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Urgent call re Women's Day at the European Social Forum

Global Women's Strike | 17.06.2004 19:42 | European Social Forum | Free Spaces | Gender | World

At a women’s briefing meeting this week, we heard from UK organisers that giving women independent space was not seen as a priority. Yet the Women’s Day at the Paris ESF last November was decisive in making women’s campaigns visible, including grassroots organising against immigration and asylum laws, and against war and occupation. After 30 years of the modern women’s movement and feminism, nobody in the present ESF process seems to know why women must be able to meet independently. What do you think can be done to stop this backward step?

Please send in your name in support of the
Call For a Women's Day at the European Social Forum (ESF) 2004, London

We were asked by the Programming group of the ESF in London to prepare a written proposal for a Women’s Day, for the UK Assembly and European Assembly. Our proposal continues what was established at the ESF meeting in Paris Nov 03 where a Women’s Day was held the day before the full Forum started. Over 3,000 women and about 800 men attended (men were not speakers). Many more women came to the main forum as a result and grassroots women were seen and heard. Sans Papieres (women without documents), and other women of colour had an impact at the final plenary because they got together at the Women’s Day.

Why we need a Women's Day

1. Without a women’s day, sexism, and for those of us who are women of colour, racism, will prevent the visibility of women, our needs, demands and concerns. Women of almost every sector in society work harder for less -- doing 2/3 of the world’s work for 5% of the income and 1% of the assets. From breastfeeding, raising children, to caring for people who are sick, older, have disabilities -- our work, mostly without any wages, sustains life and communities. Our waged jobs are most likely to be the lowest paid with the worst conditions. We face rape and violence because our lives are not seen to count. We often spearhead movements for change (all polls show women are even more against war than men) but our daily struggle for the survival of our communities and for social justice are often invisible.

2. At many forums and major events, even when the spokespeople are women, women’s experience doesn’t come out. Far from reducing women’s participation, as some have claimed, a women’s forum would make it possible for grassroots non-party political women from different backgrounds and experiences to have a voice. Whether it is single mothers or low paid women refusing to be sidelined; women asylum seekers fighting for the right to work and against destitution; Black and immigrant women fighting racist attacks, older women fighting derisory pensions; women with disabilities defending home care; women and girls demanding justice against rape and other violence; sex workers fighting criminalisation; lesbian and straight, from rural and urban areas, and every part of the movement – all would have space at the Women’s Day, making our achievements more widely known and strengthening the vital connections among us, women and men. Some key issues include pay equity for women and men in the global market; women’s anti-war organising; defending Haiti, and the Venezuela revolution which includes recognition of women’s unwaged work as economic activity producing social welfare and wealth, and entitling women to social security. These are among some of the many isssus we expect would be highlighted at the event.

We are in touch daily with women and men organising in both mixed and women's organizations, in Scotland, North & South of England, Wales, across Europe and internationally who support this demand.

On widening participation, Droits Devants, a grassroots organization of asylum seekers and others in Paris, succeeded in getting safe passage for Sans Papiers stopped at borders on their way to the Paris ESF. It is urgent to find out from Droit Devants how they achieved this, so the same rights can be secured for Sans Papiers/es to attend the ESF in London. Also can we organize video links to enable activists who can’t travel to participate in the Forum.

Please add your signature and return to Global Women’s Strike, PO Box 287, London NW6 5QU or email: Tel: 020 7482 2496


Sara Callaway and Anna T (England)
Maggie Ronayne (Ireland)
Sara Williams (Spain) Global Women's Strike
Ruth Luschnat, Frauenforum Berlin (Germany).

This Call also available in French, German, Italian, Macedonian, Portuguese & Spanish

Signatories so far

All African Women’s Group (UK)

Associació Dones No Estàndards (women with disabilities organisation in Barcelona)
Ballymum Women’s Centre (Ireland)

Black Women’s Rape Action Project (UK)

Central America Women’s Network (UK)

Droits Devant (France)

Eden Centre, Teddington, Margaret Breen

Femmes Urgences Droits et Logement (France)

Gaia Foundation (UK office)

Group of Women in Devon and Cornwall, Lavinia George

Institute of Equality Research Centre of Women’s Affairs (Greece)

Iraqi Women’s League (UK)

Libertad XXI Siecle in ULG (France)

LinC (Lesbians in Cork)

Liverpool Committee Against Destitution of Asylum Seekers

Middlesex University Student Union, Robert Banford, President

Network for Economic and Political Democracy (UK)

Non-Aligned Women’s Movement (Greece)

NUS Black Students Officer, Michelle Codrington

Payday Men's Network (Italy and England)

SOS Immigration (UK)

Telesilla Greek Feminist Network (Greece)

Terre des Femmes e.V. (Germany)

Theatre of War (UK)

W.I.A. Welfare International Association, Anna Costatin (Italy)

Women Against Rape (UK)

Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (Amsterdam)

Zimbabwe Women’s Network (UK)


Mª Carme Riu i Pascual (Spain)

Concepció Monreal i Serra (Spain)

Dagmar Diesner (UK)

Edwin Perez Uberhauga, journalist from Bolivia (Switzerland)

Irene Willis, member Green Party

Jaume Ros i Navarro (Spain)

Laura Sullivan (MuteMag UK/US)

Luisa Moreno i Jiménez (Spain)

Mairin Mhic Lochliann (Ireland)

Mariangela Casalucci, Manchester Social Forum

Massimo de Angelis, NATFHE UEL Barking Branch and London Social Forum

Melanie Jarman (UK)

Olga Martinez Perez (Spain)

Sarah Bracke, Next GenDeration (Belgium)

Stuart Hodkinson (UK)

Susan Quick, Social Forum Calderdale

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