March 8th Activities
March 8, International Women's Day, was celebrated in many ways in many countries. Perhaps one of the most unexpected actions took place in Norway, where soldiers protested violence against women. Endorsed by the Minister of Defense, the soldiers' campaign was to show solidarity for women in war zones, especially rape survivors in Bosnia. Soldiers in uniform displayed campaign posters, collected money at street stands, and knocked at doors to collect money for women survivors of violence.
In Algeria, women held a public march as a protest against fundamentalist violence. Fundamentalist violence has claimed thousands of lives over the last several years in Algeria, including the lives of women who have refused to dress in ways some Islamic fundamentalists consider appropriate. One recent victim was a 17-year-old school girl who was shot for not wearing a head scarf. The classmate standing next to her, who was wearing a head scarf, was spared.
In Cochin (southern India), as part of WRI's "Crossing the Line", a candlelight march was held with women of different economic classes, castes and religions participating. In Israel/Palestine, women celebrated the opening of "Jerusalem-Link", two centers in East Jerusalem (Palestine) and West Jerusalem (Israel) which promote issues of women and peace. A mixed Jewish and Palestinian "women's protest culture" night of music, poetry and dance was held after a rally and march.
In the Netherlands, volunteers from the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) ran an information table with handouts about the war in Burma. They collected over 100 signatures on special postcards to be sent to the Burmese junta, requesting the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratic leader who has been under house arrest for almost five years. A special window display was made at the IFOR office to celebrate the "Crossing the Lines" campaign. The display highlighted the work of Women in Black (Belgrade), Innu women's resistance against low-level military flights, women's activities in Cambodia, and how FOR women in Uganda are conducting nonviolence training for returning refugees.
If you celebrated the "Crossing the Lines" campaign, please send details to the WRI office so we can spread the news.