GGJ Attends World March of Women 8th International Meeting
Reportback by Sunyoung Yang, Senior Organizer and Researcher with The Labor/Community Strategy Center
In November I attended the 8th International Meeting of the World March of Women (WMW) representing GGJ Alliance in Quezon City, Philippines. It was the first time that GGJ attended this meeting as an international ally of the WMW- this meeting is usually an internal gathering of all their international committee members and coordinating bodies to discuss strategies and goals for the next 3 years of work. I was especially humbled and appreciative of the WMW inviting us to be part of this gathering, which wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the movement relationship building and international work that GGJ has done over the past 5 years with the WMW.
There were over 80 women around the world from 35 different countries who gathered to report out and discuss the struggles against capitalist patriarchy, militarization and violence against women, and issues of peace and gender justice in their respective countries. Here are some highlights from the gathering:
- They had a major gathering in Bukavu in the Congo where the UN security forces are wreaking havoc and 3 years ago there were rebel forces that massacred and mass buried 40 some women and children in town, accusing them of supporting opposition. The Bukavu gathering of WMW brought together 150 int'l womyn and over 20,000 people -- womyn from nearby villages and Congo’s first lady to condemn the massacre that happened.
- Brazil had a 10 day march for womyn bringing together several thousand womyn from all diasporas in Brazil hitting major cities to hold education workshops and rallies at each depot on defending social programs, fighting sexual violence, and denouncing war and its impact on womyn.
- Collective strategic vision, action, strategy chart that laid out a strong affirmation of WMW as a feminist action based grassroots movement focused in challenging imperialism and capitalist patriarchy
- More than a dozen different Filipina organizations presented Filipina feminist history through narrative and theater. Took us through pre-colonization matriarchal society then went through the struggle of resistance led by womyn in 3 successive colonization periods by the Spaniards, US, Japanese, and current military/economic domination by the US. (see photos)
- Besides GGJ, there were 6 other ally organizations present: La Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth, CDTM-Debt Cancellation Coalition, ITUC, World Rainforest Movement, and WGNRR (Int’l network working on sex trafficking issues). It was the first time that all these different international allies were invited to participate in WMW’s international meeting.
- I participated in the Americas regional working group meeting. The Americas region is divided into 5 sub-regions including N. America (Quebec, Canada, and Mexico), Central America, Caribbean, Andean-Amazonian nations, and Southern Cone (which will coordinating convergence at the Rio+20.)
- We ended the night celebrating with food and live music that was hosted by the boardmember of Miriam College, one of the more progressive schools in Manila that was founded by Jesuits. The boardmember is a close friend of the Filipina feminist organizations and supporter of World March of Women. The festivity included everyone dancing to the music of an indy feminist band and University of Philippines very own bantucada troupe.
- We left the confines of the University of Philippines early in the morning decked out WMW purple and each of our respective organization’s paraphernalia to march through Manila for the passage of the Women’s Health Access Bill. Catholicism dominates the country and the bill which would allow contraceptives and family planning for womyn was being staunchly opposed by the churches and conservative and religious fundamentalists. We walked blocking traffic through several miles of diesel exhaust and staring cars and buses chanting. The march ended outside the presidential palace area where dozens of Filipina feminist organizations, trade unions, international representatives spoke to denounce the continuing violence against women and lack of legislation to protect women from sex trafficking and prostitution.
- Public Forum on Peace, Demilitarization, and Violence Against Women/ Gender Justice, Access to Commons and Women’s Work.