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Current feminist issues : conquering our differences to create real solidarity


Public Discussion on Feminisms, Division and Solidarity

February 9, 2010 from 18h to 21h

Université du Québec à Montréal  [UQAM(room tbc)

Political discussion with a presentation by Alexandre Baril and Janik Bastien Charlebois.  Refreshments available / Free event open to all.

The feminist movement is plural : it is composed of several waves and organizations that sometimes rally together (around abortion and violence issues for example) and sometimes oppose each other (sex work/prostitution, transidentities, non-mixity etc.)  However, our enemies are common ones : sexism, first of all, but also racism, classism, heteronormativity (lesbophobia, homophobia, bisphobia...), etc.  It would therefore be very advantageous for us to unite our forces and energies, while respecting our differences.

The divisions within the feminist movement weaken us, slow us down, and can often cause confrontation, sometimes violent, between perspectives.  This energy should be refocused on the fight against various forms of oppression instead of being used to reconstruct power dynamics within our own networks.

Moreover, the domination of a single feminist perspective sometimes hinders us from considering all aspects of an issue before forming an opinion.  In the same way, certain groups of women can find themselves unheard, and therefore excluded.

Whereas today everyone can agree that identities are plural (defined by sex, sexual orientation, class, ethnicity, etc.), it is often more difficult to accept that one person can subscribe to multiple feminist theories.  Thus we often think that we have to subscribe to one wave of feminism, as well as all of its political positions.  However just like identity, our theoretical and political identity can be multiple (being a radical feminist AND queer, for example).

There are feminist perspectives that propose this kind of openness, this eclecticism : a feminist à la carte of sorts!

PolitiQ (website) wishes to open the debate on this subject and work towards the future of inclusive feminism.

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National Young Feminist Leadership Conference

Registration for FMF's 6th annual National Young Feminist Leadership Conference is now open!  Join them March 20-22 to network and share feminist organizing strategies with hundreds of activists, including top feminist leaders in advocacy organizations, universities, public office, and more.

The event will be focusing on domestic and global repro rights and health, anti-abortion harassment and violence, gender-based violence, the legislative process, and other critical topics at this 2-day conference.  Then join the event staff and other attendees on  Monday 3/22 for a Congressional Day of Action and tell your members of Congress what issues are important to you!

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"My parents and neighbours are still not convinced I am no longer a prostitute"

ISIOLO, 7 January 2010 (PlusNews) - Everlyn Masha Koya, 22, is a sex worker-turned-peer educator in Isiolo town in Kenya's Eastern Province.  Now the owner of a successful small business, she told IRIN/PlusNews about the extreme poverty that drives many young women in the region into sex work.

"I still remember the release of my primary school exam results in January 2007 - it was a brief moment of joy but also marked the end of my dreams to either be a teacher or a nurse, because although I scored the highest among all the girls in my school, my parents were too poor to send me to secondary school.

"After that, my parents and brothers changed the way they treated me at home - they became harsh and hostile, accusing me of idling.  They instructed me to go out and look for work. When the situation at home became unbearable, I moved out and joined a group of girls who had hired a room in Isiolo - they introduced me to sex work.

"I still remember the first night I ventured into Isiolo town to look for a client, it was not easy... I was required to pay KSh100 [about US$1.30] to some boys who patrol the town at night.  For almost three years I served many men; my clients included the police, army, bandits and robbers, truck drivers and even men whom I suspected were mad.

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Celebrating CEDAW - Youth Essay Contest: "We Can Change…"

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of CEDAW

"We Can Change..." Youth Essay Contest

CEDAW promises women of the world their human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Yet in many countries this remains an elusive dream.  How and what can we change to "ensure the equal rights of men and women to enjoy all economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights" as envisioned by the Convention?

We invite young people around the world, especially in developing countries, to share their ideas.  What is the most important issue affecting women's lives in your country, and what solutions do you propose?  Submit your short, original essay for the chance to win valuable prizes and to get published on the WLP website!

To enter, email your completed essay to with the author’s name, age, country, and email address.  Please write "Essay Contest" in the subject line.

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Reporting gender based violence: A handbook for journalists

Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa has launched a new handbook for reporters to support sustained media coverage of gender-based violence beyond 16 Days of No Violence Against Women and Children.

Download report here (.pdf)

Violence against women persists in every country in the world as a pervasive violation of human rights and a major impediment to achieving gender equality. (U.N. Secretary General's study on violence against women, October 2006).

Every day and everywhere women are killed in sex-related crimes and just for the sake of being women. In recent years, women’s movements from different countries have been denouncing femicides, a concept that aims at accounting for the specific nature of these crimes as well as for their being sexist crimes.

"The same as with the concept of violence towards women, this concept has been coined as a result of new approaches, a new understanding of practices that are not new at all.  While the concept of sexist violence has been used for several decades, the concept of femicide is more recent: it questions those arguments that tend to excuse perpetrators and consider them as being ‘crazy’ or to regard these murders as ‘passionate crimes’, or else to undermine their importance in the case of conflict or war situations, as if these contexts by themselves could be justifying the violation of the most elementary social rules." (Silvia Chejter, "Femicidios e impunidad", 2005)

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Maasai warriors take on AIDS

It is not easy to tell morans to leave their girls, because they pass time talking about girls and sex, but today they know that condoms can protect them against HIV


MAGADI, 29 December 2009 (PlusNews) - Attempts to promote HIV awareness among Kenya's Maasai community have often foundered on the community's unwillingness to accept externally driven change; but a new initiative is using Maasai 'morans', or warriors, to spread the word.

"The Maasai are very traditional people and the best way to reach them is to go in without trying to dilute their culture - we give them free space to learn by using cultural systems to integrate reproductive health education," said Peter Ngura, programme manager for a nomadic youth project of the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), a health and development NGO.

"We train 'morans' as peer educators and use them to reach out to their fellow 'morans' because these are the only people culture allows them to interact freely with," he added. "'Morans' will only listen to their 'moran' chiefs and this is the reason they are the people we train to train their fellow 'morans' who are under their command."

'Morans' form an age set of male youths aged from the mid-teens to the mid-twenties; they have a duty to protect their community and livestock assets, and during this phase they are encouraged to have multiple affairs. 'Morans' spend much of their time in the bush, where they are largely isolated from the rest of their community, only interacting with girlfriends, elders and chiefs who visit them to impart traditional Maasai wisdom.

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Together for Transformation: A Call to Men and Boys

Gender lies at the root of war and peace and it is increasingly being recognized that issues of masculinities need to be addressed in the field of peacebuilding and active nonviolence.  WPP is convinced that in order to transform cultures of war and violence, women peace activists need to work together with male allies on these issues. In light of this analysis, WPP has organized the Training of Trainers Program “Overcoming Violence - Exploring Masculinities, Violence and Peace”.

The first part of the ToT took place from November 30 till December 12, 2009 in The Netherlands, and brought together 19 pioneering activist men, from 17 different countries.

The training focused on gender-sensitive active non-violence, the theory of masculinities and its relation to violence, and participatory and gender-sensitive facilitation.

The rich exchange of strategies and cultural practices related to peacebuilding, active nonviolence and issues related to masculinities and femininities has been an empowering experience for all.  During 2010, the WPP will be intensively working together with the trainees while they are preparing their community projects and follow-up trainings in their home context.  All these activities include working together with female allies for gender-sensitive active nonviolent peacebuilding.  Mid – 2010, the 19 trainees will participate in a second Training of Trainers as to exchange knowledge and experiences, and consolidate the learning into a training manual.

A first powerful outcome of the training is a statement produced by the ToT trainees to affirm their commitment to gender-sensitive peacebuilding:

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Colombia Diversa To Accept 2010 Felipa de Souza Award

The 2010 recipient of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission's Felipa de Souza Award is Colombia Diversa. IGLHRC’s Felipa de Souza Award recognizes the courage and effectiveness of groups or leaders dedicated to improving the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) and other individuals stigmatized and abused because of their sexuality or HIV status.

Based in Bogotá, Colombia Diversa is an NGO that works for lesbian, gay, bisexuals, and transgender human rights in Colombia. Colombia Diversa has improved the lives of Colombian LGBT people through a variety of channels, working effectively in political, social, cultural and academic spheres. They have produced human rights reports and training materials for journalists, teachers, and government officials, created an on-line virtual LGBT community and implemented wide-ranging advocacy campaigns to achieve legislative change.

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VICTORY!! over “Kill Gays, Kill Blacks” Group!

This morning, I received a notice from the Gay Liberation Network -

White Star Night Club
CANCELS Performance by Neo-Nazi Band
“Evil Incarnate”!

Band had boasted that “N----r lovers and faggots, Bullets in your head”

Activism – getting involved in your community – has once again won an important pro-gay victory.

Yesterday the promoter of a multi-band show scheduled for this Saturday at the White Star Night Club confirmed with the Gay Liberation Network that he has canceled the performance by neo-Nazi band “Evil Incarnate.”

Therefore our protest, previously scheduled for 6 PM this Saturday, December 19th, is CANCELED.

Our thanks to White Star management for agreeing not to provide a venue for a group that calls for the murder of African Americans and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans people.

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Congolese lady revolutionizes journalism to promote women's rights

Written by Alison Walkley [Cocorioko]

Thirty-one-year-old Chouchou Namegabe is revolutionizing journalism in her native country of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the face of a patriarchal countrywide mindset, a small amount of funding, and even death threats to herself and her team.  Namegabe has been brought to the United States by the Vital Voices Global Partnership to spread her story and raise awareness about rape and her fellow women in the DRC. Vital Voices is “the preeminent non-governmental organization that identifies, trains and empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the globe, enabling them to create a better world for us all,” as attests. To date, they have trained over 7,000 women in leadership who have gone home to train another 200,000 women themselves.

Namegabe is one of those women. She hails from the South Kivu province of the DRC, where she has personally witnessed the systematic rape and violence against her Congolese sisters as a war strategy. Instead of merely massacring villages, droves of AIDS-infected soldiers have been sent into communities to systematically rape all of the women within.

Namegabe became interested in radio and journalism as a result of these atrocities occurring all around her. For her, the radio became the best method to spread the word about these problems, especially considering the illiteracy of the majority in the Congo.

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