IWTC Women's GlobalNet #270

Activities and Initiatives of Women Worldwide 

By Mavic Cabrera-Balleza

February 14, 2005



Some 120,000 activists converged on the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre for the fifth World Social Forum (WSF), January 26-31, 2005. Held as a counterpoint to the World Economic Forum in Davos, the WSF reflects an anti-globalization, social rights perspective, and has been held every year for 5 years.

As reported in IWTC Women's GlobalNet #269, many feminist events were organized at WSF, including: 1) Beyond ICT4D*: A Feminist Dialogue (*ICT4D = Information Communication Technologies for Development); and

2) Feminist Dialogues on Militarism, Fundamentalism and Globalization.

These dialogues were broadcast live over streaming webcast by Feminist International Radio (FIRE).

Other events initiated by women's groups included: 1) Global Campaign against Poverty Launch; 2) Strategy Meeting: Women's Rights in Development; 3) Networking for Change and Empowerment: Building a Gender and ICT Policy Agenda in the Women's Movement; 4) Faith, Feminism and Fundamentalisms; 5) Where's the Money? Funding for Women's Human Rights Work a Decade After Beijing '95; 6) We don't want a few (Millennium) goals, we want all of the Platform (for Action, Beijing 95)! 7) Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice in the International Criminal Court; 8) Women's Empowerment and Community Media by the AMARC Women's International Network; 9) Migration and Sex Workers: 10) Dialogue Between Movements; 11) Looking at the Millennium Development Goals with a Gender Perspective; 12) Beijing+10 meets World Trade Organization+10; 13) Campaign for the Sexual Orientation Resolution at the UN Human Rights Commission; 14) Taking Action for Women's Rights… Beijing+10, MDGs and Beyond.


“The biggest achievement of the Feminist Dialogues for me was the actual face-to-face exchange among feminists who represent different issues and are putting forward different agenda,” declares tan beng hui, a feminist activist from Malaysia.

tan traveled from her home city of Kuala Lumpur to join around 300 women in the Feminist Dialogues that examined the interlinkages of militarism and war, fundamentalism/s and neo-liberal globalization from a feminist and gender, race, and class perspective. Held in Porto Alegre, Brazil from 23 to 25 January, in conjunction with the World Social Forum 2005, this year's Feminist Dialogue was the second gathering of various women's networks and feminists. It was part of an ongoing process of strengthening affinities and unities among women's groups and feminists who aim to revitalize a transnational women's movement and its solidarity actions with other social movements.

'”You need to dialogue and hear what people say-you can read about these things but it's different if you actually exchange. …and to be able to strategize effectively, you cannot spend a lot of time arguing about basic concepts [of feminism]. You need to meet with people who have a certain level of perspective and you must also come with an open mind,” tan elaborates. Most of the other Feminist Dialogue participants agreed with tan. They believe that the FD is useful as a space where women can come together with feminism as the focus.

The other achievement of this year's Feminist Dialogue was the diversity of the group. Around 30 countries were represented this year-certainly a lot more than the first dialogues in Mumbai, India in 2004. Moreover, there were participants from often under represented countries such as Burundi, Georgia, Iraq, Macedonia, Palestine, Surinam, Tonga, and Vietnam. Workshops on various topics such as reflections on globalization, militarism and fundamentalisms; and dilemmas of the feminist movement, yielded very good outcomes. They provided an opportunity for people to discuss to the point where they felt they could see what the next steps are and what the strategies should be.

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