Women and community radio

Check out AMARC for interviews with women and about women in relation to the World Social Forum in different languages – and particularly the use of community radio for women’s empowerment.

There’s also a piece on Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender rights in Zimbabwe.

But be warned: it takes a while to download the items.

January 29, 2007 at 9:39 pm 1 comment

Women’s voice was strong and clear

Terraviva the independent family of publications from Inter Press Service (IPS) covering the WSF has an interview with Fatma Alloo, a member of the organising committee, written up by Zarina Geloo, on women’s voices at the forum.

There is also a column by Patrizia Sentinelli, Vice Minister for Foreign Co-operation, Italy, who was very active in the forum, encouraging dialogue between government and civil society. See her speech A continent of hope and innovation

January 29, 2007 at 9:30 pm Leave a comment

An end to HIV / AIDS

Ubuntu World Forum of Civil Society Networks covered the WSF. The website has a short video clip on Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya (WOFAK) as well as clips of Wangari Maathai, Sarah Longwe, Fatma Alloo, Virginia Vargas and Danielle Mitterand speaking in different debates.

There are also links to articles published on the WSF. For example, Joyce Mulama’s article for IPS: An end to HIV/AIDS: A tall order in face of violence

Ubuntu means ‘caring, sharing and being in harmony with all of creation’.

January 29, 2007 at 7:21 pm 1 comment

The blog continues

The blog, like the WSF, is a process that continues after the forum itself in Nairobi. Now that participants are arriving back home, we will be inviting a number of women’s groups to contribute news, reports, reflections and plans over the next two weeks. So please keep visiting the blog.

January 29, 2007 at 5:35 pm 1 comment

Breaking out of internal colonisation

Many thanks to Susan Willett for posting this comment on the article about women and civil society published on openDemocracy before the World Social Forum began

I have been a peace activist/academic/feminist for the past 30 years and am only too aware of the ways in which women are marginalised in all manner of national and international forums. Gender inequality even thrives within NGOs and civil society organisations that should know better. But I have to say there is some truth in the words of Candido Grzybouski when he states that women are ‘a minority created by ourselves’. All to often womens groups/oprganisations/and womens officers in NGOs promote women as victims- the victims of poverty, the victims of violence, the victims of war, the victims of sexual abuse and exploitation, the victims of global inequality etc etc. Men are also victims of these social and political evils but this is not what defines their gender identity or politics.

I have witnessed little progress for women in fighting these issues in the last three decades because we seem to have absorbed the ideology of victimhood into feminist identity and praxis. Little wonder that men are not interested in attending feminist workshops at forums like the WSF. There are only so many years that you can listen to a discourse of woes. As women we need to break out of this form of internal colonisation and empower ourselves in positive practice that changes the world around us. This means abandoning our self created ghettos where we bemoan our fate and create narratives of victimhood and elite discourses that only initiates with PhDs can understand. Rather we should be engaged in the mainstream to bring our voices to bear on the policies and practices that marginalise us, to fight for positions of leadership, to influence events at a local national regional and international level. The practice of fighting for equality and recognition in ones own life is as much a part of feminist politics as is campaigning to improve the plight of others.

The personal is still political – this is where we most acutely experience discrimination, insult and abuse. It is through the aquisition of personal power and confidence that we can most easily change power relations between men and women. Institutional inequality and gender discrimination persists despite reams of legislation because we have not yet purged our sense of ourselves as a minority.

Be strong in yourselves Sisters and the world is yours for the taking.

Susan Willett

January 29, 2007 at 5:28 pm Leave a comment

Capacity

See suryamurthy’s blog on what G8 countries are saying about Africa at the World Economic Summit. Personally, I see lots of capacity in Africa…

January 28, 2007 at 5:49 pm Leave a comment

Film: Moolaade

This is the controversial but courageous story of girls who refuse to be circumcised. They take refuge with an older woman under a traditional spell of protection. The film, set in Burkina Faso and directed by Ousmane Sembene was screened after the forum ended at a public meeting of the Fund for Grassroots Activism to end Female Genital Mutilation (supported by Equality Now.)

The good news is that in Burkina Faso, the incidence of FGM has reduced, thanks to systematic enforcement of the law. However, according to Efua Dorkenoo statistics from the Demographic Health Survey indicate that this is exceptional: in many African countries the incidence rate remains at 98%.

Grassroots workers at the meeting agreed that, while the law is necessary, it is not sufficient. Girls who run away from home are often too frightened to testify against their parents in public, while lawyers and the police lack training and sensitisation on how to deal with these cases.

Information campaigns, use of songs and drama, work with youth and community dialogues are all strategies that are being used to combat the myths surrounding FGM.

The fact that the film is being screened more widely indicates that the silence – which has surrounded this issue for so long – has now been broken. The topic has so far been deemed by governments to be ‘too sensitive’ for open discussion.

Too sensitive for whom? Babies as young as 5 days old are now being mutilated. It constitutes torture – and has lifelong effects on women’s health. While men try to shrug off the responsibility as ‘women’s business’ they are in fact the major shareholders. Bernadette, a Kenyan working with the Masai to raise awareness of the link between health problems and FGM, tells me, ‘it’s used as a way of maintaining power over women.’

See the film, if you get the chance. And don’t forget. No holy scripture, no religion, requires harmful practices or discrimination against women. This is just one of the myths.

January 28, 2007 at 5:06 pm 1 comment

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