01 June 2019
On a beautiful sunny Saturday, regular and prospective members of the International Women’s Alliance (IWA) in Europe, namely Ceni or the Kurdish women’s office for peace, Women’s Political Council (WPC), German – Filipino Friendship Association (GFFA), Pinay sa Holland – Gabriela and Women for Filipino Women and Children (WOW), met to formally convene together, update each other on various activities and campaigns, and exchange ideas on cooperation, expansion and visibility of IWA in Europe.
After the group’s welcome and a round of introduction, a lively and meaningful discussion took place in between the presentation on IWA – it’s brief history, orientation, Constitution and the Manila Declaration of Unity. Likewise, during the brainstorming session for campaigns, the group had come up with pressing issues concerning women refugees and migration, the double oppression of women and patriarchal system, and violence against women in times of wars as well as economic and environment issues affecting women in Europe, the erosion of women’s achieved rights and welfare in the past through the women’s and people’s movement, and the importance of raising women’s consciousness to participate economically, politically and culturally in society. The group, however, did not decide yet which of these issues to take on as a campaign together. Instead, everyone was encouraged to bring these issues to a deeper discussion with their respective organizations and convene again for another time.
The group also spoke critically of state and government officials who posture themselves as defenders of women’s rights whereas their actions prove otherwise. For instance, the group used as an example the likes of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who because of a resolution on sexual violence in armed conflict that he forwarded before the United Nations Security Council, is now being deemed as the defender of women’s rights, whereas he is responsible for selling arms to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and elsewhere.
The group voiced in unison that women’s struggles are theirs to claim and that they are the ones who should have a voice and thus the ones who should be speaking for themselves.
The meeting was successfully concluded with concrete plans to meet in the coming months with other organizations interested to join the alliance, to have a close communication and coordination, and to attend each organization’s scheduled activities this year and in 2020. ###