A struggle’s centennial
International Women’s Day turns 100, with lots left to achieveby MATT JONES
Women’s groups in Quebec get ready for action this Monday, March 8, as International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates its centennial anniversary with a plethora of activities. In addition to the annual IWD demo, Sunday, March 7 will see the launch of the demands of the 2010 World March of Women Against Poverty and Violence Against Women. The pentennial event was launched in 2000 by the Fédération des Femmes du Québec (FFQ) and taken up by 6,000 groups in 161 countries. The second march took place in 2005 and this year’s will kick off 110 events planned to mark the occasion across Quebec. It’s not only a demonstration, but a series of demands that seek to remove obstacles to women’s equality.
“We use it as a platform to try and make some gains for women’s rights or women’s vision of how society ought to be. It’s not always directly related to women per se – it could include the environment for example,” says Alexa Conradi, President of the Féderation des Femmes du Québec (FFQ). “It’s important because it gives us an opportunity in the women’s movement to look back at where we’ve come from, see where we’re heading and underline some of the gains we’ve made,” she adds.
This year’s demands won’t be public until March 7, but Conradi says they will touch on questions of access to public services, sexist advertizing and the commercialization of women’s bodies, abortion rights, violence against women, militarism, poverty and indigenous women’s rights.
“This year in Quebec the women’s movement is extremely concerned by the rise of the Right, whether it’s a conservative and moral type of Right or whether it’s an economic Right,” says Conradi. “Women are extremely scandalized by the destruction of so many of the elements that have allowed us to attain a certain degree of equality.”
Here’s a round-up of some of the events planned:
On Saturday March 6, Solidarity Across Borders and Afrique au Féminin are hosting a community dinner and discussion of women and immigration. “Our Heroines: Women and Migration” begins at 5 p.m. at the Park Extension Community Centre (419 St-Roch) and features the testimonies of women who have survived difficult experiences in the immigration system. Details at solidarityacrossborders.org.
Amnesty International is holding a postcard-writing marathon on March 6 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Participants will write words of encouragement for women around the world who need international support, especially Nathalie Morin, the Quebec journalist held against her will by her husband in Saudi Arabia. That’s happening at the Maison de la culture Frontenac (2550 Ontario E.), followed by a concert at the Lion d’or (1676 Ontario E.). Details at amnistie.ca.
The launch of the World March of Women campaign takes place March 7 at 1 p.m. at Phillips Square (Ste-Catherine & Union).
This year’s IWD demo starts at noon on March 8 outside Complexe Desjardins (150 Ste-Catherine W.). There will be a three-minute “surprise action” that will ask people to imagine the prospect of a Montreal with no women. Info at ffq.qc.ca.
Meanwhile, Women of Diverse Origins will be holding its own evening demo calling for a more radical women’s movement, starting at Cabot Square (Atwater & Ste-Catherine) at 5:30 p.m. That follows a full-day conference on women’s issues called “Back to the Basics” which takes place on March 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Centre de Ressources et d'Action Communautaire de la Petite Patrie (6839 Drolet). More info at: wdofdo.wordpress.com.
A full calendar of Women’s Day events across the province is available at: ffq.qc.ca.
Montreal Mirror 4 March 2010