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IWD Forum Series Report Back
In commemoration and celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th, Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) organized a March 2009 forum series titled “Women’s Rights at Home & Abroad in the New Era of War & Occupation.” These forums gave an important perspective into the struggle of women for equality and justice, historically and today, the achievements women have made, and how the women’s movement must advance. These topics were discussed in the context of the new era of war and occupation and the current global economic crisis, two major factors which are hampering the women’s movement.
The first forum took place on March 9th at the Whalley Public Library in Surrey, and the second took place at Joes Café in Vancouver on March 11th, with over 60 people attending through the two events.
The forums began with series of film clips that outlined the situation for women under war and occupation, as well as the achievements made. The presentations opened with Janine Solanki, MAWO co-chair and event MC, who gave an overview of the roots of the first International Women’s Day almost 100 years ago, and the course of it’s tumultuous and proud history.
Nita Palmer, secretary of MAWO, spoke on the situation for women under this new era of war and occupation. She outlined how women in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and other nations under war and occupation, including Indigenous nations in Canada, are forced to fight just to survive, while the fight for women’s rights remains.
Tamara Hansen, Coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC), highlighted the continual gains and achievements of women in Cuba, who since the 1959 revolution have taken a leading role in fighting for their rights and determining the future of their country.
Alison Bodine, a MAWO co-chair who is fighting a two year ban from Canada due to political targeting by the Canada Border Services Agency, spoke via live video conferencing from New York. She discussed the vibrant IWD demonstration in New York City and strongly spoke of the current struggle of predominantly women workers of the Stella D’oro factory in New York who are continuing a 6-month strike demanding basic and decent working conditions.
Kerri Goodwin, an Ojicree activist, Executive Committee member of MAWO and organizer with the Indigenous Rights and Action Project (IRAP) spoke passionately on what life is like for Indigenous women living under occupation in Canada. She talked about the hypocrisy of the government of Canada, who has occupied Afghanistan with excuses of “liberating women” while Indigenous women here at home suffer high rates of murder and abduction, and face 3rd world conditions on reserves.
The presentations were followed by lively discussions and concluded with a recognition that the struggle of women must not only be discussed during International Women’s Day, but is a continuous issue for the antiwar and women’s movement worldwide, 365 days a year.