March 8, 2015
Women Fight for Equality, Peace and Rights!
Resist Militarization, Fascism and War!
On International Working Women’s Day, member organizations of the International Women’s Alliance (IWA) stand together with women all over the world who have been resisting violence in all its forms: imperialist wars of aggression, state violence and political repression, police brutality, and economic and development aggression. We first salute the brave women who have offered their lives fighting for their communities, for their rights. We commemorate the mothers who have lost their children and family due to increased militarization, occupation, war and police brutality. We recognize women and children who are victims of trafficking, displacement, sex tourism, rape and other gendered crimes of war. On this March 8th, 2015, IWA recognizes the brutal conditions under which women live and we celebrate those who are at the forefront of the global resistance against imperialism.
Militarization and its consequences
In the past year, US imperialism has crafted a plan to increase its military presence and economic control in Asia, through the pivot-to-Asia foreign policy. With hurried and secret meetings to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, what could be historically the largest free trade deal in the globe, women and children in many countries are feeling the brunt of this campaign. In Central Asia, the US’ efforts to identify and root out their targets of terrorism, unprecedented occupation and military attacks in countries like Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan have seen women and children become ‘collateral damage’ in the crosshairs of the ‘war on terror’. Armed fundamentalist groups originally created by the CIA in Africa and in the Middle East, are terrorizing entire regions, and being used by the US, Britain and other powerful countries to justify their military presence and fuel anti-Muslim sentiments in their own territories. In Palestine, the US-backed Israeli apartheid regime has and continues to drive Palestinians out of Gaza and the West Bank with heavy bombings and stalled peace talks. In the Philippines, a key base in the pivot-to-Asia policy, the increased US military presence has trampled the country’s sovereignty and led to loss of lives of women and children.
Alongside U.S. actions abroad, the United States is also waging an internal war against Black, Brown and Trans* people and women within its own borders through state violence in line with its white supremacist agenda. In a country where a Black man is killed by police or vigilantes every 28 hours, this war is fueled when racist police are allowed to murder Black, Brown and Trans* women with almost no consequences. The war against women is seen in the fatal shooting of 7-year old Aiyana Jones who was asleep in her own apartment when murdered, and denied justice when her killer, a cop, received no penalties. Black women have continuously been denied justice within the law as seen with the case of Marissa Alexander who spent 3 years in prison for firing a warning shot to scare off her physically abusive husband, and the killing of 17-year old Jessie Hernandez by Denver police just a few months ago. While the state explicitly devalues Black, Brown and Trans* women’s lives, it also implicitly feeds the undercurrent of an anti-women society that perpetuates violence against women. Within two weeks, we saw the three murders of Trans* women Ty Underwood, Michelle Vash Payne and Lamia Beard. This year we cannot also forget the brutal murder of Renisha McBride in Detroit. In response to the continued brutality, #BlackLivesMatter was born and lead by Black women to bring these cases and the many that go under-reported to the forefront.
Women in Poverty
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, hailed as the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights. Held in Beijing in September 1995, the conference was attended by government representatives from 189 countries with a parallel forum held by activists, whose commitment to genuine gender equality and the empowerment of women was at the forefront. The gathering concluded with a comprehensive framework for action that highlighted 12 critical areas of concern that included the political rights, human rights, economic conditions and the health of women.
Twenty years after its creation, women around the world are still facing oppression and continued violence on political, economic and social levels. In the Philippines, women continue to suffer from poverty and lack of social services in urban areas as the government parades its conditional cash transfer program that does little or nothing to improve the lives of women and their families. In Sri Lanka, women agricultural workers and farmers face political repression and state-sponsored violence as foreign corporations and land-grabbing companies are prioritized. Women workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia are given the most minimum of wages which can barely feed their families, working 12 to 14 hours a days to produce high-end products that feed the Western consumerist culture.
Millions of women are still forced to migrate from their home countries in search of jobs and livelihood only to find themselves part of a cheap mobile labor force, preyed on by intermediaries making millions on their backs, Far from being a « tool for development » as international institutions claim, this outflow continues ever stronger generation after generation
While the Beijing platform provides a blueprint for change and the empowerment of women, little progress has been made in two decades as neoliberal policies around the world are put in place for capitalistic gains and profit for the ruling 1%. Time and time again, it is evident that U.S. imperialism has impeded efforts of change and the empowerment of women by encroaching and maintaining puppet regimes in different countries, through its economic policies, political maneuvering and military involvement.
This March 8th, member organization of IWA will focus on the alliance’s central campaign in the coming year, “Women for Equality, Peace and Rights: Resisting Militarization, Fascism and War.” We will organize our communities world-wide and mobilize on International Working Women’s Day to show our dissent and resistance against mounting militarization at the level of cities, nations and globally. Our organizations and their allies shall also highlight that military dominance is one side of imperialist tactics that clear the way for political economic rule by way of neoliberal policies such as the TPPA.
Women’s movements have clearly taken notice of the onslaught in imperialist militarization, plunder and violence. In Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, Mexico and other countries around the world, mainly indigenous women have continued to resist mining aggression by sabotaging corporations’ facilities built on indigenous land, and other means of resistance. Women and their communities in Pakistan fight for food sovereignty, and to wrest control of their own seeds from transnational corporations like Monsanto, DuPont, and Cargill.
Women of color and Trans women in the US have been at the forefront of the struggle to affirm that Black lives matter and continue to build coalitions across communities that experience violence. Filipino women staged a successful Rise for Revolution action in line with the global One Billion Rising campaign calling for the ouster of the Philippine president Noynoy Aquino where thousands of women, men and children danced to call for change in the country. Women in Venezuela continue to resist heightened efforts by the United States and local elites to undermine democracy and instigate violence in the country. They continue to call for solidarity from around the world to resist this overt aggression and protect their sovereignty.
In Europe, Canada and other countries, women are rising to oppose austerity measures by ruling governments that are slashing public funding for social services, which have taken decades of struggle to build. They are mobilizing against thousands of jobs being cut in the public sector, where women make up the majority of workers. In Canada, as Indigenous communities mark the 25th anniversary of the armed uprising known as the Oka crisis, women are leading a country-wide movement for Justice for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, who number in the hundreds and whose disappearance is ignored by the authorities.
In Greece, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere, women are part of the massive people’s movements in the streets shaking up the traditional parties and governments to oppose skyrocketing unemployment and destitution prescribed by international agencies as remedies for the capitalist crisis.
In Kobane, courageous Kurdish women have taken up arms, becoming fierce fighters to resist the onslaught from ISIS and to protect their land and people. They are also resisting imperialist-backed aggression, as are women freedom fighters in India, Palestine, and the Philippines.
These examples are a few in the thousands of movements of women across the globe and on March 8th, we stand in solidarity with all who call for an end to militarization, fascism and war!
We want nothing less than Equality, Peace and Rights!