WLUML reflections on International Women’s Day 2010

Dear friends

Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) International Solidarity Network would like to wish you a positive, pro-active and peaceful International Women’s Day 2010! We would also like to thank all of our networkers for the good wishes we have received today. To quote from Aswat http://www.aswatgroup.org/english/ : “On this day we celebrate our achievements and accomplishments, we also remember that our road is still long and the struggle needs more women willing to fight for their rights”

WLUML and the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women (SKSW) recently hosted a very successful panel at the 54th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (you can read their statement here http://www.wluml.org/node/6019) where many of the most critical challenges facing women living in Muslim-majority contexts were addressed, often with reference to particular countries: ‘Culture’ and Violence Against Women as a global phenomenon; Stoning is not our culture, Iran and Nigeria; Criminalisation and inhuman punishment of women and girls through laws, Indonesia; VAW in the context of conflict and culture of lawlessness, Afghanistan; Sexual Harassment: the hidden, unspoken form of Cultural VAW, Sudan.

Rashida Manjoo, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, together with the other UN independent experts, called today for a new vision of women’s rights informed by the lessons learnt from the 15 year review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, warning that: ‘… old challenges in the protection of women’s rights remain, such as multiple forms of discrimination. In addition, new challenges have emerged in conjunction with phenomena like the global financial crisis, political violence, displacement and migration, and the acceleration in environmental degradation. The continued use of brutal violence against women, including sexual violence, as a weapon of war in conflict situations also remains a pressing concern. At the domestic level, lack of implementation of laws and other commitments to secure women’s rights, and the lack of gender sensitive budgetary policies, remain chronic problems….’

We learn that in Afghanistan, ambivalence, impunity, weak law enforcement and corruption continue to undermine women’s rights, despite a July 2009 law banning violence against women, and in an open letter to the United Nations Secretary General, the European Women’s Lobby declares that “The 54th Session of the CSW…represents a step backwards by its failure to offer a new vision and mechanisms for implementation”.

Resistance by women to an unjust global economic order is, however, very much alive. In Iran, women are revolting against an oppressive regime; in Gaza and the West Bank, Palestinian women are organizing an international boycott of Israel; in Italy, France and Spain, immigrant women have gone on strike against xenophobic racism; in Australia, feminists convened a national conference to coordinate and re-energize the abortion rights movement.

Here we look at some of the ways that IWD is being celebrated by WLUML networkers in spite of the spread of fundamentalisms and increased militarisation in many regions:

Brussels – Women’s World March On March 6, the Belgian Women’s World March celebrated the 100th International Women’s Day. 5,000 women and men marched through the streets of Brussels in a festive and militant march calling for justice, equality, peace and solidarity.

Pakistan – WEMC

WEMC-Shirkat Gah is part of SG’s efforts with other human rights groups to support peasant women who will gather in Lahore from all over the Punjab province to convince the provincial government to emulate a Sindh-based scheme of land distribution to women which they learned of through WEMC. Indeed the two formal peasant women’s organisations associated with the Punjab Peasants’ Association were catalysed through WEMC research. WEMC shall accompany the women and also film them to complete the SG-WEMC film on the peasant women’s struggle.

Senegal – WLUML-SKSW

As part of the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women (SKSW), on the 5 March there was a day of reflection and a workshop addressing the theme of ‘Violence is not our culture’ and from the 8 to 22 March, there is an exhibition of women artists at the Leopold Sedar Senghor gallery.

United States – CWGL

The Center For Women’s Global Leadership’s 20th Anniversary Symposium on 6 March featured prominent speakers from the global women’s movement (including Charlotte Bunch, Pinar Ilkkaracan and Lydia Alpizar) reflecting on body economy movement as well as taking the opportunity to celebrate IWD by hosting a dance party.

Please contact us with news of how you celebrated International Women’s Day!

In Solidarity,

Women Living Under Muslim Laws
International Solidarity Network


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