[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*
284 Amory Street, The Brewery
Jamaica Plain, MA
(2 blocks from the Stonybrook T Stop on the Orange Line)
childcare and refreshments provided
*/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
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 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
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
Women's FightBack Network
wfn at iacboston.org
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