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Grassroots Women Refuse to be Silenced at the ESF

Global Women's Strike | 08.11.2004 14:14 | European Social Forum

Letter published in the Guardian about censorship of the grassroots at the European Social Forum.

Letter published in the Guardian Tuesday October 26, 2004

Women must be heard

A major problem for grassroots organisers, especially if we are women, is that neither Stop the War nor the unions are independent of political parties, and both sabotage any organising that doesn't serve their interests (Letters, October 25).

Women are central to achieving real economic and political change. Yet women were silenced at the recent European Social Forum, in which Stop the War and various unions had a controlling hand.

Fifty organisations from 12 countries asked the ESF to hold a women's day. We were turned down - so we called our own. The ESF then hurriedly convened a short women's assembly chaired by those who opposed the women's day. When we finally spoke at the closing plenary, many agreed that a women's day should be integral to the ESF. They also agreed that there is no place at the ESF for police being called on protesters, and for pro-war Iraqi men being given a platform, while anti-war Iraqi women, asylum seekers and Haitians opposed to the US-French coup are not.

Anna Thorburn
Global Women's Strike
Tina Baguma
All African Women's Group
Charo Luque Galvez
Mujeres de Negro, Spain
Eva Thun
Women's News, Hungary
Katarzyna Gawlicz
Wroclaw University, Poland
Renata Franmartino
Unione Donne Migranti Per La Pace, Italy
Sara Callaway
Women of Colour in the Global Women's Strike
Anna Kaminska
Pre-Election Coalition of Women, Poland
Asun Navarro
Collectiu 8 de Marc, Alcoi, Spain
Carolyn Kagan
Director Research Institute for Health and Social Change, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dee Coombes
Liverpool Committee Against the Destitution of Asylum Seekers
Domenico D'Anna
Segreteria Provinciale Modena, Confederazione Generale Italiana Lavoratori, CGIL, Italy
Ingrid McClements
Katarina Ferro
ARGE Feminismus, Austria
Katarzyna Szumlewicz
Maggie Ronayne
Global Women's Strike, Ireland
Marcin Starnawski
Active Society Group, Wroclaw, Poland
Marek Krakowski
Margarita Morales
Mariangela Casalucci
Manchester Social Forum, in a personal capacity
Owen English
Indymedia Oxford, in a personal capacity
Payday men's network
England, Italy
Sara Williams
Global Women's Strike, Spain
Steven Porter
Independent Venezuela Network, Chesterfield

Others who signed but whose signatures arrived too late to be published in the Guardian:

Estella Schmid, Kurdistan Solidarity Committee, England
Ann-Kristin Kowarsch, Netherlands
Corrinna Lotz, Movement for a Socialist Future, England
Fakra Salimi, MiRa Resource Centre, Norway
Christine Klecha, Frauenforum and Berlin Association of Familywomen & Familymen
Sophia L. Thessaloniki, Greece
Uta Depner, Germany
Kathie Martins
Alan Liddiard
Philip O’Brien
Philippa Willitts
Nicky Melling

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Hide the following 3 comments

Room for many voices

08.11.2004 17:47

Room for many voices

Wednesday October 27, 2004
The Guardian

Women's voices, concerns and organisations were central to the recent European Social Forum. It is a pity that Global Women's Strike are continuing to claim we were silent when women were active participants and organisers of the event (Letters, October 26).
One look at the ESF programme demonstrates the breadth of representation of women's organisations. A big and diverse plenary on "women struggling against oppression" heard contributions from leading women campaigners. Dozens of seminars and workshops, the Women's Assembly, cultural events and speakers across the programme all presented issues of concern to women. These were organised through consensus decision-making at a European level and grassroots proposals from women's groups themselves. Everyone had the chance to be involved.

Barbara Switzer
National Assembly of Women
Anne Kane
Abortion Rights
Kirsten Hearne
Claudia Webbe
National Black Alliance
Megan Dobney
SERTUC Women's Rights Committee
Maureen O'Mara
Milena Buyum
National Assembly Against Racism
Finn Mackay
The London Feminist Network
Caroline Gooding
Trade Union Disability Alliance
Ruqayyah Collector
Women's Representative, NUS Black Students Committee
Diane Langford
Women's Officer, Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC)
Sarah Cartin
Women's Society Officer, Bradford University Student Union
Alex Vincenti
Chair, LSE Women's Forum
Sian Errington
Education and Welfare Officer LSE Students Union


Repeat Post

08.11.2004 18:44

I am sure this is the third time this letter has been posted; I thought editorial policy was not to allow such repeat posts - I guess they are busy and cant be expected to spot everything.

Some of this group, the poster included, are so obviously laying down a marker to gain the upper hand before the ESF organising meeting in December for Greece 2005. Perhaps, the old cynic in me is wrong.

Anyway, women certainly deserve the right to organise themselves, how they want. However, a small minority of women should not have complete control over women's events in the ESF, otherwise they are just on another anti-democratic, SWP control-freakery, self-righteous indignant, hubristic, power drive.

On know. I can see the sexist card being pulled now.



08.11.2004 20:18

Just to clarify, my comment refers to the first letter - old news, repeated post, from another publication that supported the Iraqi War.

I strongly objected to how the ESF was organised, but how many in the first petition/letter actually made an effort to organise the ESF, not many. Forgetabout the politics, at least those in the second did. Please, less disingenuous belly-aching.