“I define peace not as the absence of war, but as the presence of justice and the absence of fear.” Ursula Franklin, (1921-2016)
On International Women’s Day 2017, the 8th March Committee of Women of Diverse Origins invites all women and allies to celebrate women’s resistance to forces that violate their lives and those of their families and communities, their lands, rights and freedoms. Historically, women have been at the forefront in movements and revolutions for positive change – challenging patriarchy, colonialism, imperialism and capitalism.
Among the many women here and around the world resisting inequality and war are Kurdish women who have been courageously struggling for self-determination and against imperialism. In recent years they have been a formidable force fighting ISIS and their struggles have assured them equal standing in the communities. And women in Palestine continue to bear the brunt of the burden of the longest military occupation in history, where surviving each day is an act of resistance against a Zionist apartheid state.
Peace can only come with justice and equality. In Québec and Canada we have been stunned by the mass killing of Muslims in Québec City. But we are not surprised. To score cheap political points, provincial and federal governments, politicians and media have been fanning the flames of xenophobia and Islamophobia for a long time, playing a dangerous game on the bodies of minority women, and in particular Muslim women. And unfortunately racism continues to be alive and well against other marginalized communities, as witnessed by revelations about sexual abuse of Indigenous women in Val d’Or. Or the question of a young black child in Montreal, echoing what he heard in the schoolyard, and asking his father, “Are black people dirty?”
With Trump in the White House, these times are fraught more than ever with insecurities, especially for people already vulnerable and displaced by economic and political marginalization and war – within countries and as refugees. Hard-won gains by the women’s movement are under attack — from reproductive rights to pay equity. But at the same time the blinders are off and neoliberalism and blatant corporate rule over domestic affairs and in support of wars of aggression are clearer than ever before. Projects that displace people, destroy the land and poison the water, such as pipelines and large-scale mining are facing staunch opposition by peoples’ movements where women are on the frontlines of resistance in Ecuador, North Dakota (USA), Barrière Lake (Québec) and elsewhere. People are taking to the streets in huge numbers, with imaginative and creative acts of defiance, disruption and clarity of rhetoric and purpose. Women demonstrated not just in Washington but around the world making it clear, as women in apartheid South Africa declared in the 1980s: “Now you have touched the women you have struck a rock, you have dislodged a boulder, you will be crushed.”
The Trudeau government’s pro-pipeline reversal, backing of on-going settler-colonialism and occupation by Israel, and support for weapons deals with Saudi Arabia has unleashed opposition here in Canada as its election promises are scrapped one after the other. In Québec and Canada we need to assert what we have known for a long time, that for gender equality to exist and thrive we need fair wages ($15 an hour minimum wage), affordable housing, universal accessible daycare, fair migration and refugee policies, and an end to violence against women.
We live in dark times, but are inspired by and celebrate the resistance of women who have gone before. We celebrate the Russian women who 100 years ago during World War I, demonstrated for “Peace and Bread”, a significant precursor to the Bolshevik Revolution. We remember the women of North Bengal (India) who 50 years ago rose up in the Naxalbari peasant uprising against exploitative and oppressive feudal land relations, inspiring successive generations, till today, particularly Dalits and tribals (Indigenous), fighting caste and class oppression. We remember the sisters we lost in the past year – Diana Yaros, Ramani Balendra, Nathalie Moreau, and those further away who were felled by assassins’ bullets in recent years – Berta Caceres of Honduras, Kurdish women shot dead in Paris — Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan, and Leyla Saylemez — and many others. Repressive forces thought they would bury these women, but didn’t realize they were sowing seeds. Their actions and sacrifices have sparked positive change for themselves and their communities. We celebrate them and we celebrate our on-going resistance for peace with justice and equality! Join us !
Conference and cultural presentations
Sunday, March 5, 2-5 pm,
St. Columba House
2366 Grand Trunk (Pt Saint Charles) Métro Charlevoix
Wednesday, March 8 – Assemble 5pm
Place December 6th
(corner Queen Mary & Côte-des-neiges
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/groups/wdo.fdo/