BY KIM BULLIMORE
SYDNEY — The Sydney International Women's Day Collective, which has been meeting since November last year, has voted overwhelmingly to organise an IWD march and rally on March 8 around the theme of "Peace, Justice, Diversity, Solidarity — Women Against War and Racism".
More than 25 women have attended the most recent collective meetings, at which there has been discussion about how to involve more women in IWD, how to oppose war and racism, and campaign for paid maternity leave and increases to women's wages.
A number of demands are being considered for the protest, including: "No war on Iraq — No Australian involvement", "Money for paid maternity leave, quality childcare, wages and social services not warfare" and "Stop the attacks on Muslim and Arab women".
"International Women's Day 2003 provides an opportunity to highlight the effects of war and racism on society as a whole, but also women in particular", said Bea Brear, an union activist with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and member of the Sydney IWD collective.
Rihab Charida, a Palestinian human rights activist helping to organise IWD, told Green Left Weekly, "Women are being attacked in the streets because of their race, colour and religious clothing. Unfortunately, these occurrences are not isolated, recently I received an email from a group of Muslim women saying how their car tyres were slashed on New Year's Eve and they were left stranded for hours in an isolated park."
Charida went on: "At a time when Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Howard are all telling us how evil Saddam Hussein is, Howard is also sanctioning the locking up and demonising of hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees. According to Howard and immigration minister Philip Ruddock, these innocent men, women and children are supposedly also a threat to Australia's security".
Lisa Macdonald, a long-time feminist and Socialist Alliance's lead candidate for the NSW Legislative Council told GLW, "IWD, since its inception in 1911, has been a day for women and men to stand in solidarity with women around the world".
"Over the years, IWD has taken to the streets, sparked off a revolution, demonstrated at doors of newspapers and welfare institutions and occupied houses to gain shelter for homeless women. This year we are continuing that tradition by standing in solidarity with women who are facing the threat of war internationally and who are suffering the ravages of neo-liberal and racist attacks in Australia ", she said.
For more information about the Sydney International Women's Day Collective phone Kim on 0439 454 375 or Melissa on 0409 655 922.
From Green Left Weekly, January 29, 2003.
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