Tags: Ann Wright, codepink, gaza, gaza blockade, gaza bombing, gaza child casualties, gaza tunnels, gaza women, gaza women casualties, international womens day, israeli military attack gaza, iwd, roger hollander, unwra, white phosphorus
Would women in Gaza really celebrate International Women’s Day?” was the question members of our 58 person delegation from United States, Canada, Pakistan, France, Australia, Egypt, Dubai and Turkey asked as we travelled from Cairo to the Gaza border.
In less than three weeks, the delegates had responded to an appeal by Codepink: Women for Peace to join an international delegation to try to go into Gaza at the invitation of the United Nations Works and Relief Agency of Gaza (UNWRA).
Women of Gaza have so little to celebrate.
Women of Gaza were subjected to the 22 day Israeli military attack on Gaza that killed over 1400, including 192 women and over 400 children, and wounded more than 5,000 Palestinians. Women of Gaza waving white flags were killed by Israeli snipers. Women of Gaza standing at kitchen windows were blown apart by Israeli bombs made in the United States. Women of Gaza died in the streets when Israeli soldiers refused to allow emergency medical personnel to help them to hospitals. Women of Gaza watched the bodies of their children melt from white phosphorus wounds. Women of Gaza held their dying children in their arms. Women of Gaza found the bodies of the husbands and children in the rubble of their homes. Women of Gaza now wait for their wounded children to return from hospitals in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Women of Gaza live in tents because their homes were destroyed in the bombings. Women of Gaza hold children who have nightmares about the bombings they have endured. Women of Gaza wake up from their nightmares about their lives in Gaza.
Women of Gaza have endured 18 months of the blockade of Gaza. Because of the blockade, women of Gaza are prevented from leaving Gaza. Because of the blockade, women of Gaza feed their families from food smuggled through tunnels. Because of the blockade, women of Gaza wait for glass to repair the windows in their homes. Because of the blockade, women of Gaza live with minimum electricity in the home because damaged power plants cannot be repaired. Because of the blockade, women of Gaza cook cannot get cooking gas and cook with wood. Because of the blockade, communication with the rest of the world is difficult.
Our delegation on March 8, International Women’s Day, while visiting with over 1000 women in 13 different community development centers throughout Gaza, found that women of Gaza do celebrate.
The women of Gaza celebrate – their determination to survive.
But the women of Gaza wonder why women of the world are silent about the Israeli military attacks on them and the 18 month blockade of their country.
And that is why we were there– in Gaza, on International Women’s Day, to stand in solidarity with the women of Gaza.
We Will Not Be Silent!
Muslim Women “Warriors” March 8, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Religion, Women.
Tags: Abdullah Saeed, Barbara harris, buddhist women, episcopal women, Fatima Mernissi, frances kissling, hadiths, honor killings, international womens day, islamic feminist scholars, islamic scholarship, islamic values, iwd, musawah, muslim family law, muslim feminism, muslim feminists, muslim women, muslim women's groups, Norani Othman, qur'an, Riffat Hassan, roger hollander, roman catholic women, sharia, sisters in islam, women's inequality, women's liberation, women's oppression, zainah anwar
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International Women’s Day (March 8) is a good time to reflect on the efforts of women of faith to reform or repeal texts and practices within their religions that contribute to women’s inequality or oppression.
For those of us in the United States and Europe, of Christian and Jewish traditions, the effort has focused on reinterpreting texts, working for the inclusion of women in ministry, for non-sexist language, and for the elimination of violence against women. The effort has not been easy; Christian and Jewish women still have a long way to go and we’ve experienced a fair amount of derision and even lost jobs, but none of us has actually risked our lives or ended up in jail as a result of this work.
Some of the most prophetic among us have found some acceptance. The Philadelphia Eleven, Episcopal women who were “irregularly” ordained in 1974, ushered in regular ordination by 1976 and the consecration of the first woman bishop, Barbara Harris, in 1989. Roman Catholic women began ordaining themselves in 2004 after an initial irregular ordination by a male bishop in 2002.
While these women (who number about 50 priests and five bishops) have been excommunicated, they are living proof that the institutional church has only the power we give it. They go about the business of ministry and service with skill and good grace.
Increasingly, Buddhist women have been seeking full ordination within the various branches of Buddhism. In Korea, Taiwan, and China, Buddhist nuns have been fully ordained for centuries, in an unbroken lineage back to the Buddha. In other countries and branches of Buddhism, the practice of fully ordaining women has not survived. Buddhist women have organized for ordination, and these are increasing. Thai Theravada Buddhism, which is linked to the state, has been most resistant to these ordinations, and Tibetan Buddhism under the Dalai Lama has been considering reviving the tradition, but as of today, no final decision has been made.
Muslim women—and feminists—are following a different and complicated path. This was brought home last month when I participated in a five day international conference in Malaysia which brought together 250 women from 47 countries, many of them predominantly Muslim with strong links between religion and state. The conference launched the Musawah Movement, a loose network of Muslim women’s groups working to ensure that Muslim family law recognizes and operationalizes the equality of women within the family. Muslim feminists are as diverse as other feminists which was reflected throughout the conference; Muslim feminism is not new. This conference, for example, was the result of 20 years of research and advocacy by a Malaysian group called Sisters in Islam (SIS). Zainah Anwar, the coordinator of Musawah (equality in Arabic) said:
Musawah is in some ways a vindication of a long and difficult struggle to find liberation within my faith and to translate into action my utter belief in a just God. This is the last frontier in the feminist movement to break the theological stranglehold of the patriarchs that prevents Muslim women from enjoying equal rights.
For Sisters in Islam finding liberation in their faith has involved a two-prong strategy: theological education and political advocacy. SIS takes religion seriously. In its early years, SIS reached out to Islamic scholars, studied the Qur’an and came to adopt a modernist methodology of interpreting the Qur’an and the Hadiths. Those of us with less knowledge of Islamic scholarship are unaware of the fact that since the mid-19th century (and before), Islamic scholars have offered modernist methodologies of interpreting Islamic texts that have been developed independently but share some characteristics of modern biblical interpretation.
Abdullah Saeed, the Sultan of Oman Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at Melbourne University and a conference speaker, offered a methodological framework for interpretation that included understanding the Qur’an as a text influenced by the history of the time in which it was written and requiring analysis of how it was and is received as an element of legitimacy. He notes that progressive scholars and classic modernists in Islam emphasize “core Islamic values of justice, goodness and beauty” and engaging both Islamic tradition and modernity on the issues of human rights, social justice, gender justice, and pluralism.” It is this tradition that Sisters in Islam and Islamic feminist scholars including Norani Othman, Fatima Mernissi, and Riffat Hassan have engaged.
Not all at the conference (nor in the broader Muslim feminist community) are in sync with a theological approach to Muslim feminist advocacy. There was loud grumbling on the second day of the conference from feminists who want nothing to do with religion. For them, the task of Muslim feminism is to secure pluralism and democratic legislation in Muslim countries, based solely on human rights theory and treaty obligations.
Zainah Anwar weighed in on this approach in an opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune:
The decision of so many activists to ignore religion has had undesirable consequences. It has left the field wide open for the most conservative forces within Islam to define, dominate and set parameters of what Islam is and is not.
Anwar makes sense. In many Muslim-majority countries civil family law is based on Shariah. To try to change those laws without addressing its underlying religiosity and offering a respectful but different understanding of the Qur’an is unlikely to succeed. Moreover, in some countries where Shariah is not accepted as civil law, Shariah courts exist within the Muslim community and Muslim women are urged by their families to take issues of family law to these courts rather than civil courts. There have also been efforts by Muslim conservatives in the UK and Canada to pass legislation that would make Shariah courts the legal arbiters of family law for Muslims. These moves have been opposed by Muslim women and human rights advocates although some mainstream political leaders have naively assumed that recognition of such religious courts was an act of respect for cultural diversity.
Shariah is already interpreted differently from country to country, used and abused to justify practices that limit women’s human rights. Women are stoned to death and imprisoned for adultery, and even for reporting rape. Custody laws, which automatically award children to husbands, keep women in abusive marriages. In some countries, women can be divorced without their consent and with no provision for support. So-called honor killings go unpunished; girls’ education is limited or forbidden; women are beaten with impunity by husbands, fathers and sons.
One moderator of a “talk show”-format session, in which women leaders described their personal efforts to change conditions for women, called them “warriors.” In some quarters of feminism and religion, such a word would raise hackles. We are a “kind and gentle people.” But in other circles we combine a fierce sense of bravery and rage, a willingness to do battle for women with the instruments of reason, scholarship, and compassion in pursuing justice and equality. Let us celebrate all the strategies women use to survive and thrive.
International Women’s Day Celebrates Peace Today March 8, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Peace, Women.
Tags: code pink, dorothy day, french revolution, international womens day, iwd, lysistrata, marlena rich, peace, roger hollander, United Nations, white house vigil, william blake, women's suffrage
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www.examiner.com, March 8, 2009
Today is International Women’s Day, marked by women’s groups around the globe and commemorated at the United Nations as a national holiday. Women on all continents, divided by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate women’s equality and the peace the feminine embodies. Representing at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development, it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men.
International Women’s Day honors the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the ancient struggle of women to participate in society on an equal par with men. In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war; during the French Revolution, Parisian women marched on Versailles to demand women’s suffrage; in the US Dorothy Day was among the leaders of women’s suffrage who also worked to provide food and shelter for the homeless.
The United Nations has promoted few causes generating more intense and widespread support than the campaign to support and protect equal rights of women. The Charter of the United Nations, signed in San Francisco in 1945, was the first international agreement to declare gender equality as a fundamental human right. The UN has helped create a legacy of internationally accepted strategies, standards, programs and goals to advance the status of women worldwide.
The United Nations action for the advancement of women has taken four clear directions: promotion of legal measures; mobilization of public opinion and international action; direct assistance to disadvantaged groups; training and research. The UN is responsible for fostering the principle that no enduring solution to society’s most threatening economic, social, and political problems can be found without the full participation and full empowerment of the women of the world.
Today we have Code Pink, formed in the US on November, 2002 with a 4 month all day vigil in front of the White house, inspiring people from all walks of life and from all over the country to stand for peace. This vigil culminated on March 8, International Women’s Day, joining global peacemakers who share the mission of saying No to War.
IWD 2009: Gallery of Honor March 8, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Women.
Tags: anne hollander, aung san suu kyi, barbara lee, betty friedan, carmen vascones, cathy crowe, Cindy Sheehan, fannie lou hamer, feminism, international womans day, iwd, louise michel, miriam makeba, revolutionary women, rigoberta menchu, roger hollander, rosa luxemburg, soujourner truth, women, women leaders, women's history
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Betty Friedan: Modern Day Pioneer
Aung San Suu Kyi: Burmese Resistance Leader
Cathy Crowe: Canadian Anti-poverty Activist
Fannie Lou Hamer: Civil Rights Leader
Anne Korabiak Hollander: Humanitarian (my mother)
Barbara Lee: Only Vote in House of Representatives Against Iraq Invasion
Rosa Luxemburg: Revolutionary Philosopher, Activist and Martyr
Rigoberta Menchu: Guatemalan Community Organizer
Miriam Makeba: Mama Africa
Louise Michel: Paris Commune Revolutionary Leader
Cindy Sheehan: Mother, Tireless Peace Activist
Soujourner Truth: Ain”t I a Woman
Carmen Váscones: Ecuadorian Poet (and Inspiration)
Obama’s Coalition of the Unwilling March 4, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
Tags: Afghanistan, afghanistan iwd, afghanistan occupation, afghanistan troop surge, Afghanistan War, afghnaistan peace, amy goodman, Barack Obama, civilian casualties, coalition of the unwilling, coaliton, Democracy Now, denis moynihan, foreign affairs, foreign policy, gloria steinem, Gordon Brown, iwd, joe stiglitz, kandahar, Middle East, NATO, nato troops, pakistan, pakistan missiles, Robert Gates, roger hollander, Stephen Harper, Taliban, terrorism, war
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Posted on Mar 3, 2009, http://www.truthdig.com
By Amy Goodman
President Barack Obama met recently with the prime ministers of Canada and Britain. This week’s meeting with Britain’s Gordon Brown, who was pitching a “global New Deal,” created a minor flap when the White House downsized a full news conference to an Oval Office question-and-answer session, viewed by some in Britain as a snub. The change was attributed to the weather, with the Rose Garden covered with snow.
It might have actually related not to snow cover, but to a snow job, covering up the growing divide between Afghanistan policies.
U.S. policy in Afghanistan includes a troop surge, already under way, and continued bombing in Pakistan using unmanned drones. Escalating civilian deaths are a certainty. The United Nations estimates that more than 2,100 civilians died in 2008, a 40 percent jump over 2007.
The occupation of Afghanistan is in its eighth year, and public support in many NATO countries is eroding. Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, told me: “The move into Afghanistan is going to be very expensive. … Our European NATO partners are getting disillusioned with the war. I talked to a lot of the people in Europe, and they really feel this is a quagmire.”
Forty-one nations contribute to NATO’s 56,000-troop presence in Afghanistan. More than half of the troops are from the U.S. The United Kingdom has 8,300 troops, Canada just under 3,000. Maintaining troops is costly, but the human toll is greater. Canada, with 108 deaths, has suffered the highest per capita death rate for foreign armies in Afghanistan, since its forces are based in the south around Kandahar, where the Taliban is strong.
Last Sunday on CNN, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “We’re not going to win this war just by staying … we are not going to ever defeat the insurgency.” U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine: “The United States cannot kill or capture its way to victory.” Yet it’s Canada that has set a deadline for troop withdrawal at the end of 2011. The U.S. is talking escalation.
Anand Gopal, Afghanistan correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, described the situation on the ground: “A lot of Afghans that I speak to in these southern areas where the fighting has been happening say that to bring more troops, that’s going to mean more civilian casualties. It’ll mean more of these night raids, which have been deeply unpopular amongst Afghans. … Whenever American soldiers go into a village and then leave, the Taliban comes and attacks the village.” Afghan Parliamentarian Shukria Barakzai, a woman, told Gopal: “Send us 30,000 scholars instead. Or 30,000 engineers. But don’t send more troops—it will just bring more violence.”
Women in Afghanistan play a key role in winning the peace. A photographer wrote me: “There will be various celebrations across Afghanistan to honor International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8. In Kandahar there will be an event with hundreds of women gathering to pray for peace, which is especially poignant in a part of Afghanistan that is so volatile.” After returning from an international women’s gathering in Moscow, feminist writer Gloria Steinem noted that the discussion centered around getting the media to hire peace correspondents to balance the war correspondents. Voices of civil society would be amplified, giving emphasis to those who wage peace. In the U.S. media, there is an equating of fighting the war with fighting terrorism. Yet on the ground, civilian casualties lead to tremendous hostility. Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, recently told me: “I’ve been saddened and shocked by virulent anti-American responses to those wars [in Iraq and Afghanistan]. They’re seen as occupations. … I think it’s very important we learn from mistakes of sounding war drums.” She added, “There’s such a connection from the Middle East to Afghanistan to Pakistan which builds on strengths of working with neighbors.”
Barack Obama was swept through the primaries and into the presidency on the basis of his anti-war message. Prime ministers like Brown and Harper are bending to growing public demand for an end to war. Yet in the U.S., there is scant debate about sending more troops to Afghanistan, and about the spillover of the war into Pakistan.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.
© 2009 Amy Goodman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate