women's liberation

For many years, competitions granting prizes have been a successful tool used by marketers to try to promote their cause or business.

However, there should be great concern when the prize up for grabs represents sexist ideas and targets women who feel inadequate about their appearance.

Last month, Sin City Nightclub on the Gold Coast promoted breast enhancement surgery “worth $10,000” as a competition prize.

Through the eyes of many modern women, it seems difficult to comprehend that not so many decades ago women all around the Western world were fighting for the basic rights and freedoms they so rightly deserved.

Amid an ongoing struggle, laws began to change and social ideals began to alter. A new sense of empowerment quickly emerged as women entered the workforce and marked their places in the political arena.

Had gender equality finally been won? Or did certain stereotypes of women remain beneath the surface, waiting to be shaped by the norms of modern society and popular culture?

I’ve never really bought the idea that 17-year-old Canadian-born pop star Justin Bieber is just some harmless, happy-go-lucky teen heart-throb. Anyone who saw the near-riot he inspired in Liverpool can attest to this.

His most recent comments about abortion in an interview published by Rolling Stone on February 16, however, crosses a whole new line.

“I really don’t believe in abortion,” Bieber told the music magazine. “It's like killing a baby?”

The article below is based on a speech by veteran feminist activist Eva Cox to the March 12 Sydney International Women’s Day protest.

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I wore my 1973 T-shirt to the march today to remind myself of what we were hoping to do. It was printed by Canberra Women’s Liberation for the women who were short-listed for the first ever Prime Ministerial Women’s Adviser’s job with Gough Whitlam.

It has the clenched fist women’s symbol on the front and the word superwoman on the back.

"Women's rights are human rights!" was the theme of a rally and march held in Brisbane on March 5 to celebrate 100 years of International Women's Day (IWD). About 100 people rallied in Brisbane Square and later marched through city streets to Emma Miller Place for a concert.

The rally also called for an end to mandatory detention of refugees, an end to the Northern Territory intervention, equal pay, equal marriage rights and the repeal of all anti-abortion laws.

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.

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