To read more about our ongoing commitment to equality and diversity, please see:http://careers.thomsonreuters.com/LifeAtThomsonReuters/Default.aspx?id=128



Julia Fuller
Global Head of Corporate Responsibility
Thomson Reuters

And my response:

Dear Ms. Fuller,

I appreciate your prompt reply and that the word ‘official’ is no longer part of your code.  However, your code still includes the following meta tag:

<meta name=”DESCRIPTION” content=”The International Women’s Day website”/>

InternationalWomensDay.com is not The site, there simply is no such thing and it is an affront to usurp that  title from the thousands of women  that work on IWD awareness throughout the world.  The word ‘the’ should also be removed from your tags.

As to your assertion that, ” Thomson Reuters involvement with the IWD site extends to the provision of news feeds which contain gender relevant content around a number of themes including science and innovation, justice, health and business and finance.  Hence our partnership is more refined than simply posting irrelevant Reuters news stories onto the site.”– I would disagree.  Fully half of the tabs at the top of the page are to Reuters content. Here are some of the stories linked to on your business page.  I have no idea what these have to do with International Women’s Day or why these are considered gender-relevant:

Stock futures rebound after sharp 3-day selloff <http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6030ZW20100125?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=businessNews&amp;rpc=6>
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 07:16:49 -0500
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures pointed to a 1 percent rise on Monday after the worst 3-day slide in 10 months, which came on fears that the White House plan to curb bank risk-taking would cut profits.

Wal-Mart cuts 11,200 jobs at Sam’s Club <http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60N1OF20100125?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=businessNews&amp;rpc=6>
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 06:43:59 -0500
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Sam’s Club, the warehouse club division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc is cutting roughly 11,200 jobs, or about 10 percent of its workforce, as it outsources in-store product demonstrations and eliminates positions used to recruit new business members.

China steps up defense of Internet controls <http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60L1DK20100125?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=businessNews&amp;rpc=6>
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 07:05:35 -0500
BEIJING (Reuters) – China widened its attack against U.S. criticisms of Internet censorship on Monday, raising the stakes in a dispute that has put Google in the middle of a political quarrel between the two global powers.

Italy’s Ferrero rules out bidding for Cadbury <http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60O17I20100125?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=businessNews&amp;rpc=6>
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 03:30:08 -0500
LONDON (Reuters) – Italy’s Ferrero has ruled out a rival bid for Cadbury Plc, clearing the way for Kraft Foods to complete its 11.7 billion-pound ($18.9 billion) proposed takeover of the British confectioner.

Tishman venture abandons Stuyvesant complex: report <http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60O1M820100125?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=businessNews&amp;rpc=6>
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 04:09:40 -0500
(Reuters) – A group led by Tishman Speyer Properties has decided to give up the sprawling Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town apartment complex in Manhattan to its creditors in the collapse of one of the most high-profile deals of the real-estate boom, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

AIG restricts use of corporate aircraft <http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60O2CF20100125?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=businessNews&amp;rpc=6>
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 07:00:19 -0500
(Reuters) – American International Group Inc said it has restricted the personal use of corporate aircraft by its executives, other than its chief executive.

Obama plan could hurt U.S. banks: Swiss banker <http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60O12320100125?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=businessNews&amp;rpc=6>
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 02:02:19 -0500
ZURICH (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s proposals to split traditional banking activities from riskier areas will harm U.S. banks without international co-ordination, a prominent Swiss banker said in Monday’s Financial Times.

Shell CEO says to scale back on oil sands: report <http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60O00620100125?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=businessNews&amp;rpc=6>
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 03:47:31 -0500
LONDON (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell is slowing its expansion into high-cost Canadian tar sands and will in future focus on exploration, rather than expensive, capital-intensive projects, Chief Executive Peter Voser said in Monday’s edition of the Financial Times.

China economist sees 2010 GDP up 9.5 percent <http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60O08M20100125?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=businessNews&amp;rpc=6>
Sun, 24 Jan 2010 21:11:03 -0500
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s gross domestic product growth is likely to grow about 9.5 percent in 2010, largely driven by strong domestic consumption and corporate investment, a government researcher said in remarks published on Monday.

Oil steadies below $75, close to one-month low <http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5B30OK20100125?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=businessNews&amp;rpc=6>
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 06:24:45 -0500
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices steadied below $75 a barrel on Monday, after slipping toward a one-month low on continued market unease over possible tighter Chinese monetary policy and a U.S. proposal to toughen bank trading rules.

The other pages of links are equally irrelevant to IWD.  On your page about jobs, there is no source information, just data that is irrelevant if people don’t know where it came from.  There are a number of excellent sources for news stories that are relevant to IWD and women’s human rights.  The Feminist Peace Network blog references this sort of story on a regular basis and I would be happy to help you build a database of relevant news sources.

Finally, I am wondering if you consulted with any of the major women’s organizations that work with global women’s human rights organizations before you organized this page.  While developing talent and workplace diversity are important, they are only a part of what IWD is about and for a website like this to truly work there should certainly be some sort of advisory board that reflects non-commercial interests within the global women’s advocacy community.  I see no evidence of that here.

I hope that you will give this matter the further consideration it deserves.


Lucinda Marshall, Director
Feminist Peace Network

There you have it–please keep writing to them.  IWD is our day and this sort of cause-branding is reprehensible and unacceptable and it needs to stop.  If you do write, please send a copy to fpn@feministpeacenetwork.org.

 January 25, 2010  Posted by on January 25, 2010 Comments Off on Thomson Reuters Still Doesn’t Get It–The InternationalWomensDay.com Boycott Continues
Jan 222010

This is the response I received from Reuters regarding FPN’s objection to their callous cause-branding of International Women’s Day via the InternationalWomensDay.com website.  (see earlier posts here and here), as well as my response.

Dear Ms Marshall,

Many thanks for your email below. We are looking in to the points you make and the issue as a whole and will revert to you as soon as we have investigated fully.

Kind regards

Melissa Berry
Director of Global Sponsorships and Client Events

Thomson Reuters

Dear Ms. Berry,

Thank you for following up on this matter.  I want to also call your attention to our expanded call for a boycott of InternationalWomensDay.com based on further investigation of the site.

Using International Women’s Day as a cause-branding opportunity is not acceptable.  That the website includes significant portions that have absolutely nothing to do with IWD and merely point readers to your product is opportunism at its worst.  International Women’s Day celebrates women’s human rights, not a marketing opportunity and we call for Thomson Reuters and Aurora to cease their callous disregard for this immediately.


Lucinda Marshall, Director
Feminist Peace Network

Stay tuned…

 January 22, 2010  Posted by on January 22, 2010 Comments Off on Thomson Reuters Follows Up And FPN Responds
Jan 212010

Yesterday I published a post objecting to InternationalWomensDay.com billing itself as “The” IWD website. My objections are that there is no such thing as one official site and secondly the blatant attempt at corporate branding is totally unacceptable.

This morning I engaged in a back and forth on Twitter with @Reuters_Women. According to InternationalWomensDay.com, that  is the, “IWD Reuters_Women Twitter feed proudly provided by Thomson Reuters”  If you look up the Reuters_Women profile on Twitter, it says that it is maintained by Julie Mollins who apparently is an online editor at Thomson Reuters.

Here is our dialog, which speaks for itself (note–start with number 9 and read up, it is the way Twitter displays tweets).

  1. Zetkin_normal Reuters_Women @Fempeace Thanks. I appreciate your feedback and opinions. Good luck with your #iwd efforts. about 3 hours ago from HootSuite

  2. She_for_twitter_normal Fempeace @Reuters_Women pls also delete from yr site metatags. Also yr Twittername implies Reuters sponsors IWD, not cool. about 3 hours ago from web

  3. Zetkin_normal Reuters_Women @Fempeace Ah. OK. I take your point. I have deleted “the” from the Twitter bio. about 4 hours ago from HootSuite

  4. She_for_twitter_normal Fempeace @Reuters_Women metatags no longer say ‘official’ but you still call yrself ‘the’ #iwd site–there are many iwd sites, there is no ‘the’ site about 4 hours ago from web

  5. She_for_twitter_normal Fempeace Yr @Reuters_Women implies that @ThomsonReuters cause-branding #IWD as well #feminist #fem2 about 4 hours ago from web

  6. She_for_twitter_normal Fempeace @Reuters_Women yes you do call it official in your metatags. Corporate cause branding of #IWD is unacceptable. #feminist #fem2 about 4 hours ago from web

  7. Zetkin_normal Reuters_Women @Fempeace Hi there. We don’t call it “official”. about 5 hours ago from HootSuite

  8. She_for_twitter_normal Fempeace @Reuters_Womenhttp://tinyurl.com/yh5lrg7 isnt “Official” IWD site, pls quit calling yrself that. http://tinyurl.com/yk6hjp6 #iwd about 5 hours ago from web

  9. She_for_twitter_normal Fempeace @Reuters_Womenhttp://tinyurl.com/yh5lrg7 isnt “Official” IWD site, pls quit calling yrself that. http://tinyurl.com/yk6hjp6 #fem2 #feminist about 5 hours ago from web

Satisfactory?  Not hardly.  The website metatags still refers to “The International Women’s Day website”, which has profound implications on search engines, such as Google:

meta name=”DESCRIPTION” content=”The International Women’s Day website”

More insidiously, I went back to look more thoroughly at the International Women’s Day website itself. At the top there are tabs to pages not only about International Women’s Day but also Jobs (which without attribution as to source provides a list of jobs in “progressive organisations” and “progressive organisations” (actually they are not organizations, they are corporations) that support women’s advancement (again without saying how they came up with this list), Business & Finance, Science & Technology, Justice and Health (the latter categories lead to pages of Reuters news links.  Huh?  Why exactly are these on “The” International Women’s Day website??

At that point I decided to do a little looksee at Thomson Reuters.  I mean I know Reuters is  a news agency, but  I had not been aware that it was part of a larger conglomerate.  But sure enough…in addition to media, the company also has financial, healthcare, legal, science, and tax and accounting interests.  Which certainly should make us question the bias in any Reuters ‘news’ story.  But that is another subject.  What is clear here  is that Thomson Reuters and Aurora (read here for a fun critique of Aurora’s Glenda Stone) are cause-branding International Women’s Day and that is unacceptable.  Imagine if a corporation did that with Martin Luther King Day!

The Feminist Peace Network continues to call for Thomson Reuters and Aurora to cease calling InternationalWomensDay.com “The” International Women’s Day website in their metatags and to immediately remove the pages that link to business concerns and Reuters news stories that are entirely irrelevant to IWD.  In the meantime, we call for a boycott of the site and ask that you not use the logo that they provide, it has not been chosen by anyone but themselves.

Please write to InternationalWomensDay.com here and to Reuters here.

To learn more about International Women’s Day itself and the many organizations that work to make it happen (without commerical interest), Feminist Peace Network has a resource page here.

 January 21, 2010  Posted by on January 21, 2010 1 Response »
Jan 202010

As women around the world prepare to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th, the Feminist Peace Network would once again like to express its concern regarding a website called InternationalWomensDay.com which falsely bills itself as the official International Women’s Day website.

The website is run by a woman named Glenda Stone who is the, ” chief executive and founder of Aurora, a recruitment advertising and market intelligence company.”  She also writes a blog for Reuters.  Thomson Reuters is listed as a “global partner” on Stone’s website.

While all efforts to publicize and promote IWD are always welcome, it is essential to understand that there is no one sponsor of the day’s events, planning is done by individual women and organizations in countries throughout the world.  For Ms. Stone’s  company, Aurora and particularly for Thomson Reuters, a news concern to have the effrontery to use this as an opportunity for cause branding with no authority but their own is unacceptable.   While Ms. Stone’s work to promote IWD is welcome, The Feminist Peace Network calls on her to immediately quit calling her website the official website for International Women’s Day and for Thomson Reuters to quit supporting this false claim.

Please write to InternationalWomensDay.com here and to Reuters here.

To learn more about International Women’s Day itself and the many organizations that work to make it happen, Feminist Peace Network has a resource page here.

 January 20, 2010  Posted by on January 20, 2010 1 Response »