Fwd: World March of Women Newsletter

Coalition on Homelessness, SF (coh@sfo.com)
Thu, 21 Oct 1999 18:48:06 -0800


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World March of Women
Newsletter
Vol. 2, No. 1
July 1999


Marching for hope, equality, peace and democracy

In little more than a year, women will begin marching. The five 
continents will echo with their words, songs, shouts and steps.

Since the time when Quebec feminists launched this appeal for women's 
solidarity worldwide, the project has progressed by leaps and bounds. 
Today more than 130 countries are represented and over 2000 groups 
have signed up. Close to forty national coordinating bodies have been 
established. In other words, right this minute, thousands of women 
are in the process of building a magnificent collective event.

Why so much enthusiasm? Why is the World March of Women in the Year 
2000 sparking so much interest; why is it leading women to waive 
their differences and build a consensus, why is it "luring" them into 
action?

The answer lies in how women live today and the new world they would 
like to live in. Women everywhere are the main victims of neoliberal 
policy. They are poor yet live on a rich planet. They are oppressed 
by patriarchal regimes. In many countries they must fight for their 
most elementary rights: water, food, shelter, paid work, access to 
school and citizenship, freedom to choose to bear children or not, 
and so on.

Some women are particularly discriminated against, for example, 
immigrants and lesbians. All of them wish to see their rights 
recognized, both in their countries and internationally.

Women also initiate, direct and participate in alternatives to 
poverty and violence. They have set up cooperatives, human rights 
groups, community kitchens, unions and women's centres. Now they want 
to go further, and this is what the March represents for them.

The World March resolutely takes issue with poverty and all forms of 
violence against women. It is proposing concrete solutions to both of 
these scourges. Its demands make up a program that is basic and no 
doubt necessary for many years to come. In this sense, the world 
rally at the UN on October 17, 2000 will be both a crowning point and 
a beginning, for other stages are sure to follow.

The objectives we might bear in mind while we organize this 
planet-wide march are:

… to undertake a vast process of popular education during which all 
women can analyze by and for themselves the causes of their 
oppression and the liberating alternatives that are possible;
… to work on the national scale to identify demands related to 
poverty and violence against women and to act to get them implemented;
… to foster solidarity among women of all continents through 
exchanges, common projects and unifying actions. In the context of 
market globalization, solidarity between North and South has become 
crucial in building a resistance movement;
… to promote our world demands by presenting them wherever 
decision-makers must take them into account;
… finally, to lay the foundations of an international feminist 
network where dedicated, militant, creative feminists will want to 
unite to provoke major changes in the order or disorder of the world.

The World March of Women in the Year 2000 sees itself as inclusive 
and respectful of women's diversity, and it gives rise to the 
development of alliances. Its program of demands is resolutely 
feminist and its action, militant. It wants to make a modest but 
convincing contribution to shaking up the established order. It is 
not a end but a beginning.

Are you marching too?

International Liaison Committee

Did you know there is now an International Liaison Committee for the 
World March? Made up of 40 representatives of participating groups 
from all over the world, the Committee assists the Coordinating 
Committee of the March in making decisions related to the world 
demands. Its members also promote the March among new groups and 
serve as links between their respective region's participating groups 
and the Coordinating Committee.

The Liaison Committee mostly works through documents being sent back 
and forth through electronic mail and fax machines to inform or 
consult members. Committee members then send on the information for 
discussion and/or suggestions (if applicable) to the groups and 
national coalitions in the regions they represent. That is how the 
decision was made on where to hold the world rally on October 17, 
2000.

At the present time, we are looking for funds so that the 
International Liaison Committee can meet in November 1999. The 
purpose of the meeting would be to outline the national and regional 
actions planned thus far, to plan the world actions and finalize how 
the latter will unfold.

Distance, financial constraints and our diversity represent major 
challenges to organizing an event of the scope of our March. Against 
this backdrop, the International Liaison Committee is an essential 
means to secure the success of the actions we undertake. The input of 
women from all corners of the earth is the guarantee that ours will 
truly be a world march.






The power of joint action

The World March is the occasion to unite in planet-wide action, while 
at the same time taking part in national and local actions reflecting 
our particular characteristics and our diversity.

As agreed at the International Preparatory Meeting (October 1998, in 
Montreal), the International Liaison Committee studied the action 
scenarios for the worldwide scale. They are now taking shape. Thanks 
to exchanges with International Liaison Committee members and with a 
number of national coordinating bodies, we have now defined the 
targets of the world actions, the venue for the world rally, the form 
the support card will have and the world slogan.

World rally in New York on October 17, 2000

During the International Meeting there was a lot of discussion on 
which institutions to target and where to hold the world rally. Three 
main international bodies emerged from the exchange: the United 
Nations in New York, and the World Bank and International Monetary 
Fund, both in Washington. It was decided that an international 
delegation will be present in Washington on Sunday, October 15, 2000, 
for the U.S. women's national rally. Part of this march will parade 
outside the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Then the 
international delegation will travel to New York for the world rally 
outside the UN building on October 17. This way, the March will 
challenge important strategic bodies representing both economic and 
political power on the international scene.

Millions of signatures expected

As you know, a signature campaign to support the world demands will 
begin on March 8, 2000 and end when the cards are delivered at the UN 
on October 17, 2000.

You will appreciate that it is impossible for us to print and send 
the support cards to all the participating groups. The task of 
printing and distributing the cards will have to fall to the national 
coordinating bodies and participating groups themselves. Thus you 
will be able to print the cards in the language and format of your 
choice. Part of the card content will be common to all, however.

Two card formats are proposed:  the postcard and the group/petition 
card. Some groups suggested printing a detachable card, with one part 
being used for national actions and the other to send to New York. We 
recommend that you use recycled paper as often as possible, but your 
card does not have to be made out of paper. Be creative-without 
forgetting that the cards must be sent to New York and so, small, 
lightweight cards are to be preferred! Before January 2000 we will 
send you a sample support card indicating the common content (logo 
and short text) that should appear.

We urge you to contact your national coordinating body to see about 
organizing the support card campaign in your country. If there is no 
such body where you live, you can join other participating groups 
from your country or region to design and print or photocopy your 
card. Participating groups and national coordinating bodies will take 
charge of distributing, collecting and compiling the cards in their 
region. At the present time, we are looking at different options to 
facilitate sending the cards to New York.

To make sure we collect as many signatures as possible to support the 
demands, two complementary distribution strategies will be used: 
inserting the card in the print media (magazines, etc.) and creating 
a page on the World March Web site so that women with access to 
Internet can include their names. We encourage you to explore the 
feasibility of inserting support cards, together with articles about 
the March, in the print media of your country and region.

You could begin discussing approaches or strategies to ensure 
widespread distribution and to maximize the number of signatures. 
Once again, creativity will take centre stage!

2000 good reasons to march: ....

We tried to find a world slogan with which women could identify. It 
soon became apparent that finding a symbol common to the living 
conditions of the women of the world was impossible. We did however 
come up with a compromise! The slogan "2000 good reasons to march" 
was chosen with a colon (:) at the end so that each country can add 
on its national slogan reflecting its own circumstances and the 
living conditions women hope for. For example, Burkina Faso's slogan 
could be tacked on to the world slogan, as follows: "2000 good 
reasons to march: Djii, suuma, neema" (Water, food, plenitude).

We encourage all participating groups to use this presentation of 
"2000 good reasons to march" on their materials in order to 
standardize the message and to feel that we are all part of the same 
fine, large movement.

Just imagine the richness of our diversity

Let's take five minutes to imagine what the World March of Women in 
the Year 2000 could look like.Š

On the world scale

When you dream of the worldwide actions, what do you see? Millions of 
support card signatures? A sea of women from everywhere at the world 
rally in New York? Impressive media coverage? A heightened awareness 
of poverty and violence against women? A strengthening of the 
international feminist solidarity movement?

In your country

There will be as many ways of mobilizing on the national scale as 
there are countries participating in the March. Each will bear the 
stamp of its traditions and day-to-day reality, the richness of its 
history and culture, and the array of its concerns. Women's 
imagination and creativity know no bounds.

In some countries, women will choose to have a big national rally. 
Others will organize a relay march from one end of the country to the 
other, or simultaneous one-day marches in many cities and towns. 
Together with marches and rallies, others will hold awareness-raising 
workshops, popular theatre, training sessions, school contests, photo 
or art exhibitions, or activities in streets and markets. Still 
others will plan popular shows, doing something particular at the 
same time (making noise or wearing a common symbol), one-hour 
strikes, special programs on community radio stations, making quilts 
or song compositions.

National coalitions made up of different groups in the women's 
movement in each country will coordinate the local and national 
activities having to do with their demands. Some  coalitions may 
decide to take up as national demands some of the world demands that 
are most important in their context. Other coalitions will 
concentrate on existing demands of the women's movement in their 
country in relation to poverty and violence against women.

In your part of the world

Some regions will plan regional actions in which women from several 
countries will get together to act and exchange news. For example, a 
European rally will be held in Brussels on October 14, 2000.

Upon imagining the outcome of the World March, maybe we will be 
saying that it was rooted in concrete reality; that it was 
instrumental in strengthening women's actions and struggles; that it 
found inspiration in the long years of women's groups' commitments 
the world over; and that it reinforced gains already achieved!

Wanted: information!

To provide other groups and countries all over the world with 
information about what is happening in your country, we need your 
help.

Please let us know, as soon as possible, about your:
- plans of action and activities planned as part of the March;
- platforms of national demands;
- strategies to have the support card signed;
- accounts of national meetings;
- national slogans so that we can add them to the list of 2000 (and 
more) good reasons to march!


Mosaic of women's struggles worldwide

Last October, at the International Preparatory Meeting for the March, 
a number of delegates said they would like to share different popular 
education experiences tried in relation to poverty and violence 
against women throughout the world. What could be more inspiring to 
spur us into action than a mosaic of women's struggles worldwide! To 
this end, we will be sending a collection in tribute to women's 
struggles to all participating groups starting in January 2000.

The collection will highlight different forms of struggle, popular 
education experiences and alternative projects championed by the 
world's women. It may also help us devise strategies and popular 
education tools within the framework of the March. Finally, it will 
be useful in the campaign to sign cards in support of the world 
demands, which will be launched on March 8, 2000.

To enhance the collection, we encourage you to send us thoughts or 
poems written by women, popular sayings in your country or any other 
kind of short text that inspires women in your region.


Coming to a cinema near you

"Women's voices heard: separate at first and strikingly diverse in 
tonality and language. The daily rhythms of women at work in all 
corners of the globe: repetitive songs marking time in the fields and 
providing counterpoint to the cadence of the electronic parts 
assembly line; the rhythm of grain threshing and meal preparation; 
songs to instill courage during the long trek to draw water at the 
well or sell goods at the market; lullabies to lull children to sleep 
or comfort the sick; cries of sorrow on the death of a loved one in 
an armed conflict; devastating silence following a child's death from 
hunger; screams of outrage at the rape of a sister, mother, daughter 
or friend; clarion calls for change rising from noisy street 
demonstrationsŠ.

"From every region of the world, these voices of women swell into a 
planetary chorus proclaiming a new millennium free of violence and 
poverty."

Filmmaker Sophie Bissonnette is the originator, producer and 
coordinator of a documentary feature and series centred around the 
historic rendezvous of the World March of Women. She has invited 
seasoned documentary filmmakers from various continents to work on 
the film, which will be released in March 2001. The film will mainly 
focus on projects led by women's groups in different corners of the 
globe to combat violence and poverty and promote an alternative 
vision of society.

Serving simultaneously as an overview, historical context and glimpse 
ahead to the third millennium, the project aims to gather together 
different perspectives developed by women, in a creation that is 
international in scope, humanist in approach, embraces diversity and 
celebrates the all too often undervalued contribution of half of 
humanity. The film may turn out to be an invaluable tool to continue 
on with the March of Women....


Important dates for all

- as of now: Setting up national coordinating bodies (if not already done);
- as of now: National meetings to decide on national demands and 
actions (ideally, this should be done before November 1999 so as to 
send the information to your regional representative who will relay 
it to the meeting of the International Liaison Committee);
- from now to June 2000: Regional meetings in preparation for Beijing 
+ 5 (if you attend the event, don't forget to talk about the March 
and to propose that it be adopted as a pressure tactic to enhance the 
Beijing platform);
- October-November 1999: Sample support cards will be sent out;
- November 1999: Working meeting of the International Liaison Committee;
- January 2000: Tribute to Women's Struggles Worldwide will be sent out;
- March 8, 2000: World March activities will be launched in the media;
- March 8 to October 17: Signing of support cards, popular education 
activities and different local, national and regional actions;
- June 2000: Beijing + 5 international meeting;
- October 1-17, 2000 (or before, depending on the country): Local, 
national and regional marches and rallies;
- October 15: Rally in Washington
- October 17, 2000: World rally in New York and national and local activities.


Sing out!

Music is a wonderful traveller. It crosses time and space to move 
hearts and reach into our souls. It accompanies women in their 
day-to-day lives, shares their joys and sorrows, their struggles and 
triumphs. Above all, music unites and mobilizes people. It is a 
source of hope.

For all these reasons, a musical theme will be composed for the World 
March. The theme will be distributed (on audio cassettes) between now 
and January 2000 so that women can hear it, adopt it as their own and 
write their own lyrics. In fact, writing the lyrics might be an 
activity to mobilize women on March 8, 2000!

A continuumŠ

Many of our demands are on a continuum with those of other groups and 
coalitions. The March is also an extension of what has been 
accomplished by women working with the UN for the past twenty-five 
years.

To maximize its impact, we must seek alliances in support of our 
demands. Many social movements are certainly ready to back some or 
all of them, for example, the trade union and popular movements. 
Moreover, international coalitions exist and organize parallel forums 
to official meetings held by UN agencies. These are places where we 
can take our platform and participate in the activities. We invite 
you to consult the Advocacy Guide to Women's World Demands that we 
wrote; it musters arguments to garner support or to approach social 
actors likely to support us.

We want to mesh the March demands with the Platform for Action 
adopted in Beijing in 1995. This is important given the process 
already begun by States and the UN in preparation for the special 
session of the UN General Assembly in June 2000 in New York. At this 
session, member States will report on their achievements in relation 
to the commitments they undertook five years earlier in Beijing. 
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will also give their 
viewpoints. We are sure to witness many differences of opinion! The 
session will also be the occasion to establish the prospects for 
continuing the Platform for Action. This is where groups 
participating in the March can intervene. The regional and 
subregional meetings to be held in preparation for the June 2000 
meeting (Beijing + 5) will also be excellent venues to press ahead 
with our demands. Whenever possible, we hope to send March 
representatives to those meetings. We urge you to make sure the World 
March of Women in the Year 2000 is on the agenda at all these events.

Please note that a document comparing our demands and the Beijing 
Platform for Action will soon be available on our Web site.

Please note

- The number of groups intending to take part in the March continues 
to grow steadily. By June 30, 1999, a total of 2169 groups from 135 
countries had signed up, and by the time you read this newsletter, 
the number will have increased! Because of women like you who 
"infect" new groups with your enthusiasm for the March, the numbers 
keep growing. Thank you and keep it up!

- The Groupe intervention vidéo (GIV) made an 18-minute video on the 
World March of Women. Full of images taken during the International 
Preparatory Meeting in October 1998, the video can be used in general 
presentations on the March or to start off discussions on poverty and 
violence against women. To order a copy (available in English, French 
and Spanish), contact GIV by telephone: (1) 514-271-5506, by fax: (1) 
514-271-6980 or by e-mail: giv@cam.org. You may also want to visit 
their Web site: www.givideo.org.

- New documents are now available: the Advocacy Guide to Women's 
World Demands and an information document on the rights of lesbians. 
If your organization has not received them, please let us know or 
visit our Web site.

- Would you like to know which groups in your country or a 
neighbouring one have signed up for the March? You can't find a 
document sent to you by the World March office? You want the latest 
news on international developments surrounding the March? You want to 
find out how to get in touch with a national coalition on the other 
side of the world? Don't look any further. Come visit the March's Web 
site at www.ffq.qc.ca. You will also find information there on the 
FFQ, the group that began the project of the March. Of course you may 
also contact us directly for more information (see box for how to 
reach us).

You can Reach us at:

World March of Women
Fédération des femmes du Québec
110 rue Ste-Thérèse, #307
Montréal, Québec
CANADA  H2Y 1E6
Tel.: (1) 514-395-1196
Fax: (1) 514-395-1224
E-mail:  marche2000@ffq.qc.ca
Web Site:  http://www.ffq.qc.ca

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