women's liberation

The March 8 demonstrations commemorating 100 years of International Women’s Day in Cairo, Egypt — flowing on from the inspirational revolution that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak on February 11 — have highlighted the ongoing struggle for women’s rights around the world.

One hundred years ago, more than one million people in four European countries attended the first IWD protest. It was organised in support of the right to vote and equal pay for women.

About 2000 people attended the March 12 International Women’s Day rally in Sydney. The rally demanded equal pay for women workers — specifically better pay for community sector workers.

In Adelaide, 150 women and male supporters gathered for International Women’s Day on the steps of the state Parliament House on March 10.

The crowd heard from state ALP MP Steph Key and actor Eileen Darley. Darley detailed the working women’s history of International Women’s Day and led the crowd in singing the feminist anthem, “Bread and Roses”.

About 10,000 people marched on the Philippines Congress on March 8 to mark International Women’s Day (IWD) and demand passage of the Reproductive Health Bill before Congress.

The bill would allow greater access to modern contraceptives and sex education.

The bill proposes more maternal health services, raising the number of midwives to one for every 150 deliveries. Contraceptives would also be funded for poor women and would be included in the standard supplies of medicine in hospitals.

Modern family planning methods would be provided in all accredited health facilities.

Since 2004, a mass mobilisation of popular support for marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people has gained momentum, and now a possible victory is in sight.

But sadly, marriage equality would not mean an end to homophobia or transphobia in Australia.

Lurking behind Australia’s marriage ban is an even more sinister injustice clothed in the language of religious tolerance.

On March 8, women’s rights campaigners around the world will celebrate the 100th International Women’s Day (IWD).

There could be no more fitting testament to the meaning of IWD than the words of one of the thousands of Egyptian women who joined the democracy protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo last month. The people’s struggle to be rid of dictator Hosni Mubarak, she said, is also a struggle for women’s rights: "[Before] we had nothing, now I guess we will take everything."

IWD was born in a time of great social turbulence and huge struggles by ordinary people for a better life.

Your Skirt’s Too Short — Sex, Power, Choice
By Emily Maguire
2010, The Text Publishing Company

“Does your boyfriend or brother spend a lot of money on skin and hair care products?”

“Do the majority of fathers you know spend most of their time at home washing, cleaning, cooking and taking care of their kids? Do you often hear mothers refer to looking after their own kids as ‘babysitting’?”

“Are you sick of hearing men go on about how hard it is to balance work and parenthood?”

Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under
First single: ‘Map of Tasmania’
Amanda Palmer
Available at www.amandapalmer.net/afp

I first met US singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer when she was playing with drummer Brian Viglione in punk cabaret band The Dresden Dolls. Her song writing and performance was brutally honest, going places stylistically and thematically into which very few performers in today’s music industry venture.

The world’s largest workforce is on call 24-hours-a-day and receives no wages.

Domestic workers and carers for children, ageing or ill members of society or those with disabilities are usually women living within family units. They are most often the partners, mothers or daughters of the people for whom they provide this care.

Most of these tasks are performed out of love for their family members. But female carers and domestic workers are often deprived of freedom of choice in their living and working conditions.

Laurel Walker and Vanna Lockwood, teachers at St Peters Community Preschool, are involved in the Independent Education Union's campaign for pay parity for early childhood teachers.

Lockwood told Green Left Weekly: "Current scientific research on the development of the brain advocates the importance of a child's early years. Four-year university trained teachers are choosing not to work in early childhood because of the low pay and low status of the profession.

I do not support women being forced to wear the burqa. I see it as one manifestation of the myriad of ways women are oppressed in this patriarchal society.

But I want to make it clear that I do not support a ban on the wearing of a burqa. Banning the wearing of a burqa would simply mean that the person who wears it — voluntarily or otherwise — is criminalised. It would not, as some female supporters of the ban argue, help women extricate themselves from patriarchal control over their lives.

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