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International Women’s Day: From Asia to Latin America, marchers decry imperialism
by Kathy Durkin
Email: ww (nospam) workers.org
14 Mar 2006
The imperialists can lie about this day, but women the world over know its essence is fightback—and solidarity. ... Today the socialist legacy of IWD is vital as women deal with capitalist inequality, poverty and oppression. Socialism is needed to truly emancipate women.
International Women’s Day
From Asia to Latin America, marchers decry imperialism
By Kathy Durkin
Published Mar 13, 2006 10:35 PM
The reactionary policies of the U.S. government on globalization, family planning, war and the environment are repudiated by women worldwide. But that didn’t stop President George W. Bush from proclaiming on International Women’s Day, March 8, that his administration is advancing “the equality of women in the world’s newest democracies.”
The imperialists can lie about this day, but women the world over know its essence is fightback—and solidarity.
International Women’s Day this year was celebrated especially in those parts of the world where political consciousness against imperialism is high.
In many demonstrations throughout the Philippines, the strength, courage and determination of women was evident. Defying President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s U.S.-backed regime, which had declared a “state of emergency,” they organized over 30 nationally coordinated protests.
Women simultaneously marched in Northern Luzon, Quezon, the Visayas islands, Mindanao and other areas, carrying colorful banners saying “Assert women’s rights! Stop political repression, persecution and poverty,” and “Never again to martial law.”
They vehemently demanded the ouster of the president. During her term, the conditions of women workers and peasants have deteriorated and the feminization of poverty has grown. Mass unemployment is forcing women to emigrate for jobs, where they are often mistreated. Arroyo hasn’t supported reproductive rights and family planning programs nor has she sought justice for a Filipina woman gang-raped by U.S. Marines last year.
In a major, militant, political demonstration in Makati, Manila’s financial district, 12,000 women from many organizations, leftists, working and poor people, vehemently demanded, “Oust Gloria Arroyo.” Riot police attacked this march, arresting key leaders.
Demonstrators also targeted the U.S. military presence in their country and the resultant sexual trafficking and abuse. Objecting to joint U.S.-Philippine war games, women marched to the U.S. Embassy in Manila, where they demanded that U.S. troops leave.
In Latin America, Venezuelan women led thousands in a militant anti-imperialist procession to the U.S. Embassy. A truckload of petitions with 2 million signatures called for the U.S. to leave Iraq now. Armed with Venezuelan flags, President Hugo Chávez’s photograph, and posters decrying U.S. President George W. Bush, they demanded the imperialists leave Iraq and the U.S. close its base in Guantanamo, Cuba. “We women want peace,” they said.
Nicaraguan women marched to the U.S. Embassy in Managua with the same message, which was also seen on banners in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Also in Brazil, 500 women occupied the Roca de la Raposa ranch on IWD. Members of the Brazilian Landless Rural Workers’ Movement, they demanded land reforms and property for women.
Indigenous people’s groups and farmers marched in Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay and elsewhere, demanding full rights.
The Cuban Women’s Federation (FMC) protested the U.S. occupation of Iraq with a march through Havana to the Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Tribunal near the U.S. Interests Section. The FMC also condemned U.S. aggression against Cuba and the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban Five. They cheered on socialist Cuba’s economic advances and the large proportion of women—57 percent—who have participated in Cuba’s internationalist missions, from Venezuela to Pakistan.
Another anti-war march, with over 2,000 women, took place in Cuba’s Eastern province of Holguin.
The South African government commemorated International Women’s Day in Cape Town by launching a campaign to mark the 50th anniversary of the monumental 1956 women’s march in Pretoria against the hated apartheid pass system. Tribute was paid to women leaders in the historic South African liberation movement.
In Bangladesh, thousands of garment workers and other women marched in Dhaka for the right to decent wages, safe working conditions, and an end to anti-woman violence. Of the country’s 2 million garment workers, 85 percent are women. The industry brings in $6 billion in exports annually. Safety is compromised in the rush to profits—a recent fire at the KTS garment factory in Chittagong caused 56 deaths.
Women in Seoul, South Korea, pushed for workers’ rights and better working conditions at an anti-government demonstration. Pakistani women rallied in many cities for an end to discrimination and sexual violence. Indonesian women in Ache protested state repression, while Nepalese women marched for equality, democracy and trade union rights.
When European women socialists proclaimed International Women’s Day in 1910, they recognized the need for worldwide solidarity with working women’s struggles. This is especially important today in those countries that are under U.S.-backed occupation: Iraq, Haiti, Palestine and Afghanistan.
Today the socialist legacy of IWD is vital as women deal with capitalist inequality, poverty and oppression. Socialism is needed to truly emancipate women.
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