Feminists march for IWD


After having been postponed due to rain a week earlier, the International Women's Day march went ahead in Adelaide on March 13, reports Jo Ellis. Three hundred women and men rallied in support of the march's main demand, that anti-abortion laws be abolished.

At Victoria Square, IWD Collective member Erica Lewis addressed the crowd, which then held a minute's silence to commemorate all women who have lost their lives in the struggle for human rights, as political prisoners and as a result of backyard abortions.

Melanie Sjoberg from Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor read an IWD message from Indonesian political prisoner Dita Sari. Sjoberg said she welcomed the opening of democratic space in Indonesia, but noted that in the past week, 200 IWD marchers were arrested in Indonesia.

Chanting "Back to the backyard, no way!", the rally marched to Parliament House, where Kathy Newnam from the Democratic Socialist Party talked about the state of abortion rights in Australia and condemned the major political parties for allowing their MPs a conscience vote on the issue.

The rally also demanded an end to cuts to the public sector. Janet Giles from the Australian Education Union called for support for trade unions' campaign to stop the state Liberal government's planned scrapping of unfair dismissal laws in casual and part-time jobs, introduction of compulsory junior rates in all awards and restrictions on trade unions' entry to workplaces.

The rally also demanded an end to sexist and ageist images in the mass media.

From Campbelltown in Sydney's south-west, Gail Lord reports that about 100 women gathered outside the council chambers on March 8 for the Macarthur region's first IWD march. The event was organised by the Women in the Local Macarthur Area Women's Health Centre (WILMA) in association with the Macarthur Sexual Assault Team and the local migrant resource centre.

The women marched enthusiastically along Queen Street, chanting and waving purple and green balloons. The march culminated in a festival, at which speakers included Jane Mears from the University of Western Sydney's Macarthur campus and Karen Willis from WILMA. Willis pointed out that women in Sydney's south-west have poorer health than men, earn less than men in comparable jobs and experience high rates of domestic violence.

Ema Corro reports from Hobart that around 150 people gathered on Parliament Lawns on March 6 for the IWD rally demanding the right to paid work, abolition of anti-abortion laws, free quality child-care and no voluntary student unionism. The enthusiastic marchers stopped outside the Queen Alexandra Hospital, which is being privatised, and chanted "Give us back our hospital!".

Speakers included Miranda Morris from the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, Nikki Ulasowski from the Democratic Socialist Party, Lou-Anne Barker, who explained the 1980s BHP "Jobs for women" campaign, and Dr Kamala Emanuel, who spoke about women's right to choose abortion. Letters of solidarity from Dita Sari and women workers in Nepal were read.