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Issue #1446      10 March 2010

Challenges for humanity on IWD 2010

This year’s WA International Women’s Day in Fremantle was organised by the Women’s Activist Network, a diverse collective that had come together to discuss a number of critical issues which were affecting not only the role of women in society but humanity as a whole.

The first speaker was Danielle Senini who is a home birthing activist who believed those women who were normal and healthy in their pregnancy should not need to be using the resources of the medical and hospital system which took away women’s power over their bodies at the time of giving birth. Ms Senini believes that home birthing with a midwife is a much more effective use of resources which empower women and also frees up scarce hospital resources.

The second speaker was Marianne Mackay, an Aboriginal woman and law student from the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee who spoke of the laws and proposed legislation that are increasingly criminalising people.

Western Australia has the highest rates of incarceration of Aboriginal people outside of the Northern Territory. This means that many Aboriginal people are being locked up for relatively minor offences such as defaulting on fines or driving offences. This situation will be added to as the government is intent on introducing its Stop and Search and Prohibited Behaviour Order Laws.

The third speaker was public sector union organiser Clare Middlemass and former women’s officer at Murdoch Guild of Students. Ms Middlemass was concerned about the impact of the policies of privatisation by the current state government of Colin Barnett would have on women - the workers themselves who would be the first in firing line of the human services agencies which the government is seeking to offload.

The fourth speaker was Kamala from the Socialist Alliance and Climate Change Coalition who spoke of the effects which runaway climate change will have on communities but especially women.

The final speaker, Elizabeth Hulm of the Communist Party of Australia, outlined a progressive society where women had been able to achieve significant and lasting gains in equality - in socialist Cuba. Ms Hulm presented statistics which showed comprehensively that women had over the time of the Cuban Revolution not only achieved high participation rates in many of that society’s professions but were also leaders in government where almost 50 percent of elected officials were women.   

Next article –  IWD forum in Sydney

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