International Women’s Day

Via GallusMag:

Edited to add:

Equality for women a distant goal in the world

(AP) – 36 minutes ago

Egyptian women demanding equal rights on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day were shoved by men who said they should go home where they belong. Congolese women asked their government to protect them from systematic rapes, and women in Croatia who lost their jobs accused the government of corruption.

But the centennial anniversary of the day established by socialist women to promote better working conditions, the right to vote and hold public office, and equality with men, also was marked Tuesday by festivities including dancing in the street in South Korea’s capital and a 10-kilometer run by some 8,000 women in Mexico City.

Super-sleuth James Bond actor Daniel Craig got into the act — trading his signature suit for a flowing blond wig, print dress, pearls and heels for a short film marking the day that highlights the inequalities faced by women around the world.

Speaking at U.N. headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recalled that 100 years ago “gender equality was a largely radical idea.”

While progress since then should be celebrated, he said, “We must also remember that — in too many countries and in too many societies — women remain second-class citizens, denied their fundamental rights, deprived of legitimate opportunity.”

Their second-class status was evident in Cairo’s now famous Tahrir Square, which protesters who succeeded in ousting President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11 used as their base. Hundreds of women — some in headscarves and flowing robes, others in jeans — who marched to the square to celebrate the anniversary, demand equality and an end to sexual harassment were soon outnumbered by men who chased them out.

“They said that our role was to stay home and raise presidents, not to run for president,” said Farida Helmy, a 24-year-old journalist.

In troubled Ivory Coast, thousands of women defiantly marched to the bloodstained street where seven female demonstrators armed only with tree branches symbolizing peace were brutally killed last week by soldiers in armored personnel carriers who opened fire.

The women had tried to march every day since Thursday’s attack but lost their nerve in the face of an army loyal to strongman Laurent Gbagbo who has refused to relinquish the presidency to the internationally recognized winner of the November election, Alessane Ouattara.

The women escaped attack Tuesday, but hours later the army burst into Treichville, the downtown neighborhood where they marched, and killed at least four civilians. Reporters saw the bodies of three men and one woman on the blood-splattered floor of a clinic.

In Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, the president’s wife, Olive Kabila, joined the march against rape, which has long been used as a weapon of war in the country. At least 8,300 rapes were reported in 2009 but aid workers say the true toll is much higher.

In Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, and the Adriatic port of Rijeka, protesters marking International Women’s Day demanded jobs and called for the government to resign. In Manila, demonstrators demanded justice for “comfort women” forced into prostitution in World War II, and in Gaza, hundreds of Palestinian women called for an end to the rift between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Fatah, which controls the West Bank.

At an all-star gathering of women in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said women must be included in any process of democratic reform in the Middle East.

“In the coming months and years, the women in Egypt and Tunisia and other nations have just as much right as the men to remake their governments — to make them responsive, accountable, transparent,” she told the audience that included First Lady Michelle Obama and the female president of Kyrgyzstan and prime minister of Australia.

Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who now heads the new U.N. agency to promote women’s rights, said the pioneering women who launched the annual commemoration would probably look at the world today “with a mixture of pride and disappointment.”

Over one million women and men took to the streets in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on what was originally called International Working Women’s Day on March 19, 1911 to demand an end to discrimination.

The day became popular in Eastern Europe, Russia and the former Soviet bloc, and eventually spread around the globe. In some regions, it lost its political flavor and became an occasion for men to express their love for women with candy and flowers while in other regions, women’s struggle for human rights and political and social equality remained the focus.

In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating March 8 as International Women’s Day. Two years later the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a day for women’s rights and international peace.

Despite major progress over the last 100 years, “the hopes of equality expressed on that first International Women’s Day are a long way from being realized,” said Bachelet, who became the first executive director of UN Women in January.

Girls are still less likely to be in school than boys, almost two-thirds of illiterate adults are women, and every 90 seconds a woman dies in pregnancy or due to childbirth-related complications despite the knowledge and resources to make births safe, she said. Women also continue to earn less than men for the same work and have unequal inheritance rights and access to land.

Despite some high-profile advances, Bachelet said, only 28 women are heads of state or government and just 8 percent are peace negotiators. Last week, the Inter-Parliamentary reported that while the number of women in legislatures reached an all-time high of 19.1 percent in 2010, “the target of gender balance in politics is still a distant one.”

19 thoughts on “International Women’s Day

  1. FAB Libber

    International Women’s Day. So unfaiiiiir to teh menz.
    They only get the other 364 days of the year.
    It’s discrimination I tells ya!!!

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  2. Jilla

    There are a couple things I do really like about this vid. It deals with WESTERN women’s equality lack.

    For some reason it has become the norm to only talk about third world women on International Women’s Day. Yes, I know I have more than the majority of them, am (currently) safer, better fed, etc. But of course the reason WHY we must focus on third-world women on this day is because as men would have it, WE’VE GOT IT ALL. And we took it from them. Haven’t they GIVEN enough!!

    I also like Judi Drench.

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  3. FAB Libber

    Good point Jilla.
    I actually like the focus on Mr Suited Nigel, who has it all. Shows that his benefits come at our costs, and no, feminism has not ‘achieved everything’ yet, and we still have a long way to go for equality. Even though I want a step further, liberation!

    Google has a link to an IWD page: http://www.google.co.uk/events/iwd2011/
    I clicked on their IWD piccy.

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  4. Jilla

    It’s the dress and wig part I don’t get.

    On related fronts: I see the twistiTrans blog has revered to answering the question of why transweenies are really women with Nya nya nnn nya nya, because, so there. Real science.

    Jill’s claim to science was through her education at a cordon bleu school. Everyone knows cooking is very sciency.

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  5. Sargasso Sea

    Speaking of Judi, what’s say we reclaim “dame” while we’re at it.

    I mean it IS a title conferred upon women for being *masters* of their trade.

    Dame FAB Libber! Dame Jilla! Dame S4! Dame (kickass radfem; you know who you are)!

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  6. FAB Libber

    Actually, I picked my own:
    Her Supreme Radicalness, Libber of the Fabulousness.
    Henceforth, address me as such. And add lots of bowing and stuff. Nah, actually, only teh menz have to bow and scrape before me. As their punishment for making women dress in uncomfortable shoes and clothing, or too revealing, for so long, they will also only be permitted to wear budgie-smugglers at all times. Even when it’s really cold. Payback is a beyatch.

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  7. Jilla

    Her Supreme Radicalness, Libber of the Fabulousness:

    To whit. (?)

    This is like when whites take native headdresses and beadwork and put it in their museum, and only rare white dudes with flaky skin and shriveled dicks get to see it and pontificate on it, while wearing rubbery gloves, and the native people have to pay to get into the museum to see their foremothers clothing behind glass. I want our herstory re pat mat riated.

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  8. FAB Libber

    Just thought I would copy this here too:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/mar/06/feminism-global-challenge-one-voice

    Mariella Frostrup
    Sunday 6 March 2011

    Feminism’s global challenge: With one voice

    This Tuesday, International Women’s Day will focus our attention on the struggle that millions still face against injustice and discrimination. In an impassioned essay, Mariella Frostrup argues that the fight for women’s rights is far from over

    In the western world the greatest triumph of spin in the last century is reflected in attitudes to feminism. Our struggle for emancipation and equality has been surreptitiously rewritten as a harpy bra-burning contest while elsewhere, in less affluent parts of the world, the response is altogether different. From Mozambique to Chad, South Africa and Liberia, Sierra Leone to Burkina Faso, feminism is the buzzword for a generation of women determined to change the course of the future for themselves and their families. At female gatherings all over sub-Saharan Africa you’ll find enthusiasm and eager signatories to the cause.

    Not, they’re quick to point out, that they’re fans of the strident man bashing we enthusiastically took part in during feminism’s second wave. Theirs is a quiet, dignified and entirely implacable determination to make equality not just an aspiration but a reality, in the areas of life where it most counts, from government to enterprise. And they’re achieving it, too. Under the banner of Gender is My Agenda, with the encouragement of the African Union, which has named this the Decade of African Women, small women’s groups across the African continent are coming together to lobby, draw strength, learn leadership and conflict-negotiating skills and support each other in creating and sustaining small businesses.

    Women’s role in conflict resolution was highlighted in Liberia, first in ending the bloody reign of Charles Taylor and then in electing the first ever female African president, the recent Nobel Peace prize nominee Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Johnson-Sirleaf has also this year won the coveted African Gender Award for helping poor women send children to school and for developing a female enterprise fund. In neighbouring Rwanda, women now outnumber men in parliament (by 52% to 48% men).

    Conversely, in the UK there are more blokes called Dave and Nick in government than there are women MPs. Women continue to hover at a steady 19% in the chamber, put off perhaps by a testosterone-fuelled climate where the last two prime ministers’ wives have given up high- flying careers to support their husbands or simply to satisfy the perceived demands of middle England. Meanwhile, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, instead of receiving praise, was drowned in a chorus of derision for attempting a degree of shared parenting with his working wife Miriam.

    In the face of such continuing inequities, do a straw poll in a room full of modern Brits and you’ll find that those willing to commit to the F word are few and far between. But, Top Gear presenters aside, I wonder if members of either sex actually disagree with what feminism set out to achieve, which is the social, economic and political equality of the sexes (see any definition for confirmation of those goals). Better yet, it’s a battle we’ve all but won. Time for a pat on the back to all concerned, and special thanks to Emmeline Pankhurst, Germaine Greer and the rest.

    The myth of equality, or near enough, was one I fell for like so many others until I was asked to participate in a debate at the Royal Geographical Society a few years ago. “We’re All Feminists Now” asserted the motion – and faced with the literary might of the likes of Howard Jacobson and Tim Lott I was initially struck dumb, fearing it was going to be a tough challenge to argue the opposite. A quick Google put me straight. Two-thirds of children denied school are girls, 64% of the world’s illiterate adults are women, 41m girls are still denied a primary education, 75% of civilians killed in war are women and children, causing Major-General Patrick Cammaert, the former UN peacekeeping commander in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to declare in 2008: “It is now more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in modern conflict.”

    These are staggering statistics, and yet not powerful enough to make arguing for women’s rights a respectable pursuit, rather than the aggressive histrionics of popular perception. International Women’s Day, the one day a year when we’re encouraged to celebrate what we’ve achieved and highlight what still needs to be done, conjures less bile than the F word, but also more apathy. When women are allowed to vote, work, choose when to have babies and dress in whatever fashion pleases them, what on earth do they need their own day for as well?

    The fact that 700,000 people will experience domestic violence in the UK, and 90% of them are white British females, that there are sex slaves imported daily to this country who live lives of abject terror, that equal pay is still not a reality nearly four decades after the act enshrining it was passed, that the conviction rate in rape cases still hovers around 6.5%, that only 12% of the UK’s boardroom seats (as compared to Norway’s 32%) are occupied by women, are just a small smattering of reasons why women’s rights should remain a priority even here in the UK.

    Further afield, the positive impact that gender equality can and is beginning to make in the developing world can’t be underestimated. Recent research from the International Food Policy Research Unit finds that equalising women’s status would lower child malnutrition by 13% – that’s 13.4 million children – in South Asia and by 3% (1.7 million children) in sub-Saharan Africa. That’s a lot of lives to save by just doing what’s right.

    Saving women’s lives in childbirth and protecting them from HIV infection must remain a priority, but if those women have no rights or opportunities, you are also sentencing them to a life of unadulterated hardship. Yet try to tell the stories of the inspirational groups of feisty femmes currently creating havoc with the status quo in the developing world, or make a programme highlighting the quantifiable difference to a country’s GDP that comes with educating girls, or celebrate the small business women across Africa who keep that continent alive, and interest evaporates.

    My email to the BBC requesting some form of support for International Women’s Day didn’t get a reply. You could be forgiven for thinking that, in this country, what matters to women is still not considered a priority. Instead, people ask why there isn’t an International Men’s Day – the only response to that being that it happens on the other 364 days of the year. I’m not being dismissive, but continuing my quick perusal of feminism’s failures across the globe makes the need to carry on shouting from a soapbox pretty clear.

    Gender-based violence causes more deaths and disabilities among women aged 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war. Basically it’s safer to spend Friday nights chain smoking on the M1 with a bag of Congolese mosquitoes, in fog, than to be a woman in large swathes of the world. It’s not possible to have a daughter (as I do) and ignore the fact that every year, 60 million girls are sexually assaulted at or en route to school. One in five women will become a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. One in four women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime – many of these on a number of occasions. Women who experience violence are up to three times more likely to acquire HIV. Indeed, it is now among women and children, not the men spreading it, that Aids is most prevalent. Among national governments, 29% lack laws or policies to prevent violence against women. Women hold only 19% of the world’s parliamentary seats, perfectly echoed in our own chamber. Have you had enough yet? I certainly had.

    Rage is a powerful motivating force, I discovered, and I decided to see for myself what was happening out there. I visited Internally Displaced Peoples camps in Chad where women refugees from Darfur were being raped daily when they ventured out to gather firewood so they could cook for their children. In Mozambique I cried frustrated tears as the 12 women farmers gathered around me raised their hands in shame and in unison to indicate that every one of them was a victim of domestic violence, a crime they were campaigning to have outlawed. And yes, this was only last year.

    So forgive me if I struggle to find sexist jokes funny in a country where sex slavery is on the rise and 16- and 17-year-old girls from countries around the world have been abducted, raped and forced into prostitution. Though I might chuckle a bit if those jokes were being told by a Bangladeshi businesswoman celebrating her daughter’s Cambridge degree… Is it triumphalist to applaud when a woman over 50 takes on the discriminatory ageism of a giant corporation and wins, as in the case of TV presenter Miriam O’Reilly? And we are the lucky ones, living in a society where the possibility of justice, if not always the reality of it, exists.

    There are women all over the world to whom the bounty of our lives is utterly unimaginable. Until a couple of years ago I was guilty, as many of us are, of charity fatigue. I just couldn’t be bothered to wear one more T-shirt, donate one more item of clothing, go to one more carol concert or buy one more charity record. Until the extent of the greatest crime of the 21st century, a crime being perpetrated against millions of my fellow women denied even basic human rights, became too much to bear.

    That’s why a group of us set up Great – the Gender Rights and Equality Action Trust. That’s why individuals like Annie Lennox and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became active patrons. But it’s not just “sisters that are doing it”. Bono and Damon Albarn have joined our ranks – this is not a women’s issue any longer; this is a human issue. There’s a new wave of support sweeping from the developed to the developing world through women joining forces and rolling up their sleeves to lend a hand. Weareequals.org is a coalition of NGOs large and small, which have joined forces to pursue gender equality as a tool for economic empowerment. Countries where girls are educated and women play their part in government are places where peace reigns and economies begin to flourish, and women are more interested in ending wars than starting them – there are endless statistics that prove this to be the reality.

    The emancipation of women is the only possible future for the developing world, as it was and continues to be for us. There are too many people on this planet for us to be able to afford to leave nearly 50% of them in penury, uneducated and without a voice. Making women equal partners makes sense for both sexes. My profound hope is that we can, men and women alike, work together to create the circumstances in which International Women’s Day can become the cause for celebration it should be. Once that’s been achieved we’ll work on creating that International Men’s Day, too – promise.For more information about Great, go to thegreatinitiative.com

    Mariella Frostrup is a TV presenter and Observer columnist

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  9. FAB Libber

    Yeah, it is feminist-lite. But, I liked it from the pov that “we still need feminism”. Always a good message, and good to have repeated in the malestream meeja that insists “feminism has done its job”

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  10. FAB Libber

    Chechen Leader Enforces Islamic Dress Code, Rights Group Says

    Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed leader of Russia’s mainly Muslim Chechnya region, is forcing women to respect an Islamic dress code and condoning punitive attacks on those who defy the rules, Human Rights Watch said.

    Chechen authorities are requiring women to wear a headscarf and dress in long skirts and sleeves in all public places, including offices, schools, universities, entertainment venues, movie theaters and outdoor areas, the New York-based rights group said in a report issued today.

    In mid-2010, men mostly dressed like local law enforcement officials shot dozens of women in the Chechen capital Grozny with paintball guns for wearing clothes deemed to be revealing, the group said. The men also handed out leaflets that warned the women they would face more “persuasive” measures if they failed to comply, the report said.

    Then-Russian President Vladimir Putin, now prime minister, groomed Kadyrov, 34, to lead Chechnya after his father Akhmad was killed in a bomb attack in 2004. The southern region has been wracked by two separatist wars since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Kadyrov and his father initially fought on the rebel side before swearing loyalty to Moscow. Human Rights Watch, which tracks government abuse, has accused Kadyrov of ordering abductions and torture. He has denied the allegations.

    The efforts to enforce an Islamic dress code violate Russian law, said Human Rights Watch researcher Tanya Lokshina.
    Dress Code

    “These attacks against women are outrageous and the alleged involvement of law enforcement officials is of special concern,” Lokshina said in a statement. “The Kremlin should publicly and unambiguously make clear, in particular to the Chechen authorities, that Chechen women, like all Russians, are free to dress as they choose.”

    Kadyrov in a Feb. 19 interview with Bloomberg News said he had issued instructions for the dress code to protect Chechen women’s modesty in compliance with Russian laws.

    “If we tell them to respect a certain dress code, then they must do so,” Kadyrov said. “We have the right to do so, we are applying the laws of the Chechen republic, which don’t contradict those of the Russian Federation.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-10/chechen-leader-enforces-islamic-dress-code-rights-group-says.html

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