Area:    Feminism
  Msg:    #394
 Date:    12-20-94 16:47 (Public) 
 From:    Randy Edwards            
 To:      All                      
 Subject: GreenLeft: Women & the Po
From: NY Transfer News Collective 
Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
from Green Left Weekly #171 12/14/94

Women and the pope
By Kath Gelber

In January, Australians are to be treated to a visit from the
pope. He's coming over for the beatification of the person
expected to become Australia's first saint, Mary MacKillop.

It's an interesting turn of events, really. In her time, Mary
MacKillop was a rebel, an advocate for the poor and oppressed. She
rejected the rigid confines of the church's hierarchy and set up
her own independent order of nuns. She struggled to bring
education to the poor and set up refuges for single mothers.

Yet now her beatification is being used as a public relations
exercise for the Catholic Church. But just what does the Catholic
Church have to offer women?

For the record:

The Vatican continues to oppose abortion rights for women,
contributing to the deaths of more than 200,000 women per year
from unsafe termination procedures. In order to justify this, the
pope elevates the importance and rights of a foetus over and above
those of women.

The pope continues to oppose contraception, resulting in countless
unwanted pregnancies around the world.

The result of the Vatican's insistence on refusing women the right
to control their own bodies is that other social rights such as
equal access to food, education, health, work and equal social and
political participation continue to be restricted.

Without equal access to all of these, women's needs cannot be met
and women's rights cannot be respected. Women remain vulnerable to
the population control policies of overt right-wing religious
fundamentalists and/or ``population planners'' of the
industrialised countries, who blame overpopulation in the South
for the world's problems and obscure the North's control over the
hugely unequal distribution of the world's resources.

The pope continues to argue against the use of condoms, thereby
contributing to new HIV infections around the world, and enormous
suffering by those affected by the AIDS pandemic. Stigmatising of
people with HIV/AIDS and condemnation of any sexual expression
outside the rigid confines of marriage makes the fight against
HIV/AIDS harder.

The pope continues to condemn lesbians and gay men, and opposes
divorce on any grounds.

On top of all this, the pope continues to oppose the ordination of
women. Yet the majority at the ever-decreasing congregations tend
to be women, many of whom are seeking a church more relevant to
their needs.

While the pope's visit may mean that these issues are temporarily
glossed over, the real story is that the pope has nothing to offer
women. Oh, except perhaps sainthood in a few hundred years' time -
but hey, I'd rather have my rights now.


Six-month airmail subscriptions (22 issues) to Green Left Weekly
are available for A$60 (North America) and A$75 (South America,
Europe & Africa) from PO Box 394, Broadway NSW 2007, Australia
+ 212-675-9690      NY TRANSFER NEWS COLLECTIVE     212-675-9663 +
+           Since 1985: Information for the Rest of Us           +
+ e-mail: [email protected]                   info: [email protected] +

--- Msgedsq/2 2.2e
 * Origin: Socialism OnLine! * Workers of all countries, unite! (1:325/805)

 Area:    Feminism
  Msg:    #395
 Date:    12-20-94 16:47 (Public) 
 From:    Randy Edwards            
 To:      All                      
 Subject: The Cairo Conference & Re
From: NY Transfer News Collective 
Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
from Green Left Weekly #171 12/14/94

The Cairo conference and reproductive rights

One of the more controversial events of 1994 was the International
Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in
September. GISELA DUeTTING, who attended from the Women's Global
Network for Reproductive Rights, based in the Netherlands, gives
an overview of the conference and what it did or didn't achieve.
The article is abridged from the WGNRR newsletter.

Approximately 15,000 people were in Cairo for this UN meeting.
About 4000 of them attended the NGO Forum, which was organised
next door to the official conference.

As coordination staff of the Women's Global Network, we decided to
take part in the NGO Forum to present our point of view on
reproductive rights and population policies, to speak out against
the arbitrary treatment of women's lives and about the real causes
of global problems, from a feminist perspective.

I represented the coordination office at the NGO Forum, together
with Loes Keysers and Judith Richter, who concentrated on the
campaign against the anti-fertility ``vaccines''. At the NGO
Forum, we presented a series of workshops, together with the
Boston Women's Health Book Collective, Womanhealth Philippines and
the Committee on Women, Population and the Environment, titled
``From Malthus to Cairo: What's next?''.

The official preparatory committee meetings (prepcoms) for the
ICPD had culminated in Prepcom 3, which took place in New York in
April. After Prepcom 3, it became clear that in the official
conference in Cairo, a hard battle would have to be fought by
women lobbyists. Although most of the final document (the Plan of
Action) was agreed upon, crucial parts were bracketed - the UN
jargon for ``still to be agreed upon by all''. Reproductive and
sexual rights were still in brackets, abortion, safe motherhood,
but also sustainable development.

As ICPD came nearer, feminist women with outspoken views had a
hard time. In some countries like Chile and the Philippines,
feminists were taken out of the official delegation. Sometimes,
initial liberal government positions were adjusted, especially
under the pressure from the Catholic Church. Last-minute lobby
work and public meetings took place in an effort to influence
public opinion.

Wide range

The NGO forum, held in the Cairo Sports Stadium, included
workshops, information booths and a press room. The NGOs were not
working towards a joint declaration or similar outcome. As a
result, the forum had the feel of a loose mix of organisations
with very little in common. The bulk of NGOs present consisted of
mainstream population and family planning organisations, feminist
groups, women's organisations, religious and ``pro-life'' groups
and some medical organisations.

Different NGO people tended to follow their own ``paths''. If you
were a great believer in population growth reduction, you could
fill your day only with lectures that would reinforce your
opinion. If you were a religious person, you could go from the
religious caucus at 9am to presentations like ``The civilised role
of Islam in family health and women's integrity''. Women could
start with the women's caucus and continue with a more than full
women's program.

Organisations claiming to represent women's interests varied
enormously. Groups presenting workshops ranged from Terra Femina,
the Asian Women Human Rights Council and the Women's Collective of
Matagalpa to the Azerbaijan National Women's Association, the
Islamic Institute for Women in Iran and the Tunisian section of
the World Movement of Mothers.

There was little cross-over between the various streams, let alone
discussion or major confrontations - with the exception of the
occasional Muslim fundamentalist who came into various women's
sessions to loudly announce that these subjects were against Islam
and that women had no problems under Islam.

In general, the NGO Forum was rather dull. Only on Monday, various
women's groups organised a demonstration at the forum entrance. It
was a clear indication that among women's groups, especially
Indian women's groups, there was the disturbed feeling that the
ICPD conference was sliding into a big ``consensus on population

Within workshops organised by women's organisations, a large
variety of topics were covered: human rights and women's rights,
abuse in population policies, reproductive rights and sexual
rights, initiatives in women's health and a wealth of specific

The workshops that the WGNRR presented, together with BWHBC, CWPE
and Womanhealth, were on the population paradigm, women's
reproductive rights and men's reproductive responsibilities, and
on confronting the real issues of over-consumption, the global
economy and militarism. We examined the political economy of
reproductive health/rights and sustainable development, tracing
the history of current ideologies which centre on population and
proposing alternative feminist analysis and models for action.

Changing the agenda

During the daily meetings of the women's caucus, coordinated by
Women's Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO), about 400
people were present, the overwhelming majority women. WEDO would
take all that came out in the women's caucus to the official ICPD.
There the lobbyists did their work. The woman's lobby was
considered by many as one of the most organised and effective at
the ICPD.

The results of Cairo, and how you judge the process and the
outcome, depend very much on your perspective. Ten years ago, in
Mexico, women were very much outside the main conference. Since
then, women have definitely gained profile. At the ICPD in Cairo
and in the Plan of Action, empowerment of women was central.

Many women at the ICPD commented that the major achievement was
that reproductive rights were on the agenda and reproductive
rights language was for the first time officially put forward at
the UN level. Many found that this was a crucial step forward,
albeit not sufficient.

For me the major gain was in the process, specifically the
opportunities created for many women's groups, campaigning at
national level for reproductive rights.

Many people referred to the Cairo forum as a ``success'' for NGOs.
Given the widely varying interests (and political and economic
power) of the NGOs present, the question is: success for whom? Who
will benefit from the gains at international level? When it comes
to implementing the Plan of Action, which elements will take
priority? Will money be made available, and where will it go?

The ICPD was a political conference; a lot of attention and time
went into negotiations on the details of the Plan of Action.
Beneath this focus on letters and words were clashing underlying

A critique of the analysis of population in the document and its
relations with global economic development, poverty, the position
of women and environmental degradation was very much missing. The
criticism of population policies voiced at the NGO Forum gave rise
to a false contradiction between the importance of abortion and
development. This ``false controversy'' did not filter further
into the lobby process at the official conference, which remained
firmly focused on reproductive health within the framework of
population policies.

Therefore, fundamental to any assessment of the ICPD remains the
fact that reproductive rights were subsumed under the heading of
population policies. In the Plan of Action, reproductive health is
still seen within the framework of population policies,
notwithstanding that the target-oriented language finally

I believe that one of the most important agenda points of feminist
groups must be to uphold the empowering meaning of women's
reproductive rights (which includes a continuous critical,
contextualised redefinition).

Forming a broad-based coalition seems another essential step. Such
a coalition can work on what seems most urgent, including:
continuous criticism of population thinking (above all delinking
development, environment and reproductive rights from population
``stabilisation''); developing alternative policy proposals that
include women; and fighting for women's reproductive and sexual
rights and for a gender-sensitive health care approach.

While the abortion debate touched on the core of gender
inequality, the discussion in Cairo distracted public attention
from factors which undermine just, humane development, and
reinforced the so-called solution of fertility control, rather
than rethinking the population question and its development


Six-month airmail subscriptions (22 issues) to Green Left Weekly
are available for A$60 (North America) and A$75 (South America,
Europe & Africa) from PO Box 394, Broadway NSW 2007, Australia
+ 212-675-9690      NY TRANSFER NEWS COLLECTIVE     212-675-9663 +
+           Since 1985: Information for the Rest of Us           +
+ e-mail: [email protected]                   info: [email protected] +

--- Msgedsq/2 2.2e
 * Origin: Socialism OnLine! * Workers of all countries, unite! (1:325/805)

 Area:    Feminism
  Msg:    #396
 Date:    12-20-94 16:49 (Public) 
 From:    Randy Edwards            
 To:      All                      
 Subject: Palestine: Where Now for 
From: NY Transfer News Collective 
Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
from Green Left Weekly #171 12/14/94

Where now for Women in Black?

The signing of the Oslo Declaration of Principles in September
1993 has posed a dilemma for Women in Black, the women's movement
in Israel of Jewish and Palestinian women aimed at stopping the
occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. In October VIVIENNE PORZSOLT
attended a national meeting in Israel of 30 activists. Here, she
describes the discussions that took place on the future for Women
in Black.

The movement began in Jerusalem in early 1988 in response to the
Palestinian uprising, the Intifada. It developed a unique tactic -
a weekly vigil by women dressed entirely in funereal black - which
spread quickly all over Israel until there were weekly vigils in
more than 30 centres.

Without leaders, a hierarchy or formal organisation, women around
the world have been inspired by this style of action for peace.
Women in Black groups around the world, as in Sydney and
Melbourne, have usually addressed the rights of Palestinians. But
sometimes, as in ex-Yugoslavia, local issues have been the focus.
In other parts of the world, the approach has been directed to
peace generally.

While at the height of the Intifada more than 30 groups of women
across Israel held weekly vigils, now there are only two - in Tel
Aviv and Nachshon. It is surprising that there are any at all
given the general view in Israel that peace has broken out.

Some women felt that the government's policies and those of the
peace movement were now in line and there was no more
justification for the vigils.

Others believed that the current process was undermining peace.
They felt the current ``peace process'' excluded Palestinians and
that little had changed in their daily lives. In fact, the closure
of the border between Gaza and Israel has caused widespread hunger
and misery.

Nevertheless, there was a general view that Women in Black had
been successful in several ways: it was a form of protest with
which women felt comfortable; the vigils also made it possible for
women of very different ideologies - Ashkenazi and Sephardi, Arab
and Jew - to work together because the movement emphasised the
things women had in common rather than their differences.

The Jerusalem members have initiated an international conference
to be held in Jerusalem this month. Its aim is to reflect on the
experiences of Women in Black around the world.


An elusive peace for Palestine

NABIHA MORKUS is a Palestinian member of Women in Black and
secretary in Tel Aviv of Democratic Women, which, like Women in
Black, includes both Jewish and Arab women. VIVIENNE PORZSOLT
interviewed her for Green Left Weekly.

Question: How did you come to join Women in Black?

I was waiting for a taxi when I saw a group of Women in Black. I
asked them, ``What is this?'' They told me they were against the
occupation. I thought, ``It's not good to be only Jewish, we must
be together, Jewish and Arab. We live together in the same
country. We are more strong together than separate.''

Question: What has been the Israeli reaction to Women in Black?

When we demonstrate, they scream out abuse and make rude gestures.
They tell us ``Go to your kitchen, you are sluts. You want to
sleep with Arafat.'' Across the street, the right-wing groups as
well as the police sometimes throw stones at us.

After the years of occupation the Israeli people have changed.
They have become violent and look on women as sex objects only.
But we women can do more than bring children to life. We cannot
watch Israeli television and see the pogroms and the blood and
remain quiet. Also, Israeli women have their children going into
the army.

I travel for half an hour to the demonstration and have done this
for more than five years. For 35 years I have struggled for human
rights, for my people. I think my children think I am not a good
mother because I leave them. But what can I do? I cannot be quiet.

I am against killing by everyone. This is not the way to make
peace. If the Palestinian people are killed or throw stones, the
Israeli media, always, always says, ``They are terrorists''. But
the Israeli army kills thousands of children.

Yet after only two to three months of the Iraqi occupation [of
Kuwait], the world, led by the USA, launched a war and that
occupation finished in a short time. But in Israel, the occupation
has continued for more than 27 years. Why? You know the Jewish
food [distinctions] kosher [clean] and tref [unclean]. If the
Iraqi occupation is tref, is the Israeli occupation kosher?

Question: How did you feel when the Oslo Accords were signed?

I remember we felt very, very good. We thought this would be the
end of all our problems. But after one year, the Israeli soldiers
remain in parts of Palestine. Why do they stay in Jenin, Nablus,
Jerusalem and all of the West Bank? Why do they stay out of only
Gaza and Jericho?

Last week Democratic Women took a big delegation to Gaza with
food, milk for children, medicines and warm clothes. At the Erez
border control, the Israel soldiers didn't want us to give our
friends these things. I asked them why when the Palestinian
government wanted us to come.

I told the soldiers: ``Why do you make peace only on paper? To
tell the world that Israel makes peace with the Palestinian
people? The Palestinians need this rice, sugar, milk and oil
because the Israeli government won't give them anything.'' They
left the land there very poor. Every month we take food even
though we don't have enough ourselves. I tell the soldiers, ``If
you make peace it must be real peace. Not just on paper.''

Arafat wants to make a wall for fishing boats. He needs rocks to
build a marina [to protect the boats] but in Gaza there is only
sand. Only in Hebron [are there rocks], on the other side of
Palestine. The soldiers won't let him bring them [to Gaza]. He
must give people some work in order to eat. We stayed four hours
on the border.

If the Israeli government continues its policies in the same way,
maybe Hamas, the fundamentalists in the West Bank and Gaza, will
grow stronger than the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. Then
we will have a very dangerous problem. I think that the Israeli
government must make peace quickly and stop its occupation of the
West Bank. If there are elections now Hamas could possibly take
more than half [the vote].

Fundamentalism is very dangerous not only for Christians or
Communists, but for their own people and women especially. They
want to take women back more than 200 years; they want us all to
wear veils and purdah.

Question: Do you think the Palestinians will have an independent
state in the future?

I hope that my people get their rights and live in their state
like the Jews in Israel. They stopped the Intifada, but it may be
resumed if the Israeli government doesn't help.

The decision at the Paris meeting at which countries were to give
money to the Palestinians was reversed by the Israeli government
because Arafat wanted part of the money for Jerusalem. Why do they
think all Jerusalem is for them? They don't know that the
Palestinians and the Arabs also have a place for their people? I
think that if the Israelis want to live a quiet life in the
future, they must be a good neighbour in the Middle East.

Soldiers, shooting and war cannot achieve peace. Only with peace
meetings can you have peace.


Six-month airmail subscriptions (22 issues) to Green Left Weekly
are available for A$60 (North America) and A$75 (South America,
Europe & Africa) from PO Box 394, Broadway NSW 2007, Australia
+ 212-675-9690      NY TRANSFER NEWS COLLECTIVE     212-675-9663 +
+           Since 1985: Information for the Rest of Us           +
+ e-mail: [email protected]                   info: [email protected] +

--- Msgedsq/2 2.2e
 * Origin: Socialism OnLine! * Workers of all countries, unite! (1:325/805)