IWTC Women's GlobalNet #325
Activities and Initiatives of Women Worldwide

International Women’s Day revisited
March 30, 2007
By Joeyta Bose

Governments, non-profit and international organizations across the world used International Women’s Day to launch new women-centred initiatives, pay tribute to outstanding women in their communities, engage with new ideas at forums and conferences, celebrate women’s achievements and stand up in solidarity against violence against women and gender inequality at rallies, strikes and sit-ins.  Yet, in the midst of these and other festivities, we confront the sobering thought that the attention paid to the situation of women, by governments, media and the world at large, on March 8 lasts for those 24 hours only, after which it’s business as usual. With this thought in mind we revisit some of the informative and festive events that unfolded on March 8, 2007 in capital cities and small towns around the world – not only to give an idea of the diversity and reach of these celebrations, but also to highlight the need for awareness about and action against the inequalities and insecurities that women contend with 365 days of
the year.
 

domestic violence FORUM; exhibit on exceptional women in Accra, Ghana
A forum on domestic violence in Ghana addressed several aspects of this phenomenon in the country. Anna Bossman, acting commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, spoke about the recent passage of the Domestic Violence Law and highlighted the fact that the exclusion of a section on marital rape left room for the continued perpetration of violence against women within the bounds of marriage.  
The Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs organized a photo exhibition for International Women’s Day on the theme “50 years of contribution of women to national development.” Speaking at the exhibition, Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, Hajia Alima Mahama, announced that a Hall of Fame will be established to honour women who have worked to improve the lives of Ghana’s people.

Tribute to Northern Territory women in Alice Springs, Australia
Key women in the Northern Territory community were feted at a luncheon celebration of International Women’s Day. Entitled the ‘A Tribute to NT Women: Their lives and opportunity,’ the festivities included awards to Delma Hird, a pioneer in the field of community health; Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, tireless advocate for Aboriginal people; and Libby Williams who has been instrumental in developing the Alice Springs Baseball Association. All three women spoke of their passion and achievements in their chosen field.

PARTY IN AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
Mama Cash, a foundation that funds women’s organizations worldwide, hosted a festive party to celebrate International Women’s Day and mark the end of their 88 Days Campaign. This campaign begins on International Human Rights Day (December 10) and raises money via e-mail and Internet in response to the growing awareness that women’s groups are receiving significantly less funding than they did five years ago.
Learn more at: 88days.mamacash.org

 

New website out of California, USA gives voice to women journalists around the world
Aiming to address the under-representation of women in media and to offer breaking news stories from a women’s perspective, a news and opinions website called The Women’s International Perspective (www.thewip.net) went online on March 8. The site features articles about headline worthy issues, authored by an international group of contributing writers, and includes headlines and stories, from female journalists, that have appeared in prominent newspapers and other media across the globe.

Browse the site at: http://www.thewip.net/ and contact Sarah McGowan, Content Editor, at sarah.mcgowan@thewip.net with queries

 

Celebration of peace at meet among 12 tribes in Darfur, Sudan

Women and men from the Masaleet, Dinka, Arab, Falata, Dinariah, Fur, Tama, Hausa, Zagawa, Kenin, Umregbath, and Hakamat tribes came together for the first time in history to celebrate International Women’s Day with poetry, song, music and to dance their tribal dances. Organized by the Um Jumma Women’s Charitable Society and UNDP Sudan, the event attracted over 400 people and included tribal festivities conducted by the women of each tribe.

One of the events at this celebration, the Hakamat Festival, showcased powerful poems for peace and the empowerment of women.  The Hakamat women, who performed these poems, have conventionally used their verse to ridicule and excommunicate members of their tribe who step out of line and, as a result, are feared and respected by men.  Though they have traditionally supported the war, they now want peace in the region and advocate for this position with their powers of persuasive poetry.

Other activities included the distribution of jerry cans, for additional water storage, to women and a football match between youth and staff from humanitarian organizations at the Abu Shouk camp for internally displaced people.

 

Rally against violence against women and children in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Nari Unnayan Shakti, a Dhaka-based organization that works on advancing women’s human rights and on HIV/AIDS, organized 50 events in 9 districts in the country. One of these was a mass rally, followed by a candlelight vigil, against violence against women and children, while another was a discussion group about the vulnerabilities of migrant women.

  

Award for outstanding women in Francistown, Botswana

The University of Botswana Gender Policy and Programme Committee presented several awards to women who have distinguished themselves in several fields, include academia, law and public service. Khupe-Mogwe, the former Head of the University of Botswana's School of Nursing was conferred with the Blue Orchid Award for being Botswana's first woman professor, while other awards went to Attorney General Dr. Athalia Molokomme and Health Minister Sheila Tlou.

 

Panel on ending impunity for gender violence in Kanifing, the Gambia

The Tango Resource Centre in Kanifing was the venue for a presentation and discussion on the theme for International Women’s Day 2007 – ending impunity for gender violence against women and girls. Women also gathered there for a march to mark the occasion.

 

Arts and crafts fair in Lubango, Angola
A professional training centre, the Estrela da Huíla, organized a three-day long arts and crafts fair in celebration of International Women’s Day. Traditional and ethnic crafts made and sold by women were available at the fair. 

Mass rally against violence against women in Lusaka, Zambia

Tens of thousands women in Zambia marched to and gathered at the Freedom Statue in Lusaka, on March 8, 2007, to call for zero tolerance on violence against women in the country. Speaking at the rally, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa stated that his government was committed to empowering women in the country and, to this end, “will confront violence against women within the context of the law with the same zeal we have confronted corrupt practices in public offices and the country as a whole." he said. The president declared International Women’s Day a public holiday, starting next year. 

 

Launch of new women-friendly taxi fleet in Mumbai, India

Forsche (pronounced ‘for she’), a 10-fleet taxi service with female drivers and for female commuters only, was launched on International Women’s Day in Mumbai. The cab service was started to provide a safer alternative for women commuters who face all kinds of sexual harassment on the city’s public transportation system. 

 

COMMUNITY RADIO BROADCASTS IN ba, NADI, NAUSORI & LABASA, FIJI

women from rural communities in Ba, Nadi, Nausori and Labasa in Fiji participated in community radio broadcasts that were organized by femLINKPACIFIC on International Women’s Day. Coordinated by Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, the broadcasts are made over a ‘suitcase radio,’ a mobile radio station that enables women in rural communities to voice their opinions and experiences.

 

Publication on sexual violence against women and girls during conflict in Nairobi, Kenya

Launched to inform, shock and join the voices saying “Enough! Sexual violence against women and girls does not have to be an inevitable consequence of war,” this powerful and disturbing reference book and photo essay comprises of portraits and testimonies of women who were raped and abused during war.  The 137-page book has been released by 

The Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) and examines the scope and nature of this violence and looks at the different ways the international community is starting to address sexual violence against women and girls during and after conflict.

Read more about it and download a copy:

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=70548

 

International conference on women peacemakers in Paris, France

Five exceptional women from Burundi, Canada, Guatemala, the United States, and Switzerland, renowned for their achievements within the field of peace building, conflict resolution and reconstruction, presented their thoughts and experiences at a conference organized by UNESCO on March 8. Speakers included Sylvie Kinigi, former prime minister of the first democratically elected, ethnically mixed government of Burundi; Luz Mendez, president of the Advisory Council to the National Union of Guatemalan Women; Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold, an active member of the Swiss parliament and the Council of Europe; Mobina Jaffer, Canadian Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan; and Swanee Hunt, founding director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the founder of the Initiative for Inclusive Security, an organization that advocates for the full participation of all stakeholders, especially women, in formal and informal peace processes.

 

IWD at the movies in Seattle, USA

Two film festivals about and by women – one with a focus on Cuba, the other with a focus on South Asia – were organized in Seattle.  Organized by the Women and Cuba Collaboration, the first festival highlighted Salud! a film that explores the experiences of female healthcare professionals who are working to support the country’s healthcare system. Aaina, a film festival in its second year, drew attention to Yoni Ki Baat – the South Asia version of the Vagina Monologues.  Visiting filmmakers Shonali Bose and Sangita Shresthova presented their own films during the festival as well.

 

Mass mobilization of women in Tehran, Iran

March 8 in Iran was marked by pickets and major gatherings of women who used International Women’s Day and the days leading up to it to demonstrate in force against the oppression of Iranian government. In spite of severe threats from paramilitary and secret police, several thousand people congregated around Tehran university in the afternoon of March 8 and raised slogans and banners against gender discrimination, dictatorship and the police state. At Allameh University more than 700 people gathered to oppose a new dress code for female students with chanting, slogans and protest songs, while at Sharif University protesters sang songs and held up banners proclaiming “Freedom, Equality,” “Women’s freedom is the freedom of society” and “women are the main victims of war, poverty and violence” and “No to gender apartheid.” At Esfahan women took off their veils for a few moments to demonstrate their hatred for Islamic rules and read out a resolution that was delivered at demonstrations across the country.

 

Conference on women, peace and prosperity in Tunis, Tunisia

Convened by the National Union of Tunisian Women and the South African Women in Dialogue, this conference on March 8 aimed to facilitate discussion about the necessity for international women’s human rights legislation, women’s contribution to economic development, the digital divide and women’s role in the knowledge society, and women’s participation in political life.  Recommendations emerging from this conference will feed into a second conference in South Africa later this year.

 

Media organization celebrates IWD in Wellawatte, Sri Lanka

Oodaru, a women’s media organization in Sri Lanka, organized an event where journalists (both male and female) addressed the entry of women into the profession and discussed changes in the media and the conditions that are required to create a better media culture for the future. Lamps were lit and poets, young and old, read from their works.

  

GLOBAL & INTERNATIONAL INITIATIVES

9 UN AGENCIES LAUNCH JOINT EFFORT TO COMBAT SEXUAL VIOLENCE DURING CONFLICT ON MARCH 8, 2007
‘Stop Rape Now: UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict,’ is a new initiative that unites 10 UN agencies against gender-based violence, including sexual violence, in conflict and to support survivors. Announced at a panel about the inter-agency initiative at the UN Headquarters in Geneva on March 8, 2007, it will work with national governments and NGO partners to generate public awareness on the growing use of sexual violence as a weapon of warfare, and how to prevent it; work towards ending impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict; improve and scale up services for survivors; and address the longer term impacts of sexual violence on communities and national development.  The initiative includes United Nations Children’s Fund, Department of Peace Keeping Operations, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Development Program, United Nations Population Fund, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Fund for Women, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization.
To find out more, visit: http://www.stoprapenow.org/

 

GLOBAL CALL FOR ACTION AGAINST POVERTY KICKS OFF 2007 CAMPAIGN ON IWD
The Global Call for Action Against Poverty (GCAP) launched their first campaign of the year on International Women’s Day with the rousing call of “Gender Equality to End Poverty.” This call recognizes the inextricable link between poverty and gender inequality and maintains that gender equality is central to meeting the various challenges that humanity faces.  Spearheaded by GCAP’s Feminist Task Force, this phase of the campaign is global in scope and includes national and regional demands for national and local governments to recognise that gender equality is critical for meaningful social development and give it priority on their agendas. GCAP, a massive global alliance with national platforms made up of trade unions, community groups, faith groups and campaigners in more than 100 countries, was started in 2005 to pressure world’s leaders to meet their promises of ending poverty and inequality.
To find out more, visit:
http://www.whiteband.org/GcapSpecials/iwdmarch08/gcapnews.2007-03-07.8609633260/en

 

EUROPEAN UNION HOLDS ART COMPETITION FOR CHILDREN IN GLOBAL SOUTH

In honour of International Women’s Day, the European Commission called on children, particularly in the age group of 8-10, in the Global South to express their vision of equality between women and men. A panel of judges selected a winner from each region (Africa Caribbean Pacific, Latin America, Asia and the European Neighbourhood-Mediterranean region) and a €1,000 prize was awarded to each child and his/her school.

 

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