Celebrating Women's Struggle


Celebrating Women's Struggles (on the occasion of 100 years of International Women's Day)

Introduction

The International Women's Day on 8th March, 2010 is going to be very significant for the women's movement around the world, and particularly for the women in Bangladesh as it is the completion of 100 years of declaration of the International Women's Day. This Day has become very familiar to the Women's Movement as "Antorjatik Nari Dibosh" and is celebrated all over the country. Women's organizations in Bangladesh are preparing for celebrating the occasion with many events.

The International Women's Day was first declared by German Socialist leader Clara Zetkin at the Second International Conference of Socialist Women in 1910 held in Copenhagen, Denmark. Clara Zetkin's leading role was internationally recognized at the first International Conference of Socialist Women in 1907 in Stuttgart for her contribution towards endorsing the right of women to work, the creation of women’s organizations in all socialist parties and campaigning for women’s right to vote. She was elected secretary of the International Women’s Bureau, and with Rosa Luxemburg proposed to the international socialist movement that March 8 be celebrated annually as International Working Women’s Day.

The declaration of the International Women's Day was international in character to honour the movement for women's rights and to assist in achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries. However, on the day the IWD was declared, no fixed date was selected for the observance of the International Women's Day.

The following year, 1911, IWD was marked by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, on March 19. It was very successful event in the countries it was celebrated. In 1913 International Women's Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Women's Day ever since.

In the Western countries, International Women's Day was commemorated during the 1910s and 1920s, but was dwindled. It was revived by the rise of feminism in the 1960s after a long time. Again, in 1975, which had been designated as International Women’s Year, the United Nations gave official sanction to and began sponsoring International Women's Day and was taken up by many governments. This date is designated in many countries as a national holiday.

Now International Women's Day (IWD) is marked on March 8 every year in many countries of the world. It is a major day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women. However, it must not be forgotten that the idea of having an international women's day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over poor working conditions and lack of rights for women workers.

In Bangladesh, the IWD is celebrated every year on 8th March with rallies and discussion sessions, cultural programmes etc. Women wear purple coloured clothes to mark the day. However, in Bangladesh, the middle class women's organizations took the lead in celebrating women's day. Narigrantha Prabartana since its inception in 1989 has been celebrating the day with the Readymade Garment workers, along with Garment workers organizations. The women workers do not get any day-off for celebrating the day, but now they are allowed to participate in the programmes organized by women's organizations. Narigrantha Prabartana also brings out the issues of rural women, particularly those of women farmers. It has organized South Asian Women Farmers Conference on the Occasion of 8th March, 2003 and a South Asia Conference on Women and Biodiversity on 8th March, 2007.

It may also be mentioned many grass root level NGOs working with rural women are organizing rallies on the occasion of 8th March every year.

Activities for 100 year celebration of International Women's Day

A. PREPARATORY WORKS

The preparations towards the 100 years of International Women's Day Celebration have already started. A series of thematic meetings have been organized to be held every week upto the end of February, 2010. The Themes include: 1. Women workers issues, 2. Agriculture and Biodiversity, 3. Health, 4. Education, 5. Environment and Climate Change, 6. Women's Rights and Women's Struggles, 7. Violence against Women, 8. Employment, 9. Literature and Culture and 10. Technology.

The themes such as globalization will become cross-cutting issues in all themes.

These meetings are held with relevant persons in the women's movement to draw upon the issues of women's struggles, identifying the achievements and the constraints and to sort out the specific demands for discussion in the events on 8th March, 2010. Narigrantha Prabartana is organizing the thematic meetings.

The preparatory meetings are also held with the participation of women's organizations working at the grass roots level and at the district level. A National Organizing committee will be formed at a meeting to be held on 19th January, 2010 in Dhaka.

A National Advisory Committee will be formed with members of women's organizations.

100 YEARS QUILT MAKING:A quilt making programme will start from January, 2010. Women in different parts of the country have taken up the plan to make embroidered designs to express their feelings on women's rights on a piece of yard long cloth.

B. EVENTS for 8th March

The events for the celebration of Women's Struggles will be for three days from 6th March to 8th March.

i. EXHIBITION

Venue: Not yet finalised

Dates: 6 - 8 March, 2010

This exhibition will show women's achievements as well as the struggles that are still continuing. This will be shown through exhibition of publications, photos, movies and any other form of documentation. Women from all over Bangladesh will participate in this Exhibition to show their achievements as well as those struggles that have been done over the 100 years.

Besides women from different parts of the country will be invited to bring handicrafts, food items, clothing and any other materials that have been collected over 100 years since 1910.

The 100 years QUILT will be exhibited in the front of the exhibition Hall.

ii. WOMEN IN BLACK

Venue: Front of Sangsad Bhaban (Parliament Building)

Date: 8th March, 2010

Time: Evening

Women from all over the country and from different organizations are invited to join in this event of Women in Black to celebrate as well as to raise our demands to achieve women's rights.

A woman in Black is an international event organized since 1991. Speaking through silence and stillness, the Women in Black Movement against War and Violence, a worldwide movement for peace, has been brought to various countries of Asia such as India, Nepal Philippines and Bangladesh. As a member of Asian Women's Human Rights Council (AWHRC) and the Secretariat of AWHRC (Bangladesh) Narigrantha Prabartana organized a Women in Black in 2003 in front of Parliament building protesting against Trafficking in Women. NGP also organises women in black on many occasions such as Bhopal day.

iii. ROUNDTABLE

Venue: National Press Club

Date: 6th March, 2010

The Themes that have been discussed since January 2010 in the preparatory meetings will be presented and discussed to have a common Declaration of Women for 100 years and to be submitted to the Prime Minister, Government of Bangladesh on 8th March, 2010 and to relevant UN bodies. The Round table will be a Day long event divided into sessions to discuss the themes. Designated speakers and open discussions will help develop the Declaration of Women for 100 years.

iv. TRIBUNAL

A Tribunal of Women: Testimonies of Struggles

Venue: National Press Club

Date: 7th March, 2010

A Tribunal will be held with testimonies of women's struggles and to raise their issues that are still affecting their lives.

There will be testimonies of struggles that have been won and those that have yet to get any results. In both cases, the focus is more on the struggles rather than the outcome of it.

The struggles that are being chosen for the tribunal is diverse, from urban to rural, and from adivasis, farmers, midwives, workers, middle class working women, house wives, sex workers, etc.

A group of Women juries will be there to give statement after listening to the testimonies.

C. PUBLICATION

Posters, leaflets and pamphlets will be published on the occasion of celebration of 100 years of International Women's Day.

A book will be published on 100 years of women's struggle.

Journalists will be mobilized to publicize the events and to write about women's issues. Few preparatory meetings will be held with the journalists.

PRESS CONFERENCE: A Press Conference will be organised on 5th March, 2010 to declare the programmes and the expectations of the celebrations at the National Press Club, Dhaka

COMMITTEE

A Planning meeting was held on 19th January, 2010 at Narigrantha Prabartana to discuss the plans. A national committee is formed to carry out the event with Farida Akhter as the Convenor and Shima Das Shimu and Sayyida Akhter as Co-Convenors. The members of the National committee include members from women and human rights organisation from Dhaka and from district level organisations. The 22 member committee is composed of Sanjida Khanum, Taskin Fahmina, Ayesha Akhter, Anamika Rema, Jahanara Begum Lily, Fahima Khanum, Josna Begum, Mirza Tahmina Akhtar, Sharmin Kabir Bina, Parveen Akhter, Kawser Parveen, Alo Das, Nasreen Parveen, Manzu Rani Pramanik, Helena Begum, Fahmida Zaman, Maleka Ferdous, Sharifa Bulbul Nigar Sultana, Nazneen Kabeer, Nigar Sultana and Rokeya Begum

An Advisory Committee is also formed to help the National Committee in their plans. They are Prof. Jahanara Huq, Prof. Latifa Akhand, Tahera Begum Joly, Nibedita Das Purokayestho, Riffat Ara Shahana, Munni Shaha Rahima Khatun, and Rehana Siddique



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