March 14, 2014 - No. 28
International Women's Day
Women Affirm Themselves as Leaders
in the Fight for Rights and Justice
Toronto, March 8, 2014
• Women Affirm Themselves as Leaders in the
Fight for Rights and Justice
No More Missing and
Murdered Girls and Women!
• Memorial Rally for Loretta Saunders Demands
National Inquiry Now!
Federation of Cuban
Women Holds Ninth Congress
• Cuban Women Affirm Commitment to Country's
Leadership and Economic Model
International Women's Day Celebrated
Women Affirm Themselves as Leaders in the Fight for
Rights and Justice
On March 8 women around the world used the occasion of
International Women's Day to take a bold stand to affirm their rights
and take their place as indispensable leaders in the fight for rights
and justice. This year's International Women's Day comes at a time
fraught with insecurity caused by the imperialists'
wrecking of the rule of international law and attempts to undermine
national sovereignty, destroy economies and impose regime change.
Meanwhile, neo-liberal governments around the world attack rights and
impose phony austerity programs in the name of high ideals. Amidst this
situation, the fight of women to
affirm their rights is more important than ever and is essential to the
work for the people's empowerment that will bring about new social and
political arrangements that put human beings at the centre of society's
In cities and towns across Canada, people from all walks
of life participated in great numbers in International Women's Day
rallies, marches and other gatherings. They demanded an end to the
wrecking of the society being carried out by governments at all levels
who refuse to take up their
responsibilities to defend public right. They discussed what measures
are needed to turn the situation around. Many of the actions demanded
that the federal government call a national inquiry into the hundreds
of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls for purposes of
putting an end to these crimes once
and for all.
All in all, the actions showed that women are a force to
be reckoned with. The organized force of women surely has to be
developed and brought to bear in the coming period in the work to
develop the independent politics of the working class, empower the
people and defeat the anti-women, anti-worker, anti-social
Across Quebec on March 8, women marched, spoke out,
exchanged views and reaffirmed their demands for all those things that
permit them to affirm their humanity. They rejected that any limits
should be put on their affirmation of their right to be, as any advance
on the front of women's rights is an advance
for the entire society.
In Montreal, hundreds of women from all walks of life
took to the streets to celebrate International Women's Day. It marked
the 14th year that the March 8 Collective of Women of Diverse Origins
has organized the march. This year, the theme was "Putting an End to
Precariousness in All Aspects of Women's
The demonstrators marched along Sainte-Catherine to
Atwater and then to Phillips Square, making several stops along the
way. In front of Canada Post's offices, they denounced the Harper
government's plans to wreck the public post office. At a Service Canada
office, they condemned the Harper government's
anti-social Employment Insurance reform. It was pointed out how this
reform has impoverished and thrown into the streets more and more
workers, and that it is women who are the first to feel the impact of
reforms. Another stop took place outside a La Senza lingerie store,
where a dance was performed to symbolize
women's resistance and opposition to the commodification,
trivialization and exploitation of their bodies. This act also
expressed the demand to end violence against women and children.
People spoke up during the course of the march to
highlight their concerns and express their opposition to all forms of
insecurity people face. It was pointed out the great insecurity caused
by imperialist wars and rapacious monopolies seeking to control the
planet's resources, spreading poverty and environmental
disasters, and displacing millions of people in their wake. Those who
immigrate to Canada face all kinds of insecurity as well. It was
pointed out how unemployment is twice as high amongst immigrants
compared to those born in Canada, and that many immigrants face a
situation where their credentials are
not be recognized, making them especially vulnerable. Meanwhile,
Canada's labour recruitment policies are aimed at having a workforce
that is increasingly precarious and unable to affirm its rights. It was
pointed out that since 2008, Canada has been receiving more temporary
foreign workers than immigrants. Furthermore,
many immigrants are forced into the underground economy and become easy
prey for agencies and employers that seek to lower wages. Another
situation is that of women who are financially dependent on their
spouses, making them vulnerable to abuse and violence. Another
important demand raised was for justice
for the hundreds of missing and murdered Aboriginal girls and women.
At the end of the march, everyone paid tribute to the
struggles of women around the world to fight for security, an end to
exploitation and oppression and for a world that meets the needs of all.
More than 1,500 people participated in the International
march and rally in Toronto under the banner "Women Taking Power." The
day's events began with the Mary Spratt breakfast organized by the
steelworkers to honour women workers. The rally, which followed,
addressed the demand for
a $14 minimum wage now, the impact of cuts by all levels of governments
to public services, particularly on women and their children, the
difficulties faced by the many women who are precariously employed, and
the benefits unions provide to women. Among the issues addressed were
the municipal elections that
are taking place this year, that women have to find a way to change
the direction the city is taking, and that both provincial and federal
elections are imminent, and that it is urgent that Harper be defeated.
The rally was followed by a march through the streets of
Toronto. Banners, slogans and
placards reflected the demands for regulated child care, an end to the
Temporary Foreign Worker and Live-in Caregiver Programs, and an inquiry
into the missing and murdered
Aboriginal women. The day's events concluded with a women's fair at
International Women's Day in Calgary was vigorously
celebrated with several events on March 6. A Community Fair and noon
hour rally were held at the Jack Singer Hall, EPCOR Centre and in the
close to three hundred women gathered for the Annual International
Women's Day Potluck Celebration. On
March 8, youth-led interactive celebrations of women and girls were
held at select Calgary Public Libraries, in partnership with the YMCA,
and the Calgary Immigrant Women's Association.
The theme for the March 6 potluck held was "Inspiring
Change." The potluck brings together working women, indigenous women,
young women and seniors to discuss what their collectives are doing and
what women and the society are facing. The guest speaker for this
year's celebration was Autumn Eaglespeaker
of the Kainai Nation, who is active with Idle No More.
Autumn explained why Idle No More was founded in the
fall of 2012 by four women from Saskatchewan -- three indigenous and
non-indigenous -- to inform Canadians about the Harper government's
omnibus bills that assault First Nations sovereignty and accelerate the
destruction of the environment and the
democracy. She reiterated the call for the government to take
responsibility for the hundreds of missing and murdered mainly
Aboriginal women in Canada, by not only calling for a national inquiry
implementing a national action plan. She detailed the ways the Harper
government violates First Nations' sovereignty,
including through the First Nations Education Act. She said
that sadly not only had Harper been brought to the high school of the
Kainai Nation to announce this Act but that Idle No More activists were
forcibly removed from the meeting. The essence of her message to
gathering was that women
need to use their voices to inspire change in others, that the message
is clear -- take action and use your voices, join or organize a
protest, and find ways to empower others to make change.
Musical performances further enlivened the evening,
including songs that opposed fracking and the Harper dictatorship and
its incursions into Treaty 7 land.
A lively march took place on March 8 in Edmonton
to celebrate International Women's Day. The lead banner "Women's
Dignity Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All" expressed the spirit
of the day's events, considered by all a success, which brought
together women in the forefront of the fight
for the rights of all, to affirm those struggles and exchange
Emcee Merryn Edwards welcomed everyone and Métis
elder Gloria Laird opened the day's events. This was followed by
greetings from MLA Rachel Notley and a musical performance, and then
the march got underway.
A public forum was held following the march, which began
with Edmonton signer-songwriter Maria Dunn leading the singing of Bread
and Roses. Well-known local activist Peggy Morton introduced the forum.
Whether it is the workers fighting for their rights and against
austerity, the demand to end violence against women,
or demand for new nation-to-nation relations between Canadians First
Nations and Métis, we must be able to enforce our No! in order
that our Yes! can also have meaning, she said.
Elisabeth Ballerman, President of the Health Sciences
Association of Alberta spoke about the fight to defend public sector
pensions and expand pensions to provide security in retirement for all.
Carrie-Lynn Rusnak, Vice-President of the Alberta Union of Provincial
Employees spoke about the battle against the
imposition of Bills 45 and 46 and the government's use of dictate
instead of negotiations. Bena Buttery from the Canadian Union of Postal
Workers spoke about the campaign to defend the public post office
Canada Post's privatization drive and plans to end door-to-door
Shannon Houle, a Saddle Lake First Nation
Councillor, explained that she stood up to oppose the imposition of the
Nations Education Act when Harper came to Alberta to make the
announcement. Aboriginal people have an education system that honours
who we are, she said, and we refuse
to be silenced when a system that oppresses us is imposed on us.
Erin Marie Konsmo from the Native Youth Sexual Health
Network said that International Women's Day is not just one day, but
every day when women are on the front lines defending our land, our
territory and our bodies. We are resisters of state violence including
the violence that indigenous women face
from the police.
Migrante Alberta, a Filipino migrant/immigrant advocacy
organization that defends the rights of the many Filipina women who
work under difficult conditions as live-in caregivers, amongst others,
also sent greetings to the forum.
Women from many walks of life organized events to
celebrate International Women's Day in Vancouver. The Vancouver and
District Labour Council Women's Committee held a dinner on March 7 with
the theme "Celebrating Women Making Change -- Idle No More." The
Vancouver International Women's Day Committee also held a meeting on
March 7 with the theme Women Leading the Way. On Saturday, March 8 a
demonstration in downtown Vancouver of more than 100 activists defied
On March 8, the First Secretary of the Cuban Embassy in
Canada, Mrs. Miraly González González and member of the
Cuban Women's Federation (FMC) spoke on the role of women in Cuba at a
meeting organized by Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with
Cuba. The Ambassador of Cuba His Excellency Mr. Julio Garmendia
Peña also participated.
The First Secretary said the liberation of women in Cuba
was the "revolution within the revolution." Today women comprise more
than 80 per cent of medical researchers, and occupy leading positions
every sector and branch of government. She also highlighted the
role of Vilma Espin, who in 1960 founded the FMC and served as its
tireless leader until her death in June 2007.
At International Women's Day forums in Surrey and
Vancouver on March 6 and 7 Maria Conseuelo Ledesma, member of the
peace-negotiation panel of the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines, together with Nahla Abdo,
a Carleton professor and U.S. human-rights activist Roxanne
Dunbar-Ortiz spoke under the banner "Towards Our Liberation:
Women Struggle for Social and Economic Justice." more than 200 people
the Vancouver discussion which emphasized women's resistance to the
neo-liberal politics of imperialism.
See also TML Daily,
2014 - No. 24, published on the occasion of this year's
International Women's Day:
New York City
9th Congress of Federation
of Cuban Women.
The FMLN government
signs pact affirming the civil and political rights of
International Women's Day rally, March 4, 2014,
of the Chinese People's
Consultative Conference (CPPCC), March 8, 2014 session.
No More Missing and Murdered Girls and
Memorial Rally for Loretta Saunders Demands
National Inquiry Now!
Hundreds of people participated in a memorial rally for
Loretta Saunders on Parliament Hill March 5, organized by the Nova
Scotia Native Women's Association and members of Loretta's family,
which renewed the call for a national inquiry into the disappearances
and murders of Aboriginal girls and women. Loretta was a 26-year-old
from Labrador and a student at St. Mary's University in Halifax doing
her thesis on the murder of three Aboriginal women from Nova Scotia.
Loretta was killed February 13, the same day that the Native Women's
Association of Canada presented a petition with 23,000 signatures to
Parliament demanding that a national inquiry be held.
Speaking at the rally, Loretta's cousin Holly Jarrett
said that on behalf of Loretta's family in Happy Valley-Goose Bay,
Labrador she wanted to send a message to the Canadian government that
they must take action. "We must not let this happen again without our
government putting some serious effort -- not
simple placating gestures -- into a public inquiry," she urged. She
demanded answers from the Minister of Status of Women Kellie Leitch as
to "why this government thinks it's okay to allow our women to be
murdered at a rate of five to seven times higher than that of any other
demographic in Canada."
Cheryl Maloney, President
of the Nova Scotia Native
Women's Association, reiterated the need to carry on the work that
Loretta was doing on the disappearances and murders of Aboriginal women
saying that "Maybe it wasn't up to one person to finish Loretta's
thesis, ... Maybe it was up to all of us as
The calls for a national inquiry, which were reiterated
in the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples, have now been rejected outright by the Harper government. A
parliamentary report tabled March 7 made 16 recommendations which it
states are intended to address the violence
faced by aboriginal women in Canada, but did not recommend a national
inquiry. Speaking to the report in the House of Commons, Minister of
Justice Peter McKay stated, "I do not want to stop the action and the
forward-looking policies of this government to stop and have an
inquiry.... I want to say we will keep
doing what we have been doing." What they are doing, according to
McKay, is strengthening the criminal justice system.
Loretta's sister is organizing a nationwide candlelight
vigil to honour her sister and other women who have fallen victim to
violence on March 27 at 8 pm. Her call was immediately taken up by
people from cities from St. John's
and Halifax, to Oshawa, Ottawa and Fort McMurray.
Federation of Cuban Women Holds Ninth
Cuban Women Affirm Commitment to Country's Leadership
and Economic Model
The Ninth Congress of the Federation of Cuban Women
(FMC) took place from March 7 to 8 at the Havana Conference Centre. The
delegates to the national congress discussed issues related to the role
of women in the society. The Cuban Federation of Women brings together
more than four million
women over 14 years of age from all parts of the country.
Prior to the Congress assemblies were organized at the
level of local delegations, municipalities and provinces at which
members of the Federation debated their concerns and the initiatives
they would take to put their organization at the centre of the social
and economic transformations underway in the country.
On March 7, the first day of Congress, the
gathered in working commissions. These
included three working commissions, related to the values the
FMC defends, educational work, image and presence of women, and the FMC
in the media. Elections were also held
March 7 for the national committee and leadership of the FMC.
The plenary session on March 8 debated the central
report to the Congress and the conclusions reached at the commissions
the previous day. The presentation of the National Secretariat and
Committee of the Federation also took place on March 8.
Teresa Amarelle was elected as the organization's
General Secretary and presented to the Congress during the closing
ceremony. She affirmed the commitment of Cuban women to the country's
leadership in the construction of socialism and their support for the
process of updating the country's socioeconomic model to strengthen its
prosperity and sustainability. In order to advance this work, she
out, the Cuban Women's Federation needs to increase the quality of the
political and ideological work within the organization, taking into
account the members' contributions from their
homes and workplaces, including those in new forms of private and
cooperative management being promoted by Cuba, she said.
The participants expressed their solidarity with all
women worldwide who are still demanding gender equality and full
inclusion in their societies. They noted that in Cuba, women's
integration in all activities is a result of women's longstanding
tradition of struggle from colonial times.
During the plenary session, FMC members approved the
documents that will govern the work of the organization until 2015. The
FMC also demanded the immediate release of all the Cuban Five
anti-terrorist fighters unjustly imprisoned in the United States.
Speaking at the closing session of the Congress,
President Raúl Castro stressed Cuba's pride in its women.
The President also referred to the progressive change of thinking
regarding women's inclusion, gender equality and women's empowerment in
Cuba since the triumph of the revolution on January
In the keynote speech of the closing session, Cuban Vice
Ramón Machado Ventura stressed the high level of participation
and integration of Cuban women in the country's activities, and the
importance of the FMC in the eradication of negative social conduct by
working directly with families and communities. He added
that the main task of the organization is to contribute to the defence
of the Cuban Revolution from constant foreign attacks.
Left to right: Cuban Vice
President José Ramón Machado Ventura, FMC General
Secretary Teresa Amarelle
and Cuban President Raúl Castro.
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