Let’s face it, our current Presidential campaign sucks big time. It’s been reduced to cheap entertainment where misogyny and red-baiting are the order of the day.
I can’t wait for this campaign to end so serious political engagement might seep into our news stories. Hungry for hope, my spirits soared reading recent accounts of women-led protests across the globe. From South America to Poland to South Dakota to Israel, record numbers of women are joining forces to take on their governments. (As I write Iceland has joined the global women’s protest army.)
On Sunday, October 23rd, women participated in a coordinated march in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay and Peru to protest gender-based violence. This movement, known as Ni una menos (“not one less” or every woman’s life matters) has been growing since last May when it was sparked by the brutal murder and rape of a 16 year-old-girl Argentinian schoolgirl.
In Poland women have been marching for the past month to protest their country’s strict new abortion ban, which applies even to cases where fetuses have severe abnormalities. The Catholic Church has offered to pay for baptisms and burials when a fetus that has no chance of survival is carried to term. (How much worse can it get for abortion rights?)
Polish women are marching under the slogan, “We are not folding up our umbrellas,” referring to earlier protests in the rain. Their action for this week will repeat their initial one where women are called on to boycott jobs and classes to take to the streets.
In North Dakota, Native American women leaders have emerged from the Standing Rock action, where their community is protesting the installation of a fracking pipeline because it will pollute their water. These protestors call themselves “the water protectors.”
Long time Native American activist, Winona LaDuke who’s part of the Standing Rock encampment was interviewed last month by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. LaDuke fires back at the oil companies who claim the pipeline promises “energy independence.”
This is not energy independence. Energy independence is when you have solar. Energy independence is when you have wind. Energy independence is when you have some control over your future. That’s what my people want.
At the moment it’s not looking good for the Standing Rock community. On Sunday, October 23rd, police and military tanks charged the peaceful encampment, arresting hundreds and strip-searching them in the process. I fear for a tragic outcome. However, I think the national outpouring of support for Standing Rock’s Native American community won’t go away. Nor will the anti-fracking movement.
I’ve saved the best for last. I couldn’t believe it when I opened my email last week and received a link to an Israeli-Arab women’s peace march. A friend visiting Israel sent this story to me. The US corporate media is so biased in favor of Israel that we get virtually no information about peaceful dissenters there.
Here’s what happened: a little over two weeks ago 4,000 women, half of them Palestinians and half Israeli set out on a two week peace march, titled “Women Wage Peace,” It snaked its way through Israel, entered the West Bank and stopped at the residence of Prime Minister Netanyahu where they chanted demands calling for his government to make peace with the Palestinians. According to onlookers, Netanyahu’s security was so heavy it was almost impossible to see his residence.
I’m dreaming of our own US mass action where women march coast-to-coast demanding social programs for women like government-funded daycare, single payer health care, better schools and more. Women could march as long as they like, picking up cohorts along the way and holding community talks where they stop for the night. The world is showing us it’s up to the women. Come on American women! Get on board!
If you’d like more conversations with like-minded women, we have a Facebook page for you: WOW (Women’s Older Wisdom)