Mar 072012
 

As we observe and celebrate International Women’s Day 2012, it should escape no one’s notice that this last year has been a pivotal one for women’s empowerment and rights.  With the Arab Spring we saw the strong and courageous activism of women across the Middle East leading the movement for change.  Despite that, progress towards women’s equality in the region has been discouraging and it has become painfully clear that the revolutions that took place, while in large part depending on women’s participation, did not have women’s interests at heart.  Despite that, it was thrilling to have the Nobel Peace Prize shared by a woman from Yemen and two women from Liberia for their pivotal work in advocating for peaceful change.

As I write this, it has occurred to me that FPN’s focus this past  year been far more geared towards women’s rights in the U.S. than it has in the past.  And with good reason.  Women’s lives are under siege in the U.S.  In recent weeks we have been called sluts and whores, our right to control our own reproductive health is under the worst attack since Roe v Wade.  Yet women are striking back in unprecedented numbers and ways.  As we go forward, it is clear that the attacks against women, whether they be in the form of rape in the Congo and Somalia, maternal mortality because of appalling health care in Afghanistan, murders in Mexico, human trafficking in Southeast Asia or attacks on reproductive health in the U.S. will continue.  But we know we are strong and getting stronger and we will not stop until women everywhere have equal rights.

Please be sure to check out Gender Across Borders wonderful annual IWD blogathon.

Also check out this very inspiring post from Women Deliver that looks at progress being made on behalf of women and girls worldwide.  Amnesty International has a great post on IWD from an international perspective.

International Women’s Day in Iraq:

And this call to action from Barcelona (warning, VERY GRAPHIC, probably best not to watch near children or at work):

Finally this bit of IWD Fail from Oxfam:

Sorry, IWD is not about buying stuff, no matter what the organization or company it benefits.  And it is especially not about buying such stereotypical girly stuff like craft kits and gravy boats.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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 March 7, 2012  Posted by on March 7, 2012 Comments Off
Feb 282012
 

The InternationalWomen’sDay.com website has added yet another corporate sponsor, EON. If you are perhaps baffled about why a website that has usurped the name of the most significant global celebration of women’s lives and rights of the year has corporate sponsors, Glenda Stone who started the website and runs it without input from women’s rights organizations explains,

Without their support, the website could not survive. Each Supporting Partner has a firm track record in supporting women’s equality and advancement. We like to celebrate International Women’s Day, but we also want to celebrate our Supporting Partners! We urge you to acknowledge them whenever you can.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but one of the central screaming reasons that IWD is so necessary is the continued corporate exploitation of women.  Women’s rights organizations throughout the world run websites and do their work without corporate cause-branding but Ms. Stone runs her site by allowing placement of ads such as this which clearly serve the interest of the corporation, not women:

As we have pointed out numerous times before, this website is primarily an opportunity for the corporate cause branding of International Women’s Day.  In sharp contrast, take a look at the sponsorship page for the Meet Me On The Street Anti-Street Harassment Week Campaign.  There are too many sponsors to capture in one screenshot, but here are a few of the many non-corporate woman-positive  sponsors:

Full disclousre–FPN is also a co-sponsor of the Meet Me On The Street Campaign, which proves most righteously that it is possible to run a successful campaign and website without selling out to corporate interests as InternationalWomensDay.com does.  Once again, the Feminist Peace Network calls on Ms. Stone and her corporate sponsors to do the right thing and quit using International Women’s Day for callous corporate cause branding.  InternationalWomensDay.com is NOT the official IWD website, there is no such thing and it should be boycotted.

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 February 28, 2012  Posted by on February 28, 2012 2 Responses »
Feb 222012
 

AF3IRM celebrates IWD in New York:

On March 8th, 6-9 pm, feminists and allies are invited to join the New York chapter of AF3IRM to celebrate women’s work and working women at a cash bar mixer at Madame X, 94 West Houston, Manhattan, NY 10012.

“On this day, we must think of how women through the centuries do the work that enables all work to be done,” said Leilani Montes, chapter coordinator.  “This means recognizing the value of the unheralded and the mundane tasks women do, from the home to the office to the factory and fields.”

Feminism, Ms. Montes added, is to “the level of the day’s most quiet needs.”

In recognizing women’s work and working women, the Association of Filipinas, Feminists Fighting Imperialism, Re-feudalization and Marginalization (AF3IRM) marks the launch of the organization’s new national campaign against sub-contracting, de-unionization and labor trafficking through the guest worker program of the United States.

“Outsourcing has come home to roost,” said Ms. Montes.  “We are seeing entire corporate departments sub-contracted to outside companies, which in turn bring in migrant workers under trafficked conditions.”

A call to strike from Mimi Yahn:

We are not not a special interest group, we are half the world. Our society’s current patriarchal model of subjugation and exploitation influences every aspect of life on our planet and it excludes women at all levels: from decision-making and governing, from negotiating peace and ending wars, from organizing movements, from long-term economic, social, and environmental planning, even from sharing in life’s bounties.

We are the working class of the working class, the 99% of the 99%. And in virtually every nation across the globe, we have no equal status as citizens or even human beings. We are hunted and murdered like animals, we are bought and sold like property, we are silenced and erased from history and public life. We have no choice but to stand up for our rights and our lives. And men have no choice but to support us as allies if they ever want a world free of brutal injustice.

If you’re still not sure if you want to strike, then do it for the millions of women who cannot. Do it for the women who are struggling to feed their families; for the women who earn one-half to three-quarters of what men earn; for the women who became homeless in order to escape brutal beatings; who have been denied health care, reproductive care, contraception or abortion; for the women who cannot vote, cannot drive, cannot own property, cannot be seen in public without a man; for the women who have been beaten, tortured, raped, and sexually degraded; do it for the girls whose genitals have been mutilated and destroyed; for the women who are beaten by husbands, boyfriends, fathers and brothers; for the women who were been beaten into believing they were crazy, hysterical, neurotic; for the women who’ve been denied medical insurance because domestic violence is a pre-existing condition; for the women imprisoned in rape camps in war zones; for the women and girls who’ve been sold into sexual and domestic slavery; for the women whose legal and civil rights have been eliminated; for the women who have yet to gain legal and civil rights; and do it for the women and girls who are no longer with us because of dowry murders, acid attacks, honor killings, domestic violence, and the dozens of gender hate crimes perpetrated every day.

Do it for the women of Juarez, Tahrir Square, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Rwanda, the Congo, King County, Montreal, Suffolk County and everywhere else women and girls have been targeted and murdered for the sole “crime” of their gender.

Do it for our daughters whose future must not be the same.

Learn more about Join Me On The Bridge IWD events here.

And Rae Abiliah explains why Code Pink’s WomenOccupy is calling for the occupation of Bank of America on IWD here.

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 February 22, 2012  Posted by on February 22, 2012 2 Responses »
Mar 092011
 

International Women’s Day is celebrated throughout the world by numerous organizations and women in a large variety of ways.  Sort of like Christmas.  As we’ve noted for the last several years, it is truly objectionable that the corporate-run InternationalWomensDay.com website bills itself as ‘the’ International Women’s Day website.  Yes it provides some good resources, but so do a lot of other sites and because of the decentralized global nature of IWD, there simply is no such thing as an official site and it is misleading to claim to be such.

Yesterday, the site’s founder, Glenda Stone, took the usurpation to new levels with a press release about the website being hacked, referring to the site as “the global hub” for International Women’s Day.  To be very clear, FPN is opposed to anyone’s site being hacked, and if in fact it was done deliberately on IWD (which Ms. Stone asserts but does not back up with facts), it is worrisome.  We’ve been on the receiving end of that and it is expensive, time-consuming and no fun to recover from and not a productive tactic for fostering dialog or change.

But that does not change the fact that it is absolutely wrong to presume that a private site is so central to IWD.  It isn’t and I feel quite sure we would all carry on with our observances without the site, just as we did before the site existed.

Yesterday I also become aware for the first time that there is an InternationalWomensDay.org website, run by the Women’s Information Network, and yes, you guessed it, it is also a private venture organized by motivational speaker Dr Paula Fellingham. The website seems to be geared towards getting participants to attend events that cost $35 per ticket.  And why would you pay that? Because the program included a “Buns of Steel” star talking about “How to Have the Body Your Body Wants to Be” and a soap opera star was on the agenda as well.  And move over Bread and Roses, they have an original IWD theme song.

It is truly unfortunate that a responsible organization, such as  the U.N., did not safeguard these urls, and even more unfortunate that they have been callously taken over by private parties. While wishing Ms. Stone and Dr. Fellingham the best in their personal ventures, FPN urges both of them to do the right thing and quit using these sites in privately directed ways.  Well intentioned though they may, at least in part be, both sites are self-serving and a true disservice to the women of the world.

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 March 9, 2011  Posted by on March 9, 2011 Comments Off
Mar 072011
 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.  It is a time to celebrate the lives of women and to renew our commitment to women’s human rights throughout the world.

That it is even necessary to have such a day should give us pause.  There is not, after all, an International Men’s Day.  But the truth is that while women may be half of the world’s population, they most assuredly are not equal stakeholders when it comes to human rights and empowerment.

An early International Women's Day event

Here in the U.S., women’s reproductive health rights are under sustained siege as never before.  In the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Sudan women are raped with impunity.  In Mexico and Guatemala, thousands of women have gone missing and been brutally murdered and the perpetrators roam freely.  Honor killings continue to be a huge problem in the Middle East and female genital mutilation is still a common practice in many parts of Africa.  In southeast Asia and eastern Europe, women are trafficked into sexual slavery.  In India there are dowry murders.

Million Women Rise March in London

The above isn’t even close to an exhaustive list of human rights violations perpetrated against women, but merely serves to illustrate that misogyny in its many guises is globally systemic.  There are so many people working to stop these atrocities, but yet they continue unabated, year in and year out for the very simple reason that putting a halt to them challenges the patriarchal power structure that controls our world.

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the enormity of tackling even one of the problems discussed above.  The idea of addressing them in their entirety seems beyond human power. But indeed, for women to be fully empowered, we must insist that the connections between individual misogynies be made and that the problem be addressed in full.  And yes, that implies profound changes for both men and women, but they are changes for the common good and on this 100th anniversary of IWD, we must find the will to make it so.  Anything less imperils us all.

IWD poster from Russia

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 March 7, 2011  Posted by on March 7, 2011 1 Response »