International Women's Day 2010

International Women’s Day: View from the ground (in Wales)

Posted in 2010 03 08, Statements Press Releases, Wales by womeninlondon on 9 March 2010
    Feminist activist Hannah Austin on how International Women’s Day events this year are a great example of grassroots community activism

For women’s organisations, coming up for air from the daily grind to celebrate International Women’s Day is nothing new – the first IWD was celebrated in 1909.

But the level of participation from the wider community in Cardiff has increased hugely over the last couple of years.

Last year, we coordinated a festival of sorts to unite disparate IWD activities from women’s organisations and increase local participation. The level of response was overwhelming, and we ended up with a fortnight-long programme including most of the major venues in Cardiff.

This year, something similar is going on – but it’s growth has been more organic and community-led. There’s no steering group (as there was last year), no management, no infrastructure to speak of. The website we set up last year continues, where people can post their events for free. But everyone has really taken the ball and run with it. It’s as if the seeds were sown last year, and now people are just getting on with it themselves.

Personally I find the ‘DIY’ ethic and grassroots-led approach truly inspirational. While it’s certainly important for women’s sector organisations to raise the profile of their work, it is just as important for events to be community-focused, accessible, visible, and – dare I say it?! – fun.

The Welsh Assembly Government’s funding theme for this year is ‘getting more women into political and public life’. Few people would question the importance of getting more women represented in mainstream political institutions. But it’s also important to empower young women and girls to have the confidence to do whatever they want and to be inspired by seeing other women centre-stage doing things that interest them: whether that’s picking up a guitar, talking about their experiences or finding out how to stand for public office.

The way I got involved in activism was through music and arts, not through political debate or conferencing – that’s the same for lots of women I know around my age (25). I think a turning point occurred at Ladyfest Bristol 2004 (a feminist festival), where I met and talked to several women from Cardiff. We decided to stop moaning about the male-dominated nature of the music ‘scene’ in Cardiff back then, and came back brimming with ideas for doing it ourselves. From that, we organised fundraising gigs for local women’s refuges; Peppermint Patti was formed, and we organised a multi-venue, city-wide festival in 2006 with feminist workshops, female artists, musicians, performers and films, drawing the links between women’s under-representation in the arts and the feminist movement more widely. From these activities, further networks were formed, several of which are continuing and represented in IWD Cardiff 2010.

This is the way it works with grassroots action: networks create networks. Events like IWD should take multiple formats because people have different interests.

Feminism should be a populist movement focused on engaging as many women and men as possible in ending sexism, because sexism is damaging for everyone. And public life is not just mainstream politics; it’s also about what you do in your everyday life, about seeing your experiences reflected: seeing women centre-stage, and feeling inspired and empowered to do that yourself.

The ultimate aim, of course, is for none of this to have to happen – for there to be no need to organise events promoting women into public and political life, because they’ll be there already, with their lives unmarred by violence, earning an equal wage, with adequate and affordable childcare for their kids, and represented equally in all echelons of society. But until we achieve that, there is still a need for this. So get out there, get involved, and get inspired. Here’s to a public holiday for IWD 2011!

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This is a guest post (on guardian blog) from Hannah Austin, 25, feminist activist from Welsh Women’s Aid. Hannah has been involved in organising International Women’s Day events in Cardiff from the outset. She is currently forming a network of women to work on a feminist festival next year called Breaking the Waves. You can email Hannah or Twitter: @FeministCardiff.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/cardiff/2010/mar/08/international-womens-day

Read and add comments at http://www.guardian.co.uk/cardiff/2010/mar/08/international-womens-day#start-of-comments

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Recommit to women’s liberation: On International Women’s Day we launch a manifesto for 21st-century feminism

Posted in 2010 03 08, England, Ireland Northern, Scotland, Statements Press Releases, Wales by womeninlondon on 9 March 2010

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
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/08/international-womens-day-manifesto

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

Posted in 2010 03 08, England, Ireland Northern, Scotland, Statements Press Releases, Wales by womeninlondon on 9 March 2010

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
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/08/conervative-policy-women

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

Women on boards: Public want quicker pace of change – Government Press Release on 8th March 2010

Posted in 2010 03 08, England, Ireland Northern, Scotland, Statements Press Releases, Wales by womeninlondon on 9 March 2010

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[1].

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[2].

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”. [3]

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.

Notes:
* 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.
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    [1] According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission
    [2] Cranfield School of Management Female FTSE 100 Index 2009
    [3] 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

Alexandra Kollontai 1913: ‘Women’s Day’ February 1913

Posted in 2010 03 08, Global, Statements Press Releases by womeninlondon on 8 March 2010
    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.

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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.

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    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.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/kollonta/1913/womens-day.htm

International Women’s Day: Looking Back

Posted in 2010 03 08, Global, Statements Press Releases by womeninlondon on 8 March 2010

Introduction

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.

History

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.

http://www.un.org/womenwatch/feature/iwd/history.html

United Nations IWD Theme 2010

Posted in 2010 03 08, Global, Statements Press Releases by womeninlondon on 8 March 2010

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

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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.

http://www.un.org/womenwatch/feature/iwd/

Women’s Aid and Avon launch the Empowering Women Awards

Posted in 2010 03 08, England, Statements Press Releases by womeninlondon on 7 March 2010

Women’s Aid is proud to announce the Empowering Women Awards

To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th 2010, Avon UK and Women’s Aid are launching the Empowering Women Awards, which provide an unprecedented opportunity to celebrate the achievements and bravery of a host of incredible women across the UK. The Awards, which are in association with Marie Claire magazine, will honour both women who have been affected directly by domestic violence and those who are working tirelessly in the field to support survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.

Judges for the Awards include Women’s Aid Patron Sarah Brown, Ambassador Tana Ramsay, Avon Global Ambassador Reese Witherspoon, Marie Claire Editor Trish Halpin, Women’s Aid Chief Executive Nicola Harwin CBE and Avon UK President Anna Segatti.

Women’s Aid Chief Executive Nicola Harwin CBE said: “As well as celebrating the triumphs of survivors of domestic violence, we also want to highlight the fantastic work of the campaigners, activists and service providers that work so hard to end violence against women and children. If you or someone you know deserves an Award, go to http://www.womensaid.org.uk/awards and nominate now.”

Forward this email to all your contacts, tell all your friends, and celebrate the women in your life!

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Women’s Aid, PO Box Bristol 391, BS99 7WS
Phone: 0117 944 4411
Fax: 0117 924 1703
Email: info@womensaid.org.uk

Freephone 24 hr National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247
Email: helpline@womensaid.org.uk

The Helpline is run in partnership between Women’s Aid & Refuge.

Your chance to nominate an amazing inspirational woman who deserves recognition

Posted in Statements Press Releases by womeninlondon on 2 March 2010

Here’s your chance to nominate an amazing inspirational woman who deserves recognition in the Daily Mirror.

To mark International Women’s Day we will be featuring the very best stories of women around Britain who make a huge difference to the lives of those around them.

Maybe it’s a mum, a teacher, a nurse who goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Or it could be someone living near you who has helped bring everyone together.

Email us at features@mirror.co.uk naming your Woman Of The Year, telling us why she should be honoured and what makes her so special.

Or write to us at Mirror Woman Of The Year, Features, Daily Mirror, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5AP. Don’t forget to include your own name, address and daytime phone number.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2010/02/08/your-chance-to-nominate-an-amazing-inspirational-woman-who-deserves-recognition-115875-22026589/

The most inspiring female of the past century – place your vote now

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2010/02/26/the-most-inspiring-female-of-the-past-century-place-your-vote-now-115875-22070259/

March 8th is the day of solidarity with the movement of the people of Iran for freedom!

Posted in 2010 03 08, Global, Statements Press Releases by womeninlondon on 17 February 2010

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.

Mina Ahadi
Mahin Alipour
Shahla Daneshfar
Maryam Namazie

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 manifestzanan@gmail.com or iransolidaritynow@gmail.com; call 0049-1775692413 or 0044-7719166731 or visit http://equalrightsnow-iran.com/ or http://iransolidarity.org.uk/.