Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

WILPFers in DC Streets and Elsewhere

I look forward to the reports, especially the photographs, taken by my sister WILPFers who are currently in Washington, DC. I live in Chicago and could not afford to be in DC (and am actually under the weather this weekend). So, I'm monitoring events as I can. I've got to say that television, radio, and internet coverage is not that good. It took me a long time to find C-SPAN on my tv, which is showing the speeches still going on (to a now non-existent crowd) at The Ellipse in DC. Apparently, there are at least 20 blocks of marchers in the streets. I cannot see that, since C-SPAN cannot afford to take a camera out into the streets. I can't find live pictures on an IndyMedia site. The closest I've been able to find is the live stream from KPFK, a Pacifica radio station in my hometown, Los Angeles. But they too aren't actually covering the march. And they cut off unfamous speakers earlier today from DC. I know it's not exciting to most people to watch a march, but I want to see how many people are in DC.

I look forward to the day when WILPF speakers are prominent at national rallies and when we have a strong, grassroots media that can provide live coverage of progressive events. I also look forward to the day when our Raging Grannies are not just recognized, but also recognized as WILPF members. As we help grow the larger movement for justice and peace, let us come together to increase WILPF's membership and prominence.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Update: Report Needed re UN Meeting on Violence Against Women

The following post was submitted by Boston branch member Minga Claggett-Borne.
Dear WILPF freinds,

May the calamities in the Gulf states in the coast of NC open our hearts and inform our analysis of the US dilemma.

As way of introduction: I'm a daughter of a pioneering social activist, greatgranddaughter of the Confederacy, I'm a mother of 2 teenager boys, I'm a war tax resister, I've worked with survivors of violence most recently in health clinics. Currently my primary community of activism is my Quaker meeting and I work doing research with patients at the urban Boston hospital.

I attended with other WILPF members the Sept 6-7 sessions on Violence Against Women at the UN. I met Milkah and Sam who are quite industrious working for Peace women and stopping gender-based violence. Watch out for UN WILPH's activities.

The UN conference had many ideas and terrific women there. But I missed having voices of women speaking from their own experience of violence. I spoke more as an advocate working with survivors of Intimate Partner Abuse. The ideas seemed quite erudite, a bit too academic for my plebian tastes, with not enough threshing time.

Still I learned valuable lessons: how Canada erased the word rape from its laws because it was problematic and universally says 'sexual assault.' Uganda has a Ministry of Gender right up there with other departments of defense and education.

We need to turn in a 3 page report (or two) to the UN by the 2nd week in October.

Here's where I'd like to start the dialogue:

1. How do we ask member states to be accountable for action against violence against women?

2. How do we address the underlying structures of violence? Violence against women will never cease while violence against Blacks, or gays, or the homeless exists. Can we make the case while looking at the racism and classism evident in the loss of life during Katrina’s calamity?

3. What prevents effective implementation of existing laws on violence against women?

4. What are promising practices at the national level?

May you keep learning and sharing,
Minga Claggett-Borne
Cambridge, MA

Thursday, September 15, 2005

US WILPF Response to Disaster in the Gulf Region

Just want to make our blog readers aware that the official US WILPF statement regarding the ongoing disaster in the Gulf Region is on the US WILPF website.

Personally, I do not think it should be referred to as "Hurricane Katrina" since (a)the vast majority of damage, destruction, and death was caused by government incompetence before and after the hurricane hit and (b)that name demonizes a feminine natural force, since it creates a connotation that "Katrina" is bad and since "Katrina" is a female name, somehow this horrible things is now feminine. Just some personal observations...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

News Quiz

1. "Bush’s initial deer-in-the-headlights paralysis was followed by whining, smirking, weaseling cover-up TV sound bites, massive denials of responsibility, non-specific bashing of 'liberals' and a combination of hubris, arrogance, doctrinaire disregard of fact and bungling mismanagement with no concern for life and no real plan."
This statement applies to:
A. Hurricane Katrina
B. 9/11
C. The war on Iraq
D. All the above
E. None of the above

2. "Massively-funded secret industry lobbying has systematically discredited science and disrupted national and worldwide solutions of critical problems."
This statement applies to:
A. Global warming
B. The human population explosion
C. Tobacco addiction
D. Developing economies
E. Women's rights
F. All the above
G. None of the above

3. "No one could have predicted this event."
This statement applies to:
A. Al Qaeda hijacking passenger jumbo jets to attack prominent US buildings
B. Massive, ruthless, fanatical and popular guerilla resistance to Western invasion of Middle Eastern countries
C. Hurricane Katrina regaining power over the near-record warm Gulf of Mexico
D. Below-sea-level New Orleans "superfund" sites spewing toxic chemicals into floodwaters years after they were to have been cleaned up
E. Huge Federal no-bid cost-plus contracts for Bechtel and Haliburton to fix up New Orleans
F. All of the above
G. None of the above

If anyone in your household has answered "None of the above" to any of the above, you should immediately put Parental Controls on the Fox News channel.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Boston Member Report From UN Meeting on Violence Against Women

The following post was submitted by Pat O'Brien, Boston WILPF member and Development Chair on the national board. She attended the Expert Group Meeting on "Violence against women: Good practices in combating and eliminating violence against women" at the UN. She was inspired to attend this meeting as a means of advancing a strain of WILPF work that began at last summer's Boston Social Forum.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Cambridge, MA I Just returned from New York where I and other WILPF members Pat Willis, Scott Michaelsen and Minga Claggett-Borne participated in the UN Consultation contribute to the UN Secretary-General's study on all forms of violence against women which was requested on 22 December 2003, by the General Assembly of the United Nations (resolution 58/185). Because WILPF is an NGO (non-governmental organization), as WILPF members, we get to have this kind of access at the UN, and also as members of a women’s organization, we wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to participate at the level of the larger picture.

The goals of this UN study are to:
  • Highlight the persistence of all forms of violence against women in all parts of the world, and the unacceptability of such violence.
  • Strengthen political commitment and joint efforts of all stakeholders to prevent and eliminate violence against women.
  • Identify ways and means for better and more sustained and effective implementation of Government commitments and obligations to combat all forms of violence against women, and increase accountability.

So we went to sessions yesterday with women from many NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and UN Offices like International Labor Office and the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights. The day opened with a plenary with panelists who spoke on the themes of Violence against women: links with the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs); and key issues for future action followed by comments and questions from the floor. The panelists highlighted the challenges, as well as opportunities, for linking efforts to combat violence against women with those aimed at achieving the (MDGs). Speakers raised key issues which should be addressed in the Secretary-General’s study, commenting on new and emerging areas that require attention, challenges that prevent the effective implementation of existing standards and laws on violence against women; accountability for action against violence against women; and the responsibility of State and non-State actors. They also talked about areas where further research is necessary to strengthen the effectiveness of policy responses.

Then the participants added examples from their own experience and raised issues they think remain insufficiently addressed in law, policy or at the program level, including resources required for effective work on prevention and service provision.

The panelists: were very impressive and we got to hear some personal experiences (such as testimony from Rwanda Truth and Reconciliation )as well as different perspective of the themes. The afternoon session was divided into 2 working groups where we further discussed the morning’s topics with an eye to organizing information into categories that would be useful for eventually presenting the study to the General Assembly this year.

Minga and I participated in the key issues for future actions working group and we felt that the others in the group were attentive and listened carefully to each other. There was a wide variety of input from diverse sources and the discussion got quite lively at times. For example, a few women stressed the importance of involving the community in the generation of recommendations and data input, while others pointed out the failure of some of the traditional customs like tribal councils consisting of very patriarchial elders. Adjudicating domestic violence situations.

We had contacted the WILPF office 2 weeks ago, and met with Milkah and Samantha from the UN office, who are also working on input for this study. Pat W, Scott and Minga were meeting with them yesterday afternoon after I left to discuss the collaboration on the paper we will submit.

The input for the study will be ongoing until October 15 and is taking several forms. We will submit a paper to be included in the input for the study and there will be some online discussion which will also be included. Minga and I will give a reportback here in our area to generate more interest in both the UN study and in issues of violence against women. I’m hoping both Minga and Pat will contribute to this blog because they have some additional perspectives about this event.

For more information about the study, go to: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Member Reaction to the Disaster

This blog is primarily for information regarding US WILPF activities - ways to get involved, news of our work, and encouragement to join our organization. I believe it is important for WILPF members to raise our voices regarding the man-made disaster in the Gulf Region. Therefore, I am posting this entry from Sha'an Mouliert, coordinator of the Building the Beloved Community Issue Committee of WILPF.

As I watch CBS Sunday Morning, I'm on an emotional rollercoaster. For years, I've been ashamed to be a US citizen. Seeing how in a matter of hours the tsunami victims were attended to...in third world nations, i.e. supplies, contact information, pictures of the missing. Yet, Katrina's survivors are wondering around looking for food, shelter and loved ones five/six days later. The fact that the US is considering accepting aid from Russia, Cuba and Indonesia while they are spending billions of dollars in Iraq is an obscenity. We are blatantly showing the world our priorities...this coming from mainstream media. Is this the compassion George Bush is talking about? I find it revealing that he was willing to go to Iraq, a war zone, and yet felt unsafe to show up in New Orleans. Watching him hug two women of color was more that I could stand...an obvious photo op and evoking memories of him in a flack suit on a ship's deck stating the war is over. To me, he's giving the "terrorist" justification, exposing the US government for what it is...a protector of capitalism and the rich on the backs of disenfranchised people.

And now that Rehnquist has died, one can only speculate what's next for this nation.

As the Buddhist say, "May you live in interesting times". This is certainly an interesting time.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Thoughts on Disaster Relief in the Gulf Coast Region

While I can only speak for myself, I am sure that all of my sisters in WILPF share my sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and my anger at the ridiculously inadequate relief operation.

It appears that today, food and water is finally getting to the refugees at the Convention Center in New Orleans. And today, many hospital patients are being evacuated out of the region. Since the government decided not to drop food and water from the air in the first few days of the crisis, the situation became abysmal on the ground, leading to widespread violence, including rape.

It is frustrating that the poorest residents of New Orleans and the entire affected region were left stranded. Let me be clear - poor, black residents of the region were left without any help. The Bush administration, which is so quick to drop bombs on poor people elsewhere in the world, cut off funds to the Army Corp of Engineers to modernize the levees; cut off funds to FEMA; and refused to immediately activate the U.S. military and administrative agencies to get food and water to the hurricane victims and evacuate them.

I am sure, like me, you are monitoring news websites and television channels for the latest information. In case you did not know, President Castro of Cuba offered to send 1100 medical personnel with medical equipment to the region. His press release, along with some other news of the disaster, is posted on my personal political blog, Chicken Foot Stew.