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Issue #1446      10 March 2010

IWD Forum in Perth

Around 40 people, women and their supporters gathered at the Maritime Union of Australia in Perth to commemorate the 100th anniversary since the Declaration of International Women’s Day which was accepted by the Second International Socialist Women’s Conference in Copenhagen in 1910.

A panel of five speakers discussed some key issues concerning women today; Elizabeth Hulm of the Communist Party of Australia opened the discussion from the chair on the importance of coming together for this event in a united way. She highlighted the necessity of forming a network of women activists and the formation of an IWD organising committee in Perth.

Elizabeth remembered women activists particularly those from a communist tradition like Katherine Susannah Pritchard and Joan Williams. She recalled that women today enjoy many conditions born out of the struggle of these women and that women now must protect and build on this to ensure their daughters and granddaughters do not inherit lesser conditions.

Danielle Senini who spoke about legislation currently being pushed through the Australian Parliament which will curtail women’s birthing choices. Maryanne Mackay Aboriginal Activist and Death in custody Watch Committee member spoke about mandatory sentencing, the disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal people being jailed unnecessarily for minor offences like failure to pay a traffic fine and the impact this had on their partners, children and whole communities.

Claire Middlemass, union organiser, spoke on privatisation and its impact on women. She addressed the issue of public/private partnerships.

The women present at the meeting were surprised that they were unaware of each other’s stories, struggles and activities which further highlighted the need for a more broad and cohesive network amongst women activists.

The meeting was closed with a call for women to join the newly formed activist network. Proceeds from the meeting are being donated to support the Ampilatwatja community walk off.

For more information on the Women’s Activist Network and to join the network email: iwdperth2010@gmail.com   

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