On the occasion of the International Women’s Day 2010, Mental Health Europe has published a report on violence against women in the workplace. The report aims to contribute to reducing violence against women at work in all its forms. Zero tolerance of this violence is crucial to change attitudes and behaviours.
MHE’s European Project “Violence against Women in the workplace… Let’s talk about it ! The mental health impacts of violence and harassment against women at work” aims at contributing to the prevention of violence against women at work in all its forms also encouraging attitudes and behaviours of zero tolerance. The Project is funded in the frame of the Daphne III Programme, Directorate General of Justice, Freedom and Security. http://www.epha.org/IMG/pdf/MHE_poster-violence-women-en.pdf
In recent years, national working conditions surveys have shown that an increasing incidence of work-related health problems develop as a result of psychological rather than physical causes.
Violence and harassment at work has immediate effects on the concerned women, including a lack of motivation, loss of confidence and reduced self-esteem, depression and anger, anxiety and irritability.
A poster, translated in 8 languages (English, German, Greek, Spanish, Slovenian, Romanian, Lithuanian and Latvian) has been published in order to illustrate graphically the importance of preventing violence and harassment against women at work as well as mental health problems that result from it.
A handbook/booklet translated in the same 8 languages is being prepared with the aim of providing guidance on recognising and tackling psychosocial risks in the workplace.
You can find more information about the Project and download the posters on the MHE website at http://www.mhe-sme.org/en/our-projects/current-projects/daphne-phase-III.html
On International Women’s Day, EPHA member the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) welcomes the political momentum to advance gender equality and women’s sexual and reproductive rights.
IPPF EN congratulates the Spanish Presidency of the European Union for firmly putting women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights at the top of the national and EU agenda. On 24 February, the Spanish Senate approved a new progressive law which finally decriminalizes abortion and reflects a comprehensive national strategy on sexual and reproductive health and rights. In a recent speech to celebrate Women’s Day, Ms. Bibiana Aido, Spanish Minister of Equality emphasized that “gender equality cannot be achieved without guaranteeing women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.” By putting gender equality and the fight against gender-based violence at the top of the political agenda, the EU Presidency of Spain has shown what it means to act to guarantee women’s rights in practice.
We also celebrate the European Parliament’s Resolution on gender equality in the EU which clearly states that women must have control over their sexual and reproductive rights. The European Parliament recognizes that the full physical and sexual autonomy of women is a precondition for any successful sexual and reproductive health rights policy.
This means, for example that girls and boys should be equally allowed to enjoy sex and love, without fear of violence, forced marriage or any form of body mutilation. Contraception should not only be perceived as a ‘girl’s issue’ ; boys should feel equally responsible. This also means that women who choose to have children should not be discriminated in their future career.
IPPF EN calls on the EU to address all issues of gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights as human rights and to push for greater access to sexuality education as a means to combat all forms of gender stereotypes.
We encourage the new European Commission to strengthen its commitment towards a new EU strategy for gender equality and to include sexual and reproductive health and rights. IPPF’s “Sexual Rights : an IPPF Declaration” http://www.ippf.org/NR/rdonlyres/9E4D697C-1C7D-4EF6-AA2A-6D4D0A13A108/0/SexualRightsIPPFdeclaration.pdf could offer a useful framework.
For further information go to the International Planned Parenthood Federation website http://www.ippf.org/en
International Women’s Day acts as a focus point showing the importance of bringing together women of all political persuasions, irrespective their social situation to ensure that every woman can fully enjoy all human rights and basic freedoms.
The OSHA Europe website http://osha.europa.eu/en/teaser/news_article.2008-03-07.gender published an article about gender issues concerning safety and health at work. Women are still not treated the same way at work as men even though women make up 44% of the employed population in the EU. OSHA concludes therefore that a gender sensitive approach is needed to reach equal conditions for men and women regarding health and safety at work.
In order to mark the International Women’s Day EMCDDA http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/thematic-papers/womens-voices published a report about women facing drug-related problems in Europe. The report contains experiences and perceptions of women using drugs. Most drug services today are designed with male drug users in mind. However, it is widely recognised that drug policy and effectiveness are enhanced when gender differences are acknowledged. An EMCCDA expert group therefore agreed that treatment guidelines have to take into account gender differences and so-called ’service-user views’ in order to plan appropriate treatment for women and men.
Anna Zaborska http://www.theparliament.com/latestnews/news-article/newsarticle/eu-must-do-more-to-promote-gender-equality/, the Chair of Parliament’s Committee on Women Rights and Gender Equality, stressed that the EU must do more to promote gender equality as it is still the case that women are sometimes linked with a degrading image. She claimed that it is crucial to understand that the future of new Europe is linked to the situation of women. The EU has to foster gender equality so that all women can enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men do.
- The article ‘Women’s Day’ by Alexandra Kollontai was published in the newspaper Pravda one week before the first-ever celebration in Russia of the Day of International Solidarity among the Female Proletariat on 23 February (8 March), 1913. In St Petersburg this day was marked by a call for a campaign against women workers’ lack of economic and political rights, for the unity of the working class, and for the awakening of self-consciousness among women workers.
What is ‘Women’s Day’? Is it really necessary? Is it not a concession to the women of the bourgeois class, to the feminists and suffragettes? Is it not harmful to the unity of the workers’ movement?
Such questions can still be heard in Russia, though they are no longer heard abroad. Life itself has already supplied a clear and eloquent answer.
‘Women’s Day’ is a link in the long, solid chain of the women’s proletarian movement. The organised army of working women grows with every year. Twenty years ago the trade unions contained only small groups of working women scattered here and there among the ranks of the workers party… Now English trade unions have over 292 thousand women members; in Germany around 200 thousand are in the trade union movement and 150 thousand in the workers party, and in Austria there are 47 thousand in the trade unions and almost 20 thousand in the party. Everywhere – in Italy, Hungary, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland – the women of the working class are organising themselves. The women’s socialist army has almost a million members. A powerful force! A force that the powers of this world must reckon with when it is a question of the cost of living, maternity insurance, child labour and legislation to protect female labour.
There was a time when working men thought that they alone must bear on their shoulders the brunt of the struggle against capital, that they alone must deal with the ‘old world’ without the help of their womenfolk. However, as working-class women entered the ranks of those who sell their labour, forced onto the labour market by need, by the fact that husband or father is unemployed, working men became aware that to leave women behind in the ranks of the ‘non-class-conscious’ was to damage their cause and hold it back. The greater the number of conscious fighters, the greater the chances of success. What level of consciousness is possessed by a woman who sits by the stove, who has no rights in society, the state or the family? She has no ‘ideas’ of her own! Everything is done as ordered by the father or husband…
The backwardness and lack of rights suffered by women, their subjection and indifference, are of no benefit to the working class, and indeed are directly harmful to it. But how is the woman worker to be drawn into the movement, how is she to be awoken?
Social-Democracy abroad did not find the correct solution immediately. Workers’ organisations were open to women workers, but only a few entered. Why? Because the working class at first did not realise that the woman worker is the most legally and socially deprived member of that class, that she has been browbeaten, intimidated, persecuted down the centuries, and that in order to stimulate her mind and heart, a special approach is needed, words understandable to her as a woman. The workers did not immediately appreciate that in this world of lack of rights and exploitation, the woman is oppressed not only as a seller of her labour, but also as a mother, as a woman… However. when the workers’ socialist party understood this, it boldly took up the defence of women on both counts as a hired worker and as a woman, a mother.
Socialists in every country began to demand special protection for female labour, insurance for mother and child, political rights for women and the defence of womens interests.
The more clearly the workers party perceived this second objective vis-a-vis women workers, the more willingly women joined the party, the more they appreciated that the party is their true champion, that the working class is struggling also for their urgent and exclusively female needs. Working women themselves, organised and conscious, have done a great deal to elucidate this objective. Now the main burden of the work to attract more working women into the socialist movement lies with the women. The parties in every country have their own special women’s committees, secretariats and bureaus. These women’s committees conduct work among the still largely non-politically conscious female population, arouse the consciousness of working women and organise them. They also examine those questions and demands that affect women most closely: protection and provision for expectant and nursing mothers, the legislative regulation of female labour, the campaign against prostitution and infant mortality, the demand for political rights for women, the improvement of housing, the campaign against the rising cost of living, etc.
Thus, as members of the party, women workers are fighting for the common class cause, while at the same time outlining and putting forward those needs and demands that most nearly affect themselves as women, housewives and mothers. The party supports these demands and fights for them… The requirements of working women are part and parcel of the common workers’ cause!
On ‘Women’s Day’ the organised demonstrate against their lack of rights.
But, some will say, why this singling out of women workers? Why special ‘Women’s Days’, special leaflets for working women, meetings and conferences of working-class women? Is this not, in the final analysis, a concession to the feminists and bourgeois suffragettes?
Only those who do not understand the radical difference between the movement of socialist women and bourgeois suffragettes can think this way.
What is the aim of the feminists? Their aim is to achieve the same advantages, the same power, the same rights within capitalist society as those possessed now by their husbands, fathers and brothers. What is the aim of the women workers? Their aim is to abolish all privileges deriving from birth or wealth. For the woman worker it is a matter of indifference who is the ‘master’ a man or a woman. Together with the whole of her class, she can ease her position as a worker.
Feminists demand equal rights always and everywhere. Women workers reply: we demand rights for every citizen, man and woman, but we are not prepared to forget that we are not only workers and citizens, but also mothers! And as mothers, as women who give birth to the future, we demand special concern for ourselves and our children, special protection from the state and society.
The feminists are striving to acquire political rights. However, here too our paths separate.
For bourgeois women, political rights are simply a means allowing them to make their way more conveniently and more securely in a world founded on the exploitation of the working people. For women workers, political rights are a step along the rocky and difficult path that leads to the desired kingdom of labour.
The paths pursued by women workers and bourgeois suffragettes have long since separated. There is too great a difference between the objectives that life has put before them. There is too great a contradiction between the interests of the woman worker and the lady proprietress, between the servant and her mistress… There are not and cannot be any points of contact, conciliation or convergence between them. Therefore working men should not fear separate Women’s Days, nor special conferences of women workers, nor their special press.
Every special, distinct form of work among the women of the working class is simply a means of arousing the consciousness of the woman worker and drawing her into the ranks of those fighting for a better future… Women’s Days and the slow, meticulous work undertaken to arouse the self-consciousness of the woman worker are serving the cause not of the division but of the unification of the working class.
Let a joyous sense of serving the common class cause and of fighting simultaneously for their own female emancipation inspire women workers to join in the celebration of Women’s Day.
- Source: Alexandra Kollontai: Selected Articles and Speeches, Progress Publishers, 1984;
First Published: Pravda, No. 40(244), 17 February, 1913, St Petersburg;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan for marxists.org, 2000;
Proofed: and corrected by Chris Clayton 2006.
International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.
In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on 8 March. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions. In adopting its resolution, the General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and an increase of support for women’s full and equal participation.
International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe.
1909: The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.
1910: The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women’s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance.
1911: As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.
1913-1914: International Women’s Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. As part of the peace movement, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists.
1917: Against the backdrop of the war, women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for ‘Bread and Peace’ on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.
Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women’s movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. Increasingly, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.
The United Nations and Gender Equality
The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men. Since then, the UN has helped create a historic legacy of internationally-agreed strategies, standards, programmes and goals to advance the status of women worldwide.
Over the years, the UN and its technical agencies have promoted the participation of women as equal partners with men in achieving sustainable development, peace, security, and full respect for human rights. The empowerment of women continues to be a central feature of the UN’s efforts to address social, economic and political challenges across the globe.
In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women’s Day. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions. For the United Nations, International Women’s Day has been observed on 8 March since 1975. The Day is traditionally marked with a message from the Secretary-General.
The theme for 2010 is:
- Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all
Why dedicate a day exclusively to the celebration of the world’s women?
In adopting its resolution on the observance of Women’s Day, the General Assembly cited two reasons: to recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security. For the women of the world, the Day’s symbolism has a wider meaning: It is an occasion to review how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilize for meaningful change.
This year, Gender Across Borders [GAB] is calling all bloggers to participate in the first year of Blog for International’s Women’s Day [IWD].
As set by the United Nations, this year’s theme is “Equal rights, equal opportunity: Progress for all.”
While we here at GAB believe that equal rights for women should be celebrated every day, this particular event is a day for people to come together and blog about the progress of rights and opportunity for women worldwide.
Blog for IWD will take place on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2010. Please take a moment to sign up using the form here and you can also download a Blog for IWD graphic to let readers know you’re participating. We ask bloggers to think about any of the following questions in regards to the U.N.’s theme for IWD:
- What does “equal rights for all” mean to you?
- Would you describe a particular organization, person, or moment in history that helped to mobilize a meaningful change in equal rights forall?
Once you sign up, a link to your blog’s URL will appear on the Blog for IWD blog directory page. Also remember to tag your posts as “Blog for IWD” or “Blog for International Women’s Day” so that we can identify your posts!
At GAB we will live-blog throughout the day, highlighting some of your posts and what you have to say about “equal rights for all.”
For those who forget, we will also send out a reminder email about Blog for International Women’s Day a few days before March 8, 2010 when you check the box on the sign up form. By participating in this event, you are taking action in equal rights for all. So, what are you waiting for?
Thanks in advance for signing up. Please feel free to tell your blogger friends about Blog for International Women’s Day! The official site for Blog for IWD is http://genderacrossborders.com/blogforiwd.
If you have any questions about Blog for IWD, contact myself or our general email, email@example.com.
Emily and the rest of the GAB editorial board
Gender Across Borders, a global feminist blog
Support the Manifesto of Liberation of Women in Iran
The very existence of the Islamic regime of Iran is incompatible with freedom of women. The Islamic Republic of Iran is a misogynist state, architect of gender apartheid and perpetrator of three decades of the most odious forms of abuse, discrimination and violence against women in Iran. A society cannot be free if women are not free. Without the overthrow of the misogynist Islamic regime, women in Iran will not achieve their rights. The Islamic Republic must go! This is the message of Neda Agha Soltan, the symbol of the ongoing revolution in Iran; it is the decree of the brave women who at the front lines of people’s protest have been challenging the entire Islamic state for the past seven months.
Thirty years ago on March 8th, 1979 in Iran, we freedom-loving women and men stood up to the reactionaries who had just come to power, with shouts of No to compulsory veil! Today, with the painful and bloody experience of three decades of gender apartheid, gender slavery and nonstop suppression of women behind us, we state even more clearly and forcefully, along with the young and progressive generation of today, that the Islamic Republic, as a misogynist state, as a regime of gender apartheid must be overthrown. We say that the leaders of the Islamic Republic must be arrested and put on trial for systematic crimes against millions of women, for crimes against humanity. This is the decree of the revolution in Iran. With the overthrow of the Islamic Republic we will lend a helping hand to millions of women in Islam-stricken countries who are prisoners of terrorist Islamic states and gangs and honour-worshiping, male-chauvinistic Islamic traditions.
Today, support for the ongoing revolution in Iran can and should become a vast international movement. March 8th is International Women’s Day, which this year bears the mark of solidarity with women and people in Iran in the struggle to topple the Islamic regime. We call on women’s rights activists and organisations to express their solidarity with the women’s movement in Iran, while remembering Neda Agha Soltan as the symbol of the revolutionary movement against the Islamic Republic. March 8th this year is the day of solidarity with the movement of the people of Iran for freedom!
We issue the following Manifesto of the Liberation of Women in Iran, and call on all women’s rights’ activists and secular and progressive forces to support this Manifesto and join up in solidarity with the people of Iran in the struggle to overthrow the Islamic regime of gender apartheid:
- 1- Prosecution of the leaders and officials of the Islamic Republic for crimes against humanity, including for thirty years of the vilest abuse, discrimination and violence against women in Iran
2- Abolition of all misogynist Islamic laws and all laws that discriminate against women; complete equality of women and men in all economic, political, cultural, social and family spheres
3- Complete separation of religion from the state, the educational system and all laws
4- Abolition of segregation of the sexes and gender apartheid
5- Prohibition of sighe (Islamic ‘rent-a-wife’) and polygamy; unconditional right of separation (divorce) for women and men; abolition of all laws which make women’s civil rights (such as the right to travel, social intercourse, participation in social activities, etc.) conditional on obtaining the permission of the husband, father or other male members of the family; complete equality of women’s and men’s rights and duties in the custody and care of children following separation
6- Abolition of compulsory veil (hejab) for women; prohibition of hejab for children; full freedom of dress
7- Abolition of all the barbaric laws of stoning, execution, retribution (qesas) and other Islamic punishments
8- Unconditional freedom of expression, protest, strike, assembly, organisation and forming parties
9- Immediate release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience
10- Freedom of religion and atheism and freedom to criticise religion.
To sign up to the manifesto, please go to: http://equal-rights-now.com/IntWD/IntWD649.php?nr=63719093&lang=en
To see Maryam Namazie’s call to show solidarity with the people of Iran, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynMU92o7TlE
To see how you can support the people of Iran, click here: http://iransolidarity.org.uk/act_now.html
For more information on the manifesto or March 8 events, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; call 0049-1775692413 or 0044-7719166731 or visit http://equalrightsnow-iran.com/ or http://iransolidarity.org.uk/.
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.
* Feminist Peace Network Calls For A Boycott Of InternationalWomensDay.com Site
* Thomson Reuters Follows Up And FPN Responds
* Thomson Reuters Still Doesn’t Get It–The InternationalWomensDay.com Boycott Continues
* Thomson Reuters Continued Co-Option Of International Women’s Day