Recommit to women’s liberation: On International Women’s Day we launch a manifesto for 21st-century feminism
Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of International Women’s Day. First agreed at a socialist women’s conference in Copenhagen in 1910, its aim was to campaign for the rights of working women. Today, the lives of women have changed beyond recognition compared with those of their grandmothers and great grandmothers. But the changes in work and personal life have been distorted by the needs of the market and have fallen far short of women’s liberation.
The experience of work has been challenging and invigorating for a few, but for most women in the shops, offices, call centres and factories of 21st-century Britain it has been more likely to represent long hours, constant pressure, and growing attempts to squeeze more productivity and profit out of them. The big increase in the numbers of women working (more than 12 million today) has come from working mothers. But there has been no similar change in how the family and childcare have been organised.
So while mothers work outside the home, often full-time, they are also often expected to shoulder the needs of shopping, feeding and caring for their children. This is on top of sometimes long journeys to work, and of the demands of shift work for many. Whereas the old sexist dichotomy of the 50s was that women could either have looks or brains, now we are expected to have both, plus cooking skills at least to the level of Come Dine With Me, and an all-seeing eye to ensure that children behave at all times.
Women are expected to juggle all aspects of their lives and are blamed as individuals for any failing in their work or family life. The only people who can begin to succeed in doing this are those who can afford to pay others (usually women) to carry out some or all of these tasks. So an army of working-class women cook, clean, care for children, do ironing and washing, work in supermarkets, wait in restaurants, perform personal services, all to ensure the easier life of those women who “have it all”. Often in the process they neglect their own families to do so.
The way in which women’s working lives are portrayed reflects this. There is much talk of glass ceilings, but little about those women who are falling into the basement, struggling to work and maintain families on poverty wages. The life experiences of women (and men) are radically different, with a small minority sharing in the profits made by working-class men and women.
Alongside work has come increased sexualisation of society – now greeted with horror by respectable middle-class opinion, but much encouraged by advertising, the media and the profit motive itself, where porn and lap dancing are now big business. The other side of this sexualisation is the continuing high levels of rape, domestic violence and sexual abuse. We are still a very long way from women controlling their own lives and sexuality.
This International Women’s Day we should recommit to a women’s liberation which is connected to a wider movement for human emancipation and for working people to control the wealth they produce. That’s why women and men have to fight for liberation. We won’t win without a fight, because there are many vested interests who want to stop us. But more and more people are beginning to connect campaigning over climate change, war and inequality with fighting for women’s liberation. That’s why we are launching a manifesto for 21st-century feminism to begin to organise for real equality.
Lindsey German and Nina Power Monday 8 March 2010 12.00 GMT
You can read and add comments at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/08/international-womens-day-manifesto#start-of-comments
See report of meeting held on 6th March ‘Feminism Today’ with Nina Power and Lindsey German at http://liammacuaid.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/feminism-today-with-nina-power-and-lindsey-german/
A pledge of support for women: The Conservatives aim to tackle violence and to raise women’s aspirations – at home and abroad
International Women’s Day is being celebrated for the 99th time this year, having first been held in 1911, when women in the UK did not have the vote and equality was a distant glimmer on the horizon. Since then, we have passed many milestones, but women still face many challenges both at home and abroad. From the gender pay gap of over 16%, to the shocking numbers of women being raped, we as a society still have a long way to go before women feel safe and have choice over their own lives.
Of the many challenges that will face an incoming government after the next election, the persistence of various forms of violence against women will be among the most serious. Three million women experience violence each year in the UK, through domestic violence, rape, trafficking, “honour”-based violence and other forms.
One of the most extreme forms of violence against women – that of female genital mutilation (FGM) or “cutting” – shows the stark reality too many women face. This practice is illegal in the UK, yet latest research gives a conservative estimate that 77,000 women and young girls in the UK have been mutilated, and around 24,000 young girls are at risk.
Furthermore, the number of women being forced into marriage is on the increase. The government’s Forced Marriage Unit received over 5,000 calls for help in 2008 from women who feared for their freedom, and nearly half of the cases they handled involved repatriation to the UK. In response to these figures, David Cameron and I launched our policy paper Ending Violence Against Women in 2008, which outlines the measures that a Conservative government would introduce and affirms our commitment to ensuring a cross-government approach to tackling violence which placed prevention at the heart of our strategy.
In November, the government produced its own long-awaited paper on tackling all forms of violence against women. There has been an urgent need for ministers to take a more coordinated approach to this issue, and I regret that this strategy has been so slow in coming. I was disappointed, too, that they failed to take up some of the specific measures we proposed.
A Conservative government will increase the number of health visitors, who give valued support to women who have just given birth – the time at which domestic violence can often begin. We will explore New York City’s example of proactive policing against domestic violence, which has seen domestic murder rates fall significantly. And we will end the early release of prisoners, which has seen domestic violence offenders released without any risk assessment and allowed to return to their partner’s home.
I am pleased that the government had already accepted our call to safeguard benefit payments for women with children when they are first forced to seek safety in a refuge centre – payments that could have been cut under their original plans.
As modern Conservatives, we want to support women in every role they play. Help for vulnerable women, support for working women and choice for families are key to our domestic policies, and above all, we want to raise the aspirations of every woman – from here at home in Britain to women abroad in the developing world.
It is still the case that women bear the overwhelming burden of extreme poverty and deprivation in the developing world. Over 70% of the world’s 1.3 billion poorest people are women, and this appalling situation is getting worse as we speak. Currently, girls constitute over two-thirds of the 130 million children who have no access to basic education.
David Cameron has therefore reaffirmed our commitment to meet the internationally agreed goal of 0.7% of gross national income spent on aid by 2013. He has set out some bold and radical ideas that will help women in their fight against poverty. Using women as recipients of aid would be an important step in improving development and ensuring equality, and a commitment to primary education for all would help lower birth rates and promote female choice over marriage. More than anything else, ensuring equal participation of women across all spheres of society is crucial to economic growth and development.
These are just some of the policies that we have announced as part of our five-point plan for “Women in the World Today”. With these proposals, we want to follow a joined-up, common-sense approach to women’s issues and make our modern world a fairer place for everybody.
Theresa May Monday 8 March 2010 18.00 GMT
You can read and add comments to this article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/08/conervative-policy-women#start-of-comments
Government Calls On Firms To Report Action Taken
Companies may be required to report on their progress to get more women into the boardroom, under proposals announced today. It comes as new research shows that sixty per cent of people think there are not enough women directors in big businesses.
The survey which has been commissioned by the Government Equalities Office for International Women’s Day shows that half believe there will be equal numbers of men and women directors within the next 20 years. However, the reality is that it will take 60 years for women to gain equal representation on the boards of the top 100 companies at the current rate of progress.
The Government has today asked the Financial Reporting Council to consider including a new principle in its code of conduct (UK Corporate Governance Code) to require firms to report on what they’re doing to increase the number of women in senior management positions. This builds on the Equality Bill which will allow firms to choose to use positive action to appoint more women to senior roles.
Other key findings from the survey include:
* A clear majority (80%) think a balanced senior management team will be better at understanding their customers.
* Nearly two thirds (61%) believe businesses are losing out on talent by having fewer women in senior roles.
* More than three quarters (78%) disagree that, because men have more experience in senior management than women, men are better at running companies.
* Nearly three quarters (72%) think it is important that women and men should have an equal say in the business decisions over how the British economy is run.
* More than half (55%) think both men and women should share decisions in the finance sector which affect the economy. Only 7% think decisions should be left just to men.
* 71% believe having more women on senior management teams will lead to more family friendly working practices.
* More than half (59%) think that having senior management teams of all one sex will be more likely to think in the same way (‘groupthink’) and so make poor decisions.
* Just under half (43%) think there should be an equal balance of both men and women in investment banking.
Yesterday morning the Prime Minister hosted a business breakfast at Downing Street with leading women in business, to mark International Women’s Day and to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing women’s leadership in business and enterprise.
Currently, only one in ten FTSE board directors are women, and 25 firms have no women on them at all.
Women continue to be under-represented at board level despite having the right education and experience they need to succeed, and are deterred from applying due to corporate boards being dominated by “old boys’ networks”. 
Steps the Government is taking to support women in business include:
* The Equality Bill will allow employers to use positive action to appoint more women to senior roles, if they want to, provided the candidates are equally suitable.
* The Government has asked the Financial Reporting Council to consider including a new principle in its code of conduct (UK Corporate Governance Code) to require firms to report on what they’re doing to get more women into their boardrooms. This would help diversify the talent pool available to business, which in turn can drive success and competitiveness, benefiting the wider UK economy as a whole.
* The Equality and Human Rights Commission is producing further recommendations shortly on how to tackle sex discrimination in the finance sector, following an inquiry last year that found only one tenth (11%) of senior managers were women.
* Last month, the Government launched a new Women’s Employment Strategy to work towards a fair and family friendly labour market, and signposting businesses to programmes, networks and services aimed at improving senior representation.
* In 2008 the Government and Opportunity Now identified 100 exemplar employers who have taken action to increase the number of women at senior levels.
* The Civil Service is also committed to increasing the representation of women in top jobs. There are currently a 1,500 women in the Senior Civil Service representing 35%, which is a doubling in the last ten years, and 28% of those are in Top Management Posts (Director and above), with seven female Permanent Secretaries. The Civil Service has set targets to achieve 39% for women in the SCS and 35% in top management by 2013 with a stretch to achieve by 2011.
* New cross-Government targets to increase diversity of talent on public boards mean that by March 2011, women are set to form 50% of new OCPA regulated public appointments.
* The Government Equalities Office is responsible for the Government’s overall strategy, legislation, and priorities on equality issues. The Office also has direct responsibility for policy on gender equality, sexual orientation, and for integrating work on race. The Prime Minister announced the establishment of the Government Equalities Office (GEO) in July 2007 and it became a Department in its own right in October 2007. It works to Ministers Harriet Harman, Maria Eagle, Vera Baird, and Michael Foster.
* The survey was commissioned by the Government Equalities Office and conducted by Ipsos MORI.
* Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,071 adults in Great Britain aged 16+. Interviews were conducted by telephone between 20-24 February 2010. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. The full research report will be published on the GEO website on 11 March 2010: http://www.equalities.gov.uk
* International Women’s Day (8 March 2010) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. It is an opportunity for organisations, individuals and Government to celebrate the progress made in the past 99 years since the first International Women’s Day but also to look forward to the other important action that needs to take place to ensure the lives of women both in Britain and all around the world are improved.
* The Equality Bill will allow employers to choose to take positive action to appoint a person from an under-represented group, provided candidates are as qualified to do the job as each other, and so balance things out if they want to.
* The Financial Reporting Council is currently consulting on their code of conduct (UK Corporate Governance Code). As part of this consultation the Government has asked the FRC to consider including a new principle in its code of conduct to require firms to report on what they’re doing to increase the number of women directors in senior management positions.
-  According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission
 Cranfield School of Management Female FTSE 100 Index 2009
 Cranfield School of Management. ‘Increasing diversity on public and private sector boards: Part 1 – How diverse are boards and why?’ commissioned by the Government Equalities Office, November 2009.
Full press release at http://nds.coi.gov.uk/content/detail.aspx?NewsAreaId=2&ReleaseID=411929&SubjectId=2
Sky News announced that it will be marking International Women’s Day on Monday 8th March with a day of female-led broadcasting. From sunrise to midnight, the news channel will be presented and produced exclusively by women in support of the globally renowned day, which honours the economic, political and social achievements of women with hundreds of events around the world.
The day will feature Sky News’ key female presentation talent with all strands of programming, including bulletins, business, sport, and weather being presented by women. Their producers will be women, as will the duty editors of Sky News Radio and Sky News Online.
Anna Botting, Gillian Joseph, Kay Burley, and Anna Jones will head up the cast of news presenters on the rolling news channel. For Sky News’ flagship business programme, Dharshini David will take over Jeff Randall’s seat in the Gherkin; and Jacquie Beltrao, Sarah Jane Mee, and Karthi Gnanasegaram will front the sports bulletins.
John Ryley, Head of Sky News said of the initiative: “Sky News is constantly pushing the boundaries and we are delighted to be marking this important day in this way with our talented women journalists. Editorially, it will be interesting to see what we cover, but we will ask the question we always do – what is of most relevance to our viewers? “
Online, Kirsty Donald will be in the pivotal position as News Editor, backed up by Kate Sullivan as her Chief Sub Editor.
On Sky News Radio Kat Wright will oversee the highest rating bulletin of the week at 08.00am, read by Rachel Hardiman. Sky News Radio also provides the news bulletins for Magic 105.4FM and Verity Geere will be reading the news on Neil Fox’s Breakfast Show, Liz Lane will be editing the afternoon and evening news, with Kelly Withers reading the Magic news bulletins. Ursula Hansford will be reading the Sky News Radio bulletin which is syndicated to commercial radio stations nationwide.
Women Building Bridges – is an International Women’s Day 2010 Art Exhibition and Programme opening in The Women’s Centre on Monday 8th March.
International Women’s Day 2010 is being marked by an Art Exhibition and Workshop Programme ‘Women Building Bridges’ which – celebrates and promotes community bridge building, challenges stereotypes and prejudices and demonstrates a willing to engage with ‘difference’ and diversity, from the perspectives of women across the city (and beyond).
The programme is itself a communicative platform from which social, economic and political realities may be explored. The theme ‘Women Building Bridges’ was chosen in response to the building of a new footbridge (Peace Bridge) which will connect the West and East Banks of the city. The Exhibition showcases various creative art pieces by individuals, artists, and groups of women from the Derry City Council area and beyond.
Mon 8th March The Women’s Centre 3:00pm
Guest Speakers including: Ms Aideen McGinley OBE, Chief Executive of Ilex. The Women’s Centre. T: 028 7126 7672
Mon 8th March Eden Place Arts 7:30pm
Contact: Judi Logue. T:028 7126 9418
Mon 8th March The Nerve Centre 7pm
Screening of ‘Trade’
‘TRADE is a thrilling story of courage and a devastating expose of one of the world’s most heinous crimes’. Screening to coincide with the workshop ‘Women and the Sex Industry’.
Mon 8th March Sandino’s 8pm to late
Femme Fatale Open Mic Nite with Tina McLaughlin.
Showcasing Derry and Donegal’s Finest Female Singers and Performers. £2 entrance on door. Door charge donated to F oyle Women’s Aid. Contact: Tina McLaughlin. M: 07966691699
Tues 9th March The Women’s Centre 10.30am – 12pm
Below the Radar: Discussion Forum
A workshop exploring the invisibility issues of Young Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Women in relation to Service Provision.
Facilitated by Duane McArdle. Contact: Paddy McNicholl (IPOD Young Women’s Project). T: 028 7126 7672
Tues 9th March Waterside Women’s Centre 11am – 2pm
Fusion of Culture
International Food Cuisine. Waterside Women’s Centre. Booking only. T: 028 7134 1579
Tues 9th March Verbal Arts Centre 12.30pm
Contact: Claire McDermott T: 028 7126 6946
Log on to http://www.verbal.fm and click on listen to hear radio packages about some of this year’s events.
Tues 9th March Verbal Arts Centre 1.30pm
Verbal Arts Centre, Eden Place, Women’s Centre and Tower Museum.
Wed 10th March The Junction 10am – 12pm
Women and the Sex Industry: Discussion Forum
A workshop opportunity to focus in on a critical local and global social injustice issue. Facilitated by Children in Crossfire/IPOD group. Contact: Caroline Murphy. T: 028 7126 9898
Wed 10th March Tower Museum 12.30pm
Derry City Council Heritage and Museum Exhibition Launch
Contact: Margaret Edwards/Bernadette Walsh. T:02871 372411
Wed 10th March VOID 2pm – 3.30pm
Exhibiting Women’s and Community Art: Discussion Forum
Women artists, community artists, Women’s and Community Art Groups are invited to explore influences within work, issues around exhibiting work in public, the inter-connections between individual art pieces and collective art, and the profile of Women’s Art in public space. Contact: Ruth Moore or VOID T: 0287126 7672 or 028 7130 8080
Thurs 11th March VOID 7pm
‘28 Days – Women’s reflections in time and space’.
On February 1st 2010, a group of women artists and writers visited the space of the former barracks at Ebrington. The exhibition will show the individual artistic responses they developed over the ensuing 28 days.
Contact: Clionagh Boyle or Maoliosa Boyle. Void Gallery. T:028 7130 8080
Fri 12th March Wateside Theatre 11.30am
Community Bridge Building: Discussion Forum
Within the context of ‘regeneration’ and the building of the new ‘Peace Bridge’ linking East and West banks of the city, the questions are posed: Is physical regeneration and re imaging the easy part? How can space be utilized to support human interaction and/or sustainable relationships? What kind of platform should ‘community bridge building’ have in the city?
Contact: Ruth Moore. The Women’s Centre. T: 028 7126 7672
Fri 12th March The Guildhall 1.30pm – 2.30pm
Maiden’s Tour the City: A Herstory of the Walled City (1hr)
Tour Guide: Anne Crilly, (Filmmaker and UU Lecturer) 15 places. Contact: Ruth Moore. The Women’s Centre.
T: 028 7126 7672
Sat 13th March The Guildhall 1 – 2pm
A Herstory of the Walled City (1hr)
Tour Guide: Anne Crilly, (Filmmaker and UU Lecturer) 15 places. Contact: Ruth Moore. The Women’s Centre
T: 028 7126 7672
Sat 13th March Central Library 2pm
Come and join in with other women in building bridges out of human sculpture throughout the city!
Contact: Caroline Murphy. T: 07541908118
Tues 16th March (Foyle Street ) 11.30am -1.30pm
(Tower Museum, Women’s Centre, Eden Place and Verbal Arts Centre).
An illustrated version of the programme can be downloaded from http://www.thewomenscentre.co.uk/WOMEN%20BUILDING_BRIDGES_PROGRAMME_FLYER.pdf
This year’s programme has grown out of a history of International Women’s Day celebrations in the city, the annual Exhibition Event of Eden Place, and is influenced by the multiple venue and Coalition approach which emerged as part of the 2008 Art of Survival and 2009 Women’s Real Lives, curated by Roberta Bacic. The momentum and energy for the 2010 programme is the result of coalition working of a number of individuals and organisations, which have come together to organise the activities for Women Building Bridges 2010. These include: Eden Place Arts Centre, The Women’s Centre (Derry), Waterside Women’s Centre, Derry City Council Heritage and Museums Services, Children In Crossfire, Verbal Arts Centre, VOID and Freelance Coordinator Ruth Moore.This project is funded by Derry City Council Community Relations Programme.
Programme Coordinator – Ruth Moore
T: 028 71267672
Eden Place Arts Coordinator – Judi Logue
Address: Eden Place Arts Centre, Pilot’s Row Community Centre, Rossville Street, Derry. BT48 6LP
Derry City Council Museum Rep Bernadette Walsh
T: 028 71377331
Fermanagh Women’s Network are hosting their annual international women’s day festival.
There will be a celebrity opening the festival and various events taking place throughout the day – arts, crafts, live music, dancing, health workshops, therapy rooms, art displays, community sector information etc.
Admission free and everyone welcome.
If your community group or organisation would like to have a stand at this event, contact Fermanagh Women’s Network on 028 6634 3814 or email@example.com.
Women Into Politics Presents as part of the Positive Relations Project
International Women’s Day Dialogue Event
Stormont Buildings Monday 8th March 2010
Places are limited and are filling up fast.
Please contact Nuala on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 028 90243363 to register for this event or for further information.
Northern Ireland Rural Women’s Network in conjunction with the Equality Commission and the Women’s Resource & Development Agency are holding an event to celebrate International Women’s Day 2010 on Monday 8th March in the Dunsilly Hotel, Antrim.
The event starts at 11am and finishes with lunch at 1.15pm.
Our theme this year is ‘Are We There Yet?’ (or is equality still to be achieved).
We will have guest speakers and some lively entertainment.
As spaces are limited early registration is advised.
For further information, to register or to set up an information stand please contact Paula by Wednesday 3rd March. tel: 028 8676 9191 or email: email@example.com