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Sunday, August 12, 2012

The history of the Anarcha-Feminist International & the Anarcha-Feminist Manifesto (2002)


Press release from I@F:
Dear Fellows
The history of the Anarcha-Feminist International, the Anarcha-Feminist Manifesto and the 20 years anniversary 1982-2002: 

The history of the Anarcha-Feminist International is connected to the foundation of the Northern sections of IFA in 1982. The conclusion of the documents recorded in Bulletin C.R.I.F.A no 39 avril-mai and no 42 novembre-février 1982, is that the Anarchist Federation of Norway - Anarkistføderasjonen i Norge (AFIN) - Anarkistenes organisasjon (i Norge) ANORG, was affiliated to IFA/IAF from 15.01 1979 with the organ "Folkebladet", and that the Northern Section(s) of IFA was/were founded and affiliated to IFA/IAF 15-17.10.1982, with the bulletin "IFA-Solidaritet", IAF-Solidarity, published in close connection to Folkebladet. The Northern section(s)' affiliation to IFA, was/were also confirmed on later IFA-congresses arranged in Oslo, and documented in issues of Bulletin C.R.I.F.A and IFA-Solidaritet, the two officially and mandated organs of IFA at that time. Furthermore, there were no opposition to these decisions recorded in the Bulletin C.R.I.F.A and IFA-Solidaritet, so they were decided by general concent. Some of the new Northern sections of IFA, i.e. the Danish, the Swedish and the Finnish, were in one years time refounded as IFA-federations, i.e. in 1983. This was unanimously decided upon by a general ballot, referendum, among the members of the Northern sections.This is recorded in IFA-Solidaritet, which was distributed to the other IFA/IAF-sections, among other things, via the C.R.I.F.A. The documents also implies that the IFA-secretariate in Oslo was not considered as a sub-secretariate to C.R.I.F.A, but on equal footing, i.e. as commissions for the Northern and Southern sections respectively. 

Furthermore the ANORG's programs and federations/sections of anarcha-feminism, green/eco-anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, the affiliations to the Community Action Network, CAN, and the Anarchist Black Cross, ABC, from the 1970s, and the federations for collectivist and communist/commune anarchism; social-, social-individualist and federalist anarchism, as well as individualist and mutualist anarchism, were made valid for the North in general, as the Northern sections of IFA/IAF adopted the programs of ANORG, and the IFA-IAF secretariate in the North was established. As mentioned, the Northern IFA-secretariate was considered autonomous and on equal footing with the one in the South, but in solidarity some money was paid to the South from the North, say, as documented in the Bulletin C.R.I.F.A No 47 mars-avril 1984, p.2, where it is reported on the accounting for money received: "30/9/83 Secrétariate nordique IFA, Oslo (Norvege) 21 321." It sounds like a lot of money, but it was not NOK or US$, but Italian Lira, so it was not so much. However the anarchists in the North in general are not among the plutarchs, so the NAC has not too much money for own activities either. Later the international section/federation of anarcha-feminism and others were made valid for the whole world, via International Anarchist Congresses, not only the Nordic countries. The founding year of the Anarcha-Feminist International is 1982. The IAF-AFI is a section of the Anarchist International, AI/IFA/IAF. 

The anarcha feminist-program and federation/section were already established at the 3rd ANORG congress 1-7.06.1982. The 12 pages program called "Anarko feminismen", and the section/federation "Anarkofeministene", are documented in Folkebladet no 1-1982. The section of anarcha-feminists was started in 1977 as "Kjønnslig gruppe" in AFIN-ANORG, later the name was changed to "Anarkofeministene", a.o.t. they published an anarcha-feminist leaflet in 1977 and later material in Folkebladet, no 3-1980 (front page) and an article "Anarkofeminismen" and another featuring Lousie Michel in no 1-1981, also with a picture of an anarcha-feminist on the rear cover. The program from 1982 was summarizing the research front on anarcha-feminism in a consistent way, rejecting outdated hypothesis, and bringing in some new. It was based on the following earlier works: Carol Ehrlich: Socialism, Anarchism and Feminism, Black Bear, London. Lynne Farrow: Feminism and Anarchism, Black Bear London. Jo Freeman: Tyranny of the Structurelessness, AWA (Anarchist Workers Association), Humberside. Peggy Kornegger: Anarchism: The Feminist Connection, Black Bear, London. Kytha Kurin: Anarcha-Feminism - Why the Hyphen?, Open Road no 11, Summer 1980. Emma Goldman: Kjærlighet eller ekteskap? Anarkistisk lesebok, PAX 1970. Louise Michel: Kvinnens doble kamp, Folkebladet 1-1981 and Folkebladet 1-1981: Anarko-feminismen, plus the Anarchist Manifesto of ANORG, and other feministic and anarchistic works. 

The summary of this 12 pages program called " Det Anarkofeministiske Manifest" was published in Folkebladet no 1-1983/IFA-Solidaritet no 2-1983, and later in Bulletin C.R.I.F.A. No 44 mars-avril 1983 p. 12. in French. An English translation was also available. It was discussed and adopted with general consent by the Anarchist International and the anarcha-feminists of IFA in general. In 1984 the Anarcha-Feminist Manifesto was presented at the International Anarchist Gathering/Conference in Venice, discussed and thus more widely accepted, as several thousand participated there. Later it was quoted a bit and discussed in the Noam Chomsky et. al.'s journal, "Our Generation" 1 (17), Fall/Winter 1985-86, by Marsha Hewitt in an article about "Emma Goldman: The Case for Anarcho-feminism". This is also printed in "The Anarchist Papers", Black Rose Books (USA and Canada) 1986, edited by Dimitrios Roussopoulos, a book declaring it "brings together several well known anarchists and libertarian socialists in an invaluable resource...". A new edition of this book is also available.

The "Manifeste Anarchoféministe" was also published in a larger socialist paper in France, and thus the anarcha-feminists of NAC-ANORG became quite well known in this country also outside the libertarian network. Later a group, at that time located in Germany, translated it to Iranian language, and probably distributed it in Iran as well as to Iranians in Germany. We guess it is still very much needed in Iran, but it is perhaps indexed. Anyway no Fatvah is sent to the Anarcha-Feminist International so far. Later on the "Manifeste Anarchoféministe" was spread more or less world wide, presented and discussed at different meetings, conferences and collections on feminism, anarchism and anarcha-feminism, used as a framework for actions, and by now it is also presented at several web-pages on the Internet. The manifesto has also influenced other political groups' programs and actions. It is still equally valid, not a single hypothesis of the anarcha-feminist program is rejected by sound arguments so far. 08.03.2002 the Anarchafeminist International celebrated the 20 years anniversary of their manifesto, and the foundation of the i@f in 1982. The Anarcha-Feminist International AFI - L'Internationale Anarchoféministe - IAF is today a global network-organizations with a.o.t. more than thousand networkmembers/subscribers, groups and individuals, and with several thousand persons loosely associated to the network. AFI-IAF will thus be a main force in the fight for women's rights, and feminist anarchism, in the coming years!

Prague: There will be a concert and happening in the centre of Prague, anarchist materials will be spread among people. It is second year that is Global Women Strike taking place in Prague. Petr Z., CSAF-Praha
Sweden: 10 000 människor deltog i Astrid Lindgrens begravning i Gamla Stan i Stockholm i dag. Hälsning AFIS (The Anarchist Federation of Sweden)
NAC - The Northern Anarchist Confederation: The Anarchist Federations of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland and sections in other countries in the North, wish the Anarcha-Feminist International well with the 20th anniversary celebration.
AI-IFA-IAF: The Anarchist International world wide wishes the Anarcha-Feminist International well with the 20th anniversary celebration.
South America: 07-8.03. Repassando, talvez pareça meio tarde mas há uma brecha. Queridos Companheiros - meninas e meninos, mulheres e homens. i@f L'Internationale Anarchoféministe - IAF The Anarcha-Feminist International -  AFI

Amanhã AIIS lançará  uma imprensa da Internacional Anarcha-Feminista AFI-IAF, veja  porque é 8. de março, e depois de 20 anos que o Manifesto de Anarcha-feminista foi decidido em (1982) e se tornou uma parte do programa feminista das seções Do norte de IFA e mais tarde do Anarquismo Internacional em geral, e deste modo a Internacional Anarcha-Feminista foi fundado em 1982. ...O lançamento, etc., do que chegue mais tarde seria publicado junto com outro material em um especial anarcha-feminista de IJ@. 

Saudações Anarquistas, feministas e anarcha-feministas de Anna Quist Co-escritor do Manifesto de Anarcha-feminista em 1982, apresentando isto a.m.o.t. no Gathering/Conference Internacional Anarquista em Veneza 1984, e mais tarde em eventos e mídia anarquistas internacionais diferentes See http://www.anarchy.no/maf.html . Tradução "Coletivo Capa Negra" Brazil (Forwarded in South America, etc.)

English version of message 07.03: Tomorrow AIIS will send out a press release from The Anarcha-Feminist International AFI-IAF, see http://www.anarchy.no/iaf.html because it is 8. of March, and 20 years since the Anarcha-Feminist Manifesto was decided upon (1982) and became a part of the feminist program of the Northern sections of IFA and  later the Anarchist International in general, and thus the Anarcha-Feminist International was founded in 1982... The release, etc., will later be published together with other material in a special anarcha-feminist issue of IJ@... 

Ireland 07-8-03.2002: Pro-choice campaigners celebrated throughout Ireland as a referendum which would have further restricted the availability of abortion in Ireland was defeated. The combined force of the government and catholic church campaigned heavily in favour of the referendum A letter from the Catholic bishops was read at every Mass in the State over the weekend pushing for a Yes vote. It is not possible to obtain an abortion in Ireland. There are no laws that provide for it and no hospital will carry one out. However in 1991, in what became known as the x-case judgement, a court ruling stated that abortion was allowable where there was a threat to the life of the mother, including the threat of suicide. Instead of introducing legislation to allow this to happen all the political parties prevaricated. Each of the major political parties (Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, Progressive Democrats) have been in power since the X-case judgement and all have failed to implement legislation. In 1992, the ruling party, Fianna Fail introduced a referendum which should exclude abortion in the threat of suicide. This was almost identical to the referendum that was held yesterday, and like yesterdays' was defeated.

The vote was extremely close, just over 10,500 votes separated the two sides, 50.42 per cent voted No, while 49.58 per cent voting Yes. Total turnout was 42.89 per cent which was higher than the 35 per cent who turned out for the Nice Treaty vote last year
, but a lot lower then than the 66 per cent who turned out for the General Election in 1997. A strong urban and rural divide was evident, with the urban areas strongly rejecting the proposals. Analysis of the result is complicated by the confusion that surrounded the referendum. The ?pro-life? movement split. The more conservative elements of an already conservative block opposed the referendum as it defined life as starting from implantation rather than from conception. However a comparison of the voting patterns of this referendum with that of earlier ones (on abortion and on divorce) show that these elements had very, very little support.

This is demonstrated in ma
ny ways. For instance we would have expected the "pro-life" No vote to be highest in Donegal where the right wing Connaught- Ulster MEP, Dana Rosemary Scallon lives. She was elected on a "pro-life" platform and was the only prominent "pro-life" personality calling for a No vote. Yet the two Donegal constituencies returned the highest Yes votes in the whole country, 70.59% and 66.82% respectively. Donegal is traditionally one of the most anti-choice areas of the country, reflected in its large No votes in the referendums on divorce , right to information and right to travel over the last decade. In fact across the country it was observed that the Yes vote in this referendum was very, very close to the No vote for the same constituencies in the Divorce referendum of 1995. This traditionally liberal voting constituency of Dun Laoghaire had the biggest No vote, of 68 per cent, again confirming this trend. 

The campaign leading up to this referendum saw a pro-choice movement that was much stronger and visible than had been in previous years. In June, amid much controversy, a boat offering to provide abortions to Irish women sailed in Dublin and Cork ports. Though legal complications meant that the Woman and Waves could not provide abortions as was intended, it did provide an opportunity for pro-choice arguments to heard in the mainstream. Even more importantly, behind the scenes, it provided an organising focus for activists. When a few months later, the abortion referendum was called, much of the networks needed to build an anti- referendum campaign had already been set up and for once the campaign started with money in the bank.

The main umbrella group coordinating the pro-choice opposition was called the Alliance for a No Vote. This was a broad coalition of socialist/anarchist and womens groups, family planning organisations, doctors and health care professionals. Though this was a wide coalition, the arguments presented by the ANV the campaign was much more strongly pro-choice than in previous referendums. After the results ANV spokesperson Cathleen O'Neill said: "The people have given their verdict on the government proposal, and it is a clear mandate to legislate for the X case. Politicians, of whatever party, now have no excuse to avoid the issue. 

They have to bring in laws to vindicate the right to an abortion for suicidal women. "We also need to move on and address the wider questions. Rape and suicide victims should be allowed the choice of terminating their pregnancies, as should women, such as Deirdre de Barra, carrying foetuses that cannot survive. Now that the government?s referendum has been rejected, the whole issue of abortion in Ireland has to be addressed properly." A much wider level of door to door leafleting was achieved than in previous campaigns. Over 150,000 leaflets were distributed, mostly in Dublin and Cork. In Dublin Central, which includes the Bertie Aherns constituency, almost 58% voted against the referendum. In fact every single Dublin constituency voted No. Irish anarchists worked in the Alliance for a No Vote as we have worked in all the pro-choice campaigns of the past decades. We helped to organise demonstrations and meetings, put up posters, create web pages and give out tens of thousands of leaflets for the campaign. 

However we must not forget that it is still not possible to get an abortion in Ireland. Bertie Ahern has already indicated that he does not intend to introduce legislation, the other parties with the exception of Labour, are similarly refusing to commit. While Labour are making positive noises, they have done so before when in opposition and reneged on promises when in power. And we must not forget, that even if there were legislation, it would not affect the majority of women who currently travel for abortion to England. The legislation being talked about would almost certainly require women to go through complex procedures to "prove" they were suicidal. Once more it will be Doctors and other supposed "experts" that will make the final decision rather then the women herself. During the Women on Waves visit it was demonstrated that there are large numbers of working class women who have great difficulty raising the money to travel to Britain for an abortion. A "right to choose" for these women will only be meaningful when abortion is available in Ireland as part of the health service.

Abortion is a taboo subject in Ireland. Most Irish people would like the issue to go away. They do not want more referendums, they do not want to listen to arguments about abortions and they do not want to have to make decisions about abortion. It's ironic, because until a sizeable proportion of the Irish population are willing to demand change we will are more than likely going to be doomed to decades of prevarication?s and stupid referendums. Nothing will change for women who are not judged suicidal unless there is a real movement demanding the provision of abortion facilities for any woman who wants one in Irish hospitals. Irish Anarchists will continue to be at the forefront in building this movement. Anarchism and the fight for Abortion rights - includes a history of previous events Alliance for a No Vote Women on Waves (Ireland) X case march in Dublin - 10 years on. The Anarcha-feminist International strongly supports the Irish womens' right to self-determined abortion, according to the Anarcha-
Feminist Manifesto. 

Events have been taking place in Somalia to mark International Women's Day including a big rally in the capital, Mogadishu. Thousands of women and children turned out for a gathering in the city which was addressed by the interim President, Abdulkassim Salad Hassan. It was attended by other members of the transitional government. Mr Abdulkassim hailed women's groups for their efforts to bring peace to the country. Similar celebrations took place in Marka, Jowhar and Kismayo. 

The papers reflect on International Women's Day and assess the impact of Ireland's abortion referendum. In Germany, the point is made that this week's deaths of German servicemen were not in vain. While Russian papers celebrate International Women's Day by not appearing - it is a popular public holiday - the Swiss La Tribune De Geneve says the very notion of such a day "makes some people cringe". But at least the low level of public interest "shows that women are not an endangered species". On a more serious note, the paper points out that "two years into the third millennium, women remain society's poor relations". "Worst of all," it stresses, "is violence against women." Last year Amnesty International reported that "one in five women around the world is subjected to violence". Brussels' La Libre Belgique calls it "mission impossible" to take sides in the debate on the relevance of the day. But it finally comes out in favour, "even if it only succeeds in bringing about a small step in the right direction". "Need we say that two million little girls are mutilated around the world every year?" the paper asks. Is it "really so ridiculous" to devote one day to "pondering such facts?" The Paris-based International Herald Tribune notes that after what it calls "months of splintered and bewildering public debate", Irish voters have rejected a further tightening of the country's already strict abortion laws. The outcome of the referendum, the paper points out, "hinged on just 10,556 votes and showed sharp geographic divisions".

The Austrian Der Standard also sees the result as reflecting a growing contrast between the urban and rural mindsets. "This is slowly becoming a social problem" the paper says. It points out that "this is the second time, as with legalizing divorce, that the clued-up capital of Dublin drags the old-fashioned and devout rest of the country into the 21st century". "The citizens of Ireland have sensibly refused to criminalize women who suffer humiliation added to their despair," the paper concludes. But the German Die Tageszeitung dismisses the result because it does nothing to alter the fact that some 10,000 Irish women travel to Britain every year to terminate their pregnancies. "Never was a result as unimportant as this one," the paper says, "because it is not going to change reality an iota" and "abortion is not going to be allowed in Ireland in the foreseeable future". Back in Austria, Die Presse says the outcome was "not the fruit of society's learning curve but a result of the weather". Bad weather in the strongly anti-abortion western rural areas caused a low turnout, the paper says. 

The German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung returns to the death of two German soldiers in Kabul on Wednesday and to the loss of two German sailors on the same day during a NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea, saying these are "sides of one and the same coin". They all "died serving their Fatherland", the paper says, "anachronistic as it may sound to many people in this day and age". It is as wrong today to ask if Kabul is worth dying for, it adds, "as it was when people asked whether it was worth dying for Danzig". The German soldiers who died in Afghanistan "were ultimately there for the sake of Germany's security, for everyone's security". All the Spanish dailies highlight the news that the Madrid authorities have approved a bill cracking down on teenage alcohol abuse. "One of the bill's aims," says El Pais, "is to put an end to the tradition of 'El Botellon'", the Spanish expression for Big Bottle, referring to the frequent impromptu teenage outdoor drinking parties in city parks and historic plazas, usually at weekends. "The bill imposes very tough bans and limitations," the paper notes in an editorial, "but they are commensurate with the gravity of the problem." It contrasts what it calls "the justified alarm at drug abuse among the young", with "society's tolerance of alcohol", and points out that one-quarter of the deaths of people under 30 are alcohol-related. El Mundo agrees, but believes that the bill should only be passed after the authorities undertake to provide alternative alcohol-free venues for young people. "Otherwise," the paper warns, "the bill will not provide a remedy." 

The Slovak Narodna obroda finds something to worry about in the political predicament of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mr Blair is facing a busy political spring and must fight to regain people's trust. "The unpleasant memories of the 1978-79 winter of discontent... are coming back," the paper says of the period of industrial unrest which eventually ousted Labour from power. The prime minister "seems to have underestimated the political volatility of the situation in the public sector", with the state health service "on the brink of collapse and the railways faring no better". "Blair's popularity has dropped to a record low since last April", the paper warns.

The United Nations is marking this year's International Women's Day (IWD) by focusing on the plight of women in Afghanistan. As part of UN and other events organised around the world, America's First Lady Laura Bush will address a conference at the UN in New York. One of the main events will be the gathering in Kabul of 800 women from all over the country. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that after years of conflict, hardship and human rights violations, hope had returned to women and girls in Afghanistan who were again exercising their rights to education, work and an active role in society. 

Queen Noor of Jordan and Sima Wali, a delegate to the UN peace talks on Afghanistan, are also on the list of speakers at the commemoration at UN headquarters. Other events around the world include: 

Demonstrations in Bangladesh, including a man-only march in the capital, Dhaka, are held to protest against acid attacks on women.
  • Philippine President Gloria Arroyo says Abu Sayyaf Muslim guerrillas in the south routinely rape and physically abuse their women hostages.
  • Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf vows to end discrimination and violence against women and strive to help them attain greater political and economic rights.
  • Cyprus announces plans to recruit Greek Cypriot women as volunteers in its army of male conscripts.
  • In the UK, a 25-year-old Tibetan nun is to be made an honorary British citizen.
  • Russian mothers, wives and daughters are feted with flowers, chocolate and television tributes in what is one of the country's biggest holidays.
According to UN figures, only about 3% of girls received some form of primary education during the Taleban's rule. Afghanistan still has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Afghan women have also suffered domestic and other types of violence for the past 25 years, not just under the Taleban, says the UN. As military action in Afghanistan focused world attention on the Taleban's repression of women, the repression of women in nearby countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan remains largely unscrutinised, said Amnesty International on Friday. "Violence against women is one of the most pervasive yet hidden forms of human rights abuse throughout the world," Amnesty International's Secretary General Irene Khan said. 

Russia: As a special gesture to mark international womens' day female drivers who commit minor traffic offences in Ekaterinburg, Russia are not being penalised. Instead of fines, police officers are handing out gifts of flowers and perfume, congratulating them warmly on the holiday - and sending them on their way. The police are not just stopping offenders - there are presents for all women drivers in what officers say is a mark of respect for the fairer sex on this, their special day. The city's traffic police are not known for such generosity. Officers are poorly paid and rarely let even the most minor offender escape without a fine - official or otherwise. But in a rare and welcome role reversal, it's the police themselves who are doing the sweet talking on Friday. Even on a normal day, male drivers are the most likely to be stopped in Russia. There are fewer women behind the wheel - and police say they are generally more careful. But as one Ekaterinburg officer confided, they do have a particular weakness: "Women are always parking in bus stops," he said. "They insist on being as near as possible to the shops." For one day at least, they can get away with it. But officers warn this is strictly a one-off, and they will be offering something rather less pleasant than flowers tomorrow. After all, there is a whole day's lost wages to make-up
Countries around the world are celebrating International Women's Day - the main theme being the plight of Afghan women. Afghan women leaders called for at least 25% of the seats in the loya jirga or traditional assembly - being set up to appoint a transitional government to run the country until elections in 2004 - to be reserved for women. The call came as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, attended a ceremony in Kabul to mark women's day. Events have been organised all week to highlight the plight of women in Afghanistan - denied access to education and the right to work under the Taleban regime. The day is being marked in various ways all around the world - in New York, First Lady Laura Bush, the wife of President George W Bush, addressed a conference at the UN. "Afghanistan under the Taleban gave the world a sobering example of a country where women were denied their rights and their place in society," Mrs Bush said. "Prosperity cannot follow peace without educated women and children," she added. In Kabul, Ms Robinson shared a podium in a bombed-out former cinema with interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai and UN envoy to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi. 

Four girls released white doves into the air as a woman recited verses from the Koran. "We want every Afghan girl to have a pen and book in her hands and go to school," said Sima Samar, the interim government's Minister of Women's Affairs. In New York, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that after years of conflict, hardship and human rights violations, Afghan women had regained hope and started exercising their rights to education, work and an active role in society.
Other events around the world include:
  • In the Colombian capital Bogota a six-hour curfew is placed on the city's male population - with the streets cleared of men as women attend special events.
  • The Romanian government offers more than 20,000 jobs to unemployed women.
  • In the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, police decide that instead of fining female drivers for minor traffic violations, they will give them flowers and perfume.
According to UN figures, only about 3% of girls received any form of primary education under Taleban rule. Afghanistan still has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Afghan women have also suffered domestic and other types of violence for the past 25 years, not just under the Taleban, says the UN. As military action in Afghanistan focused world attention on the Taleban's repression of women, the repression of women in nearby countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan remains largely unscrutinised, Amnesty International said on Friday. "Violence against women is one of the most pervasive yet hidden forms of human rights abuse throughout the world," Amnesty International's Secretary General Irene Khan said. Amnesty also cited the case of Turkey, where around 200 girls are killed in the name of honour every year, and the US, where it says there are continuing reports of mental, physical and sexual abuse as well as medical neglect in women's prisons. 

The Anarcha-Feminist International has also been engaged in the situation at Sri Lanka, see http://www.anarchy.no/srilanka.html .
The United Nations' International Women's Day (IWD) this year focuses on the plight of women in Afghanistan.
One of the main events is the gathering in Kabul of 800 women from all over the country.
According to the United Nations, only about 3% of girls received some form of primary education during the Taleban's rule. Afghanistan still has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world.
Afghan women have also suffered domestic and other types of violence for the past 25 years, not just under the Taleban.
The worldwide awareness day includes events such as: America's First Lady Laura Bush addressing a conference at the UN in New York; demonstrations against acid attacks in Bangladesh; and Pakistan's President Musharraf vowing to end violence and discrimination against women. 

Will the day make any difference to the plight of women? How can their situation be improved? Do you think women have achieved equality?
How can women ever achieve equality when they are clearly so different? Why are people so obsessed with comparing men and women as if their qualities can be judged on a linear scale? The truth is that we treat the people around us differently depending on what we feel is important. If what we feel is important is irrational/misjudged then we need to be taught this and correct ourselves. However, often when people treat men and women differently for entirely practical reasons, there is always some do-gooder there to claim sexual discrimination and this is often crippling (especially small) businesses.
If women are being denied certain basic rights (such as equal access to education) then this appears to be a clear case of irrationality and so must be tackled as a high priority.
However, the problem with these "women's day¿s is that so many people use it to further the cause of relatively privileged western women and so shadow the plight of those in more immediate, desperate need. The argument claiming that women are paid X% less than men is, quite frankly, meaningless without a clear context and bores many people. It makes people switch off because we've heard it all before. Lets just hear the important details about discrimination which cripples and lets put it right! Mark, Germany.
As long as there are places where a foetus is aborted simply because it is of one particular sex, equality of genders has not been achieved. This day is very important at least to the third world countries where people are still struggling with basic needs. Ruchi, USA.
Women in the west are far from equal. They are still controlled by men: they dress for men, they eat (or should I say diet) for men, they exercise for men and they beautify themselves for menAlso, the desirable body image for women is also set by men and a woman strives to attain it. I don't call that freedom at all. Saad Ahmad, UK.
I have to disagree with Saad Ahmed's comment that in the West the desirable body shape for a woman is set by men. It is the pencil thin figures of models in glossy fashion magazines that encourage young girls to starve themselves thin - most of the editorial staff of such magazines are women as are the vast majority of readers. Ask any man and he will tell you he prefers a much healthier looking figure. As for Women's Day, I think it's a great idea - so long as it isn't hijacked by commercial capitalism and turned into another 'flowers and chocolates' day. Mick, UK.
Too much sentimentalising over the plight of women has served to take attention away from the plight of men. Life can be very discriminatory and violent towards males. Nine year old boys were conscripted in Afghanistan, to be disposed of via "daisy cutters" and other US ordnance. How do we weigh the moral outrage over that compared to the restrictions on women? "Women's Days" used to inspire me, now they just give me the creeps because they serve to overshadow very real concerns over the welfare and well being of the "other half" of humanity! Les Farkas, USA.
International Women's Day is an event that gained much importance in communist countries last century, where it replaced religious festivals such as Christmas and Easter. A quick look at some of these countries today, for example Russia (featured in the BBC's news story), show that the only significance it now holds is as a public holiday and an excuse for men, who otherwise treat their women particularly poorly the rest of the year, to assuage their guilt by giving the long-suffering women flowers and chocolates. It seems to be a symbolic, rather than practical occasion, although any effort to draw attention to women's plight can only be a good thing. Kate, UK.
While finally Afghani women are receiving some attention after suffering for all these years, stoning, flogging, and the abuse of basic human rights for Iranian women are overlooked. While Kofi Anan was shaking the hand of Khatami, on his recent trip to Iran, a Woman Teacher was beaten to death outside UN building for asking to be paid a fair salary! Who in the world is really caring about woman and human rights as an independent agency?! Asal, Iran.
A society that does not respect its women is a society that will never prosper. Until men realize that women are 50% of the population, until they realize that no civilization can live without women and that women are human beings just like them, then these societies will never prosper or develop. Women are mothers, sisters, daughters. They should be lawyers, doctors and professors. And if their own countries do not provide that, then they can kiss modernization, and development goodbye. This is not an issue that can only be remembered on a day, this is something that needs to be tackled everyday. Unfortunately, politicians seem to think that if they dedicate one day a year to cliché's and empty promises, 50% of the world population may be appeased and quieted down. Every year, politicians promise better lives for women. They promise equality and education, and every year, nothing changes. One day can not accomplish anything.. Riyam, USA/Palestine .
Women's Day is observed every year but it does not make any difference to women. This day was observed last year too but we do not see any change in the position of oppressed womanhood. The question of their rights and privileges is related to socio-economic conditions as well as the attitude of men. It is essential that all governments should be pressured to make and enforce laws that guarantee the rights of women and their participation in all walks of life. It makes me extremely depressed that only a very small percentage of girls in the underdeveloped world go to school which shuts the doors of employment upon them and results in their complete dependence on men who maltreat them in the most cruel manner. The ritual of observing Women's Day is stale and does not contribute to the uplifting of women in the least. Professor Mukhtar Ali Naqvi, USA.
Admittedly, the status of women around the world varies greatly, and it's only really in the West that we've grown to accept women and men as equals. However, I think the plight of women around the world should be an issue that's important EVERY DAY - making one day special does not do justice to women who are persecuted for 365 each year. Ed Vista, UK.
It is good to highlight positive things and in the case of women, why should it NOT be positive? After all, we are the creators of life, are we not? Today all women in the Western World should give thanks for the comfortable lives we lead and think of our not-so comfortable sisters in places like Afghanistan, fighting to be seen and heard. However, I still do not think that women, per se, have reached absolute equality, especially in the professional sectors. We still have a way to go. Rose Waisberg, Belgium.
I feel so sad that women have achieved so little and that abusive men can still be used by other powerful men to achieve their own ends rather than looking at peoples as a whole including those without a voice, women and children. What 'victories' for women achieved in the West are surface only and grudgingly made. No real change has occurred at all. June Le Sueur, London.
Both extremes of bias towards either sex are equally dangerous. It's not right for a man to beat up a woman but this does not mean it's right for a woman to beat up a man. However, we haven't reached total equality yet - my maid still thinks it's her duty to be beaten up by a drunk husband. This is what should move us into action; Women's Day is not for the privileged to sit about and celebrate their greatness, but to help the unfortunate receive blessings we see as mere rights. Rachana, India .
I don't think they should hold a day like this in the UK as I believe both sexes are now on a level playing field. How about introducing this to Afghanistan instead where it would be more useful? Chris Gower, London, UK.
This is the day especially in Africa when women reflect on how much they have been subjected to - untold suffering ranging from civil wars, to rape and child labour. But while women all over the world from rich nations are spending this occasion celebrating their achievements, women not only in Afghanistan but from the majority of countries in Africa are dying from hunger. My appeal to the developed world is simply to help developing nations find solutions. If women in Africa are not taken care of they will be wiped out. Remember that African women are the ones who take the responsibility of caring for the whole family, including the husband. What do men do for women in Africa? Nothing. Abong O Eliud, Kenya.
Women face discrimination all over the world, although it manifests itself in different ways in different places. International Women's Day is important in educating people about the injustices that women face. Ultimately change must come from within and must be instigated by the people. An educated public is our best hope for eradicating discrimination. Shereen Siddiqui, USA.
This will achieve absolutely nothing. Afghanistan has always been and will always be a troublesome nation. The majority of their male population carry machine guns and other weaponry around with them. Can you see it all becoming equal and the women of Afghanistan fighting for their nation and carrying guns? It will never work and things will not change. This is a pointless exercise. Mark Blackburn, Essex, England.
The women of Afghanistan have no rights and never will. There is no point in this as the UN is trying to change a country's culture that goes back thousands of years. Men are the leading sex in Afghanistan and that is how it will remain.Fraser Howse, Essex, UK.
Actually this is a sacred day for the women of Afghanistan. They are now to feel freedom whilst they were not given freedom in the Taleban regime. Their situation gets improved day by day, although most of them haven't been in the framework of education for the past six years. In the new interim government, women are given Ministries and this is a live fact that women have got equality. The women of Afghanistan are very happy with the new interim government. This day will make the interim government succeed. Khalid Hamza, Kabul, Afghanistan.
How would the organisers of this event feel about participating in an International Man's Day. Not so eager I bet. Talk about having your cake and eating it. I appreciate the plight of Afghan women and those of other nations too but I would prefer to help those who are most needy not just those of one particular sex. Richard, UK.
Presumably the Women's Day' is to celebrate that in so many ways women expect and get prefential treatment in most areas of life. Healthcare, most aspects of the law, government legislation being just three areas. Come on, give men a break and start to mark the fact that it's men which are now the second-class citizens. Tony Vickers, England.
Good comment Paul! By celebrating women's day, the specific woman admits that they should be treated specially and have a special day for them. This implies that they admit they are inferior! You can have best of both worlds, either you are equal or you are not! Like the saying goes, some are more equal than others! Jacques, Sweden
I find both Fraser and Mark's comments rather fatalistic in attitude. If we are to go along their lines of thinking are we to do nothing as a global society and just sit back and watch women suffer and die in Afghanistan?! A thousand miles begins with one step. Paula, UK.
Most of the men's comments on this page just seem to enhance the reason why we HAVE a day like this! Women are being abused in many many ways, all over the world (yes! including in the UK!) Yet the men see no need to honour and support these women. Susannah, England.
The implication is that only women suffer in the world. I don't think so. David Hall, England.
I think every nation on earth is gender biased. But women of a different nationality have different dreams and different needs to fulfil. So the priorities change. We cannot define women's needs based on western concepts of equality and freedom, as this varies with culture. I think women's day is a good concept and it reminds of the work we need to do, to achieve certain goals. But always the difference between man and women will exist as it is a reality, however unfortunate. Dr.A.K.S.Pillai, UK/India.
To Paul Charters: The day that men have to fear walking alone, saying the wrong thing to a drunken, abusive husband, or being burned by acid because they've breached their family's "honour" is the day you will see International Men's Day. Until that time, why don't you use your big manly voice and try to help? Jennifer Ethington, USA.
I agree with Chris. Concentrating on inequality of women is not as relevant to our developed countries today, as it is to developing countries, or it was to developed countries several decades ago. Here in the UK, women now have as as many legal rights as men. Although raising general awareness is a good thing, actions always speak louder than words, and the actions that make a difference to these women have to be taken within the developing countries. We can all pat ourselves on the back for thinking about their plight, but unless we go over there to pass on knowledge and skills, or help those who do, nothing will ever change. And let's not give with one hand while taking away with the other; don't invest or trade with companies which use these people for cheap labour; buy fairly traded products and ethical investments that help such countries build a stable economy. Jon, UK.
Reply to Chris Gower in London. If women and men truly were on a level playing field then women's day would not be an event. Although things have come a long way in recent years we still have a long way to go. Becci Coghlan, UK .
To say that only western civilisation has grown to accept men and women as equals is misleading. In most western countries women are subject to exploitation of their bodies in forms of advertisements, in films and in pornographic literature. If this is equality, then it is a depressing one indeed. Yasmin Shah, East London, UK .
I disagree with those readers who don't think this conference will have any effect. Just because inequality still exists the world over doesn't mean we should just throw up our hands and say it will never change. My parents attitude about sexual equality made a difference in the lives of their three children, who will in turn effect others. Even if this conference only changes the life of one woman, think of how important it is to her. Nothing changes overnight, especially social customs. But change does happen when people are persistent. So, to all the pessimists out there, don't lose hope and don't underestimate the effect you can have on another person's life. Sarah Webber, USA.
The Anarcha-Feminist International strongly supports all womens' fight for liberation according to the Anarcha-Feminist Manifesto!
Anarchist, feminist and anarcha-feminist greetings from
Anna Quist
Co-writer of the Anarcha-Feminist Manifesto in 1982, presenting it a.o.t. at the International Anarchist Gathering/Conference in Venice 1984, and later at different international anarchist events and media. See

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