Thousands mark International Women's Day


Thousands of women around the country celebrated International Women's Day on March 7-8. About 5000 marched in Sydney, reports Tracy Sorensen. Themes included the right to choose abortion, opposition to the closure of Royal Women's Hospital, sexual violence and images of women in the media.

At a rally in Hyde Park, IWD collective member Janet Fraser angrily addressed the marchers about radio 2MMM's contribution the day before. Morning show presenter Doug Mulray had referred to a woman in the studio as a "bimbo", and the Mulray character "Fifi" was heard reading the news as if in the throes of sexual passion. The Sydney IWD collective has contacted the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission over the matter.

Highlights of the rally at Hyde Park included skits by the Older Women's Network, songs by Jenny Cargill, and a speech from Hapi Ho of the Asian Lesbian Network.

Jane Beckman reports from Newcastle that 300 women marched to Civic Park, where they heard speakers Mary McGill (metalworkers' union), Reet Kabi (Family Planning Association) and Sue Cable (Women's Refuge Network). The theme for the day was "a woman's right to choose".

Darwin women marked the day with a march and rally and a dance in the evening, while from Hobart Sandra Williamson and Joy McEntee report one of the largest, most spirited IWD marches for many years. The weather was perfect, the women loud, and the police nowhere to be seen.

After a rousing speech by Kathryn Osborne on the theme "Don't let them tell you it's over", about 500 people circled the city block, staying afterwards to listen to June Campbell from Amnesty International, Teresa Dowding from the Women's Action Group, Jenny Gorringe on Koori rights, Marg Hughes on child-care, Nancy Roldan on Spanish women's solidarity and a speaker from the Anglican Church on women and religion.

During the march, a woman who asked for police assistance after a she was knocked down by a car that harassed the march for much of the route got a two-finger salute in response. No-one who was there believed for a minute that the fight for women's liberation is over.

In Melbourne, Bronwen Beechey reports a march of 2000, again the biggest turnout for several years, around the theme of "Stop Violence Against Women". The crowd was largely young. Later that day was an end-of-march fair and that night the traditional IWD dance.

In Adelaide, about 1000 marched around the theme "Women working from the ground up", with a focus on international solidarity. Speakers at a later rally included Rosa Joaquim of the Campaign for an Independent East Timor, abortion researcher Margie Ripper, Resistance member Emma Webb and representatives of the Radical Disabled Women's Union.

In Brisbane on March 8, more than 500 people marched in what may be the biggest and most successful International Women's Day Price reports that the theme, "Speaking Out, Being Heard", was taken up by many of the guest speakers, who included representatives from the Movement for Ordination of Women, the Women's Abortion Campaign, the East Timorese community and more. Entertainment was provided by a host of artists, including Ruth Apelt.

Guest Dale Spender opened the day, which drew a crowd of women and men who marched from City Plaza to the Botanical Gardens, where food and information stalls awaited them.

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