[act-ma] 5/23 - Reportback from Women's International Congress in Venezuela

Women's Fightback Network iacboston at iacboston.org
Wed May 16 07:01:35 PDT 2007

The Women's Fightback Network/Red de Mujeres en Lucha*
*and the International Action Center invites you to attend an:*
****Eyewitness Reportback and Video Highlights from *
*The Women's International Democratic Federation Congress (WIDF) *
*held in Caracas, Venezuela in April 2007*
* *
*Wednesday, May 23 - 6:30 PM*
Action Center
284 Amory Street, The Brewery
Jamaica Plain, MA
(2 blocks from the Stonybrook T Stop on the Orange Line)
childcare and refreshments provided
donation requested

*/Hear U.S. delegates:/*
*Berta Joubert-Ceci* - founder of Philadelphia International Action Center,
and Co-Director of People's Video Network who has written extensively
on Latin America. 
*Sara Mokuria* - student, educator and activist, involved in the Committee
for Justice for Hector Rivas, and Keep Assata Free Campaign in Dallas 
*Liza Green* - member of AFSCME and Women's Fightback Network-Boston.  
Under the theme, /"Women of the World: a vital force against neoliberal 
globalization, terrorism and imperialist war; for equality, social and 
economic justice and for peace,"/ more than 1,000 women representing 
organizations from five continents met in Caracas, Venezuela from April 
9 through April 14.  They were joined by thousands of Venezuelan women 
who hosted the 14th Congress of the Women's International Democratic 
Held for the first time in Latin America and in the midst of the 
Bolivarian Revolution, the Congress condemned imperialism and neoliberal 
policies, especially the U.S. war in Iraq.  
On April 13th, a national holiday in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez addressed 
the Women's Congress.  On this same day in 2002, President Chavez 
returned to Venezuela to a hero's welcome following his April 11th
kidnapping by right wing forces friendly to the Bush administration.  
Saluting the women delegates, Chavez said, "Women are the engines that 
fuel the working class struggle."
Hear members of the U.S. delegation share their impressions of this 
historic Congress of Women in Struggle Worldwide.
*Women's International meets in Latin America
By Berta Joubert-Ceci
Caracas, Venezuela

Under the theme "Women of the World: a vital force against neoliberal 
globalization, terrorism and imperialist wars; for equality, social and 
economic justice and for peace," more than 1,000 women representing 
organizations from five continents met in Caracas, Venezuela, from April 
9 through 14. They were joined by thousands of Venezuelan women who 
hosted the 14th Congress of the Women's International Democratic Federation.

This congress, the WIDF's first in Latin America, was of crucial 
importance in coalescing the political line and actions of 
anti-imperialist and revolutionary women who comprise the membership of 
the federation.

The congress was preceded by a two-day Encounter of Young Women---an 
attempt to involve younger women more actively in the federation.

Plenaries and workshops alternated with cultural presentations. Each day 
ended with an Anti-Imperialist Tribune in an outside tent. Some topics 
of the working sessions provide an idea of the discussions held: the 
impact of neoliberal globalization on women; women's struggle and the 
impact of state terrorism, occupation and imperialist wars, and the 
struggle for national liberation; exploitation of women and children, 
with a special emphasis on immigrant and displaced women; building 
international solidarity against political repression and all forms of 
violence against women; defense of Indigenous and African-descendant 
women and their culture and for equality.

A detailed listing and information about the congress and the WIDF can 
be found at www.fdim-widf.com.br.

A special session for women holding government office was held in the 
National Assembly, hosted by Venezuelan socialist parliamentarians under 
the theme "International Meeting of Parliamentarians against Imperialism 
and for Solidarity and Peace in the World."

*History of the WIDF*

It is not accidental that very little is known in the U.S. about this 
federation, which was born to fight against the same imperialism that 
the U.S. leads. On Dec. 1, 1945, right after World War II, women from 41 
countries met in France to create the WIDF (FDIM in Spanish). Many of 
these women had suffered directly from the bloody effects of the war and 
many had struggled against fascism.

Yolanda Ferrer Gómez, general secretary of the Cuban Women's Federation, 
gave a moving statement on the organization's history: "They were 
widows, mothers who had lost their children, former prisoners from Nazi 
concentration camps, combatants who fought alongside men in the 
battlefields, members of the resistance and clandestine movements, 
guerrillas, workers who secured the rearguard and supplied the front, 
fighters all of them in uniform or civilian clothes."

She continued: "With them, women who had fought in other latitudes 
against fascism also united, Spanish exiles, members from national 
organizations from the Americas and Asia, African women, from Arab 
countries, from Indigenous communities, all in solidarity."

They pledged "To defend the economic, political, legal and social rights 
of women; to fight so that the indispensable conditions for the harmonic 
and happy development of our children and future generation are built; 
struggle tirelessly so that all forms of fascism are forever annihilated 
and establish worldwide a true democracy; fight without rest to assure a 
lasting peace in the world."

The WIDF was also enriched by the membership of socialist women from the 
revolutions that later developed in Cuba and Vietnam. The federation has 
played a key role in support of national liberation, such as in Angola, 
and against apartheid in South Africa. It has worked in international 
forums trying to give a more militant direction and has given voice to 
those under the yoke of imperialism, from Palestinians to Iraqis.

The WIDF was especially hard-hit during the 1990s, when the 
disintegration of the USSR and the Eastern and Central European 
socialist countries meant that material support and great theoretical 
and practical contributions so instrumental for the functioning of the 
federation suddenly stopped.

*Crucial role of Cuba*

Vilma Espín---one of four WIDF vice presidents, a combatant in the Cuban 
Revolution, a member of the Central Committee and the Political Bureau 
of the Cuban Communist Party and president of the Cuban Women's 
Federation---played a decisive role in the enormous task of assuring the 
survival and development of the WIDF. Thanks to Cuban action, the 
federation not only survived but thrived as a space of struggle and 
promotion of women.

During the WDIF's 13th Congress held in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2002, Marcia 
Campos from Brazil was elected president. This was the first time a 
woman from Latin America held that post. She had founded the 
Confederation of Brazilian Women and is a member of the Central 
Committee and the National Secretariat of the October 8th Revolutionary 
Movement in Brazil.

The 14th Congress was held in Venezuela to show solidarity with the 
Bolivarian Revolution. But a new phenomenon occurred. The fighting 
revolutionary masses who are transforming this region also came to the 
congress. Many of the organizations present were not yet affiliates of 
the WDIF, but infused the congress with their combative energy. Wanting 
to affiliate and move forward the federation, many representatives spoke 
at the regional work session of the Americas.

There were Indigenous women from the Bolivian Bartolina Sisa Peasant 
Union, Peruvian Indigenous parliamentarians, young women from Puerto 
Rico and Colombian women urging a humanitarian exchange of prisoners. 
Prominent was the participation of Venezuelan women who, as the hosts, 
worked tirelessly to assure the smooth development of the congress and 
in their presentations highlighted the important role and advances of 
women under the Bolivarian Revolution.

The overall experience was tremendous: meeting and sharing with 
revolutionary women from all over the world, listening to their 
countries' struggles, and most important, experiencing the overwhelming 
solidarity among all the attendees and their great respect, admiration 
and gratitude for Cuban President Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President 
Hugo Chávez.

Where else could you hear women from the Sahara thanking Chávez for his 
support of their cause in international forums? The congress gave the 
opportunity to interview many women from different struggles who offered 
their progressive views on crucial current events: women's role in 
Angola's MPLA, South Africa after apartheid, Zimbabwe's land 
distribution, the political view of the Democratic People's Republic of 
Korea, the struggle against Plan Colombia and so much more.

*Delegation from the U.S.*

Many women went from the U.S. The largest delegation was organized by 
African-American artist Vinie Burrows, who is also the WDIF 
representative to the U.N., and the National Women's Fightback Network 
(NWFN) of the International Action Center. The NWFN is now an affiliate 
of the WIDF.

The Burrows delegation included representatives of the Granny Peace 
Brigade and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. The 
NWFN delegation included Susan Abulhawa, Palestinian writer and director 
of Playgrounds for Palestine; Brenda Stokely and Anna Wilson from the 
labor sector; Patricia Dahl, who works in solidarity with Colombia; 
Nellie Hester Bailey, co-founder and director of the Harlem Tenants 
Council; Sara Ann Mokuria, LeiLani Dowell, Liza Green, Jill Hill, Kris 
Hamel, Minnie Bruce Pratt and this writer, all from the NWFN.

The WIDF congress is not simply a "women's issue." As one participant 
said, "Everything and every struggle is of concern to women; we are half 
the world and give birth to the other half." It was a Congress of Women 
in Struggle.


Women's FightBack Network

wfn at iacboston.org

National Office:

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