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March 8 Activities

March 8, International Women's Day, was celebrated in a variety of ways around the world. In Turkey, the women of Izmir Savas Karsitlari Dernegi (ISKD--the Izmir War Resisters Association) produced Dario Fo's play "The Rape", and held a discussion afterwards with the audience. The women joined with other organizations to march on March 11, rather than March 8, in order to increase participation.

WRI Women's Working Group member Beena Sebastian, Chair of the Cultural Academy for Peace in Cochin, India, organized an Indo-Tibetan Forum for Women's Human Rights on March 8. The day brought together representatives from Indian women's organizations and Tibetan women exiles in Cochin. Participants drew up a resolution to be submitted to the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing. The resolution states that the Forum was held "to highlight the plight of the Tibetan women who have to face severe stress due to separation from home, family, uncertain income, lack of proper accommodation, unsettled future, etc. Women in general face a lot of discriminatory practices--it is more so if one is living in exile as the Tibetan women." It calls upon the Beijing conference to protect the human rights of women.

At the UN World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen, the US President's wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, announced that the US will spend US $100 million over the next 10 years to improve women's education in less developed countries. The Summit itself announced a world literacy campaign for women as a first concrete step towards eliminating poverty. Outside the Summit, women activists began a hunger strike to demand an end to poverty and debt relief. The UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros Ghali, also announced that the UN plans to increase the number of women employed at the UN to 35 percent by the end of 1995.

In Rwanda, women commemorated March 8 by remembering the victims of the country's deadly civil war. Many Rwandan women are survivors of war rapes. In South Africa, a driver of a truck displaying a Hustler pornographic magazine sign showing naked women was arrested, while in Mogadishu, hundreds of women demonstrated, demanding peace in Somalia.

In Taiwan, members of the Women's Party celebrated with a public ceremony marking the day and the founding of the Women's Party. The Women's Party also nominated for its candidates for Taiwan's first presidential election next year: Chen You-chun and Li Mei-lien for President; and Hsiao Hsiang and Wang Chao-ying for vice president. In Mongolia, the 76-member parliament passed a law at end of February which merged International Women's Day with Children's Day on June 1. Gandi, one of the three women members of Parliament said, "I am totally against this change. Women should not be seen as mothers only. We should keep this day as a symbol of our demand for equality, but we have become the minority of the minority." The move was allegedly to curb increasing alcoholism by cutting the number of holidays that provide opportunities for heavy drinking.

Last but not least, in Scotland, the prestigious newspaper "The Scotsman" renamed itself "The Scotswoman" for the day. It was the first time such a name change had happened in more than 100 years of the newspaper's existence.