What Italy Can Learn From its Women’s Soccer Team

Where male-dominated soccer, politics and the economy thrive in the cult of individualism, the women work in solidarity with each other, like workers of days gone by, says Attilio Moro.

By Attilio Moro 
in Brussels
Special to Consortium News

Having lost models of alternative values and ways of life to the religion of neoliberalism, these days Italians – and mainly the Italian Left – were content watching the matches of Italy’s national team in the women’s soccer world cup. The team won almost every match, while the national government is losing almost all of theirs: zero growth, rampant crime, dirty cities, huge public debt, high unemployment, brain drain, widespread corruption, even in the judiciary, as recently turned out.

While the female footballers were united in their performance, the central government is divided and ineffective. The former displayed loyalty to each other, while every day the leaders of the two parties allied in the government stab each other in the back.

Feeling ostracized by his European partners, Matteo Salvini – the de facto prime minister of Italy – has turned to Washington, to seek Donald Trump’s protection (odd for a “sovereignist”), just as the ‘Brexiters’ are doing. Meanwhile the Italian soccer club met their adversaries with dignity.

Their male colleagues, the team of the “Azzurri”, are among the best paid soccer players of the world, as Italian politicians are. But both perform badly (the Italian male soccer team has not won anything in years and the most popular and long-lived post-war politician has been media magnate Silvio Berlusconi.)

The women perform for their nation for very little money (their salary does not exceed 50,000 Euros per year, every thing included). Where male-dominated soccer, politics and the economy thrive in the cult of individualism, the women work in solidarity with each other, like workers of days gone by. The women don’t usually pretend to be seriously hurt– as their male colleagues do – every time they fall. They don’t play the victims. They know what they want: to win. But not at all costs. Every time they did, until they were eliminated in the quarterfinals by the Netherlands on Saturday, they burst out in joy and hardly believed it.

This is sport as it ought to be. As it may have been before it became Big Business: human beings aware of doing something extraordinary and being proud of it. The other female national teams taking part in the Cup behave the same: with ability, technique and grace. With no hubris and blind aggression from too much money, the women’s team enchanted Italy and the world.

Maybe it won’t last: sooner or later money could also flood women’s soccer and change its philosophy and values. It would be sad. Italians would lose one of the few popular models that give them hope. But for now, in this critical period of its recent history, the women of the soccer squad are a precious asset and a model for the country.

Attilio Moro is a veteran Italian journalist who was a correspondent for the daily Il Giorno from New York and worked earlier in both radio (Italia Radio) and TV. He has travelled extensively, covering the first Iraq war, the first elections in Cambodia and South Africa, and has reported from Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan and several Latin American countries, including Cuba, Ecuador and Argentina. Presently, he is a correspondent on European affairs based in Brussels.

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Sweden Reopens 9-Year Old Rape Investigation Against Julian Assange; Seeks His Arrest and Extradition

The Swedish prosecuting authority announced at a Stockholm press conference Monday that Sweden would seek Assange’s extradition from Britain to face investigation on a nearly decade-old allegation of sexual assault. 

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecution, Eva-Marie Persson, said Monday that Sweden would seek the extradition of Julian Assange to face a nearly ten-year old allegation of rape.

Assange is serving a 50-week sentence at Belmarsh prison in London for skipping bail in the rape case in 2012. Assange had lived inside the Ecuadorian embassy from June 2012 to April 11 this year, when Ecuador lifted his asylum and allowed British police to enter the embassy and arrest him.

On the same day the United States unveiled a sealed indictment accusing Assange of intrusion into a government computer. The U.S. also filed an extradition request for Assange.

Persson told a press conference in Stockholm on Monday that it would be up to British authorities to determine which extradition request—to Sweden or to the U.S.— would take precedence. She also said she wouldn’t speculate on an extradition request from the U.S. to Sweden since one had not yet been made.  

The BBC reported:

“The decision as to which of the two requests take precedence will be made by UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid. He would make his decision primarily on the basis of which alleged offence was considered to be more serious. Rape is likely to be considered more serious than conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. That would mean ordering Assange’s extradition to Sweden.”

Britain may take the opportunity to wash its hands of the politically thorny case of extraditing a publisher to the United States by sending him to Sweden instead, though Persson said Assange could not then be extradited to the U.S. from Sweden without Britain’s consent. 

Persson said her decision to reopen the case on “probable cause” was based on evidence, which she said was sufficient to suspect Assange of rape.

Swedish authorities had twice dropped the investigation. The first time was just weeks after the allegations were made in August 2010.

An arrest warrant was canceled on Aug. 21.  Then Swedish chief prosecutor Eva Finne said that day: “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape.”

Assange left Sweden for Britain with Sweden’s permission in September.  When he arrived in Britain an international arrest warrant was issued for him on Nov. 18, 2010.

Assange turned himself in on Dec. 7 and was released on bail. He fought Sweden’s extradition requests after Sweden refused to give his lawyers an assurance he would not be then extradited to the U.S.  When his final appeal was lost, Assange asked for and received political asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy. 

Assange said he would welcome Swedish prosecutors coming to the embassy to question him, and prepared a written statement, but documents uncovered in a FOIA request by Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi showed heavy pressure from the British government on Sweden to not come to London.

In 2016, Swedish prosecutors ultimately visited Assange at the embassy and in May of that year ended the investigation, which has now been revived.  At the time the investigation was dropped for a second time, Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape wrote:

“The allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction… The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will. [Assange] has made it clear he is available for questioning by the Swedish authorities, in Britain or via Skype. Why are they refusing this essential step in their investigation? What are they afraid of?”

The statute of limitations on the rape allegation runs out in August 2020.

Persson said the investigation would end after that if no charges are filed against Assange.  The rape allegation was made by Anna Ardin, a Swedish national, who later admitted in a cryptic tweet that she was not raped.  Last month, however, she tweeted:

“I would be very surprised & sad if Julian is handed over to the US. For me this was never about anything else than his misconduct against me/women and his refusal to take responsibility for this. Too bad my case could never be investigated properly, but it’s already been closed.”

Ardin’s lawyers held a press conference at 7:30 a.m. EDT on Monday. Ardin said through her attorney that she was “relieved” that the investigation will be restarted. 

Greg Barns, Assange’s Australian lawyer, tweeted: “Sweden request to re open questioning after closing their files twice is extraordinary. This is abuse of process.”

Catherine Vogan contributed to this article. 

 

 




Mother’s Day: The Obscured Roots of a Global Peace Movement 

Sam Husseini says the origin of Mother’s Day has largely been obscured, helping pave the way for Trump’s embrace of women warriors and bearers of “the next generation of American patriots,” with a hint of the Nazi Mother’s Cross.”

By Sam Husseini
Post Haven
In response to Georgia’s new anti-abortion law, the actress Alyssa Milano ?on Friday tweeted: “Our reproductive rights are being erased. Until women have legal control over our own bodies we just cannot risk pregnancy. JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back. I’m calling for a #SexStrike. Pass it on.” 

The same day, Donald and Melania Trump hosted a celebration of military mothers at the White House.  Said Trump: “To the active-duty moms here today: We thank you for your courage, and we applaud your noble service. You have two of the most important jobs in the world: bravely defending America from our enemies and helping to raise the next generation of American patriots.”

While Trump focuses on Mother’s Day, Milano harkens back to the sex strike in the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes.

The original Mother’s Day Proclamation, written by Julia Ward Howe in 1870, says:
“We will not have questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience. We women of one country will be too tender to those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own, it says ‘Disarm! Disarm!’ The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. … ” 
Howe references Lysistrata in one of her lectures:
“Barring the indecencies which belong to the common taste of the time, and which are largely omitted in translations, the Greek of Aristophanes does not appear to me very damaging to our position as advocates of the rights of women. In one of these plays, Lysistrata, the women of Athens, weary of the absence of their husbands in the Peloponnesian war, take the negotiation of the peace into their own hands. Lysistrata, the leading spirit among them, has summoned together the women from various parts of Greece, with the view of wresting the management of public affairs from the hands of the men entrusted with them and of putting an end to the sinuous and devastating war. Whether intentionally or not, Aristophanes puts very sensible reasoning into the mouth of this leader among the women.”
Part of Lysistrata’s genius is that she reached out to women of other city-states, including Athen’s main rival, Sparta. The sex strike in Lysistrata targeted men on both sides of the war.

At one point in the play, Lysistrata leads a group of women to seize control of the Acropolis, which stores the financial reserves of the Athenian state.  She and a government magistrate are in a stand off. He asks: “Is it money that’s the cause of war?”

Lysistrata avoided arguments which are now commonplace about government having “bungled” its way into war and instead escalates her accusations against the politicians:
“Yes, and all the rest of the corruption. Peisander [a leading Athenian politician, suspected of favoring the war for selfish reasons] and our leading politicians need a chance to steal. That’s the reason they’re always stirring up disturbances. Well, let the ones who wish to do this do what they want, but from this moment on they’ll get no more money.” 
The Mothers’ Cross
Valarie Ziegler, author of of Diva Julia: The Public Romance and Private Agony of Julia Ward Howe, has written:

“Howe, now remembered for writing the words to The Battle of the Hymn Republic,’ was absolutely committed to the Civil War. … But by 1870, she began to look critically at war, particularly at war between nations. By this time, she was also very interested in the women’s movement and women’s suffrage. So, she began thinking of what might be possible for women to do on behalf of humanity. …

“She would in time hold peace conferences both in the United States and in Britain. … And so, Mother’s Day originally was not a day when dad cooked and you went to church, and the ladies got applause and everything. It was really a day for women to come together and to call men and the world to see the necessity for living in peace, rather than giving into the ravages and aggressions of war.”

That origin of Mother’s Day has largely been obscured, helping pave the way for Trump’s pronouncements to embrace women as warriors — and as bearers of “the next generation of American patriots,” with a just a hint of the Nazi Mother’s Cross.”

Milano recently tweeted a 2017 article: History shows that sex strikes are a surprisingly effective strategy for political change.” The piece states: “Calls to end misogyny and sexism will always be necessary — especially while we have a self-admitted ‘pussy grabber’ in the Oval Office. But in order for a sex strike to succeed in the U.S., it must be inclusive, with a specific goal in mind. Otherwise, we’ll just be treading water.”

Treading water seems to be a specialty of politicians. The goal of much of the political establishment is to keep partisan hatred at a sufficiently high level. Among other things, it facilitates lesser-evilism, the dominant tactic of ensuring the bases of each major political party ask preciously little from their party, since the other is deemed so awful. And it usually is.

Defending Biden

Interestingly, Milano had just recently made headlines for defending Joe Biden from charges of sexual harassment. In the 1980’s, Biden voted to let states overturn Roe v. Wade.

But that may seem as long ago as ancient Greece to some.

Certainly, both Mother’s Day and Lysistrata can be criticized for appearing to depict women as wombs or vessels of pleasure. But they are largely about women asserting themselves in the formation of societies. A refrain in Lysistrata is the dumbfounded male reaction: How dare you women assert yourselves on this serious man’s business of war?

The Mother’s Day Proclamation outright challenges the legitimacy of institutions that enable war.

The power of Mother’s Day and Lysistrata are their remarkable universal appeal and connection to the Feb. 15, 2003 global protests against the Iraq invasion — when the peace movement was viewed as the “second super power.” Indeed, Lysistrata was widely preformed widely during the buildup to the 2003 invasion.

The U.S. is at war in so many countriesAfghanistan,SyriaandIraq,Yemen,Libya,Somalia,placing deadly sanctions on Venezuela and Iran and continuously backing Israel’s ceaseless aggressions that it may be difficult to keep up.

It’s like fish and water. You want to know about U.S. and war? You’re swimming in it.

Traditions which might help lead us out of it — like Mother’s Day and Lysistrata — are being obscured by those who would control the culture and, consciously or not, ensuring war’s perpetuation.

Sam Husseini is an independent journalist, senior analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy, and founder of VotePact.org, which encourages disenchanted Democrats and Republicans to pair up. Follow him on Twitter @samhusseini.




A Tale of Two Incarcerated Women

Chelsea Manning has done a great service in finally stripping away the last vestige of excuse from the figures who refuse to support Julian Assange, says Craig Murray.

By Craig Murray
CraigMurray.org.uk

On International Women’s Day on March 8 Chelsea Manning was imprisoned yet again, this time for refusing to testify against Julian Assange before a Grand Jury. Chelsea has already suffered over seven years of total imprisonment – no American had ever previously spent more than three years in jail for releasing government secrets to the public, in a land which had historically valued free speech.

I am in awe of Chelsea’s courage in refusing to testify, and shocked at a system that imprisons somebody for contempt of court for maintaining dignified silence.

Chelsea has also done a great service in finally stripping away the last vestige of excuse from the figures who refuse to support Julian Assange, pretending that they do not believe he faces extradition to the United States, and that the legal issue is not about Wkileaks’ right to publish.

The potential charges in Sweden – always based on quite ludicrous accusations – were dropped years ago after he was finally interviewed in the Ecuadorean Embassy by Swedish police and prosecutors, and it became very plain indeed there was no viable case against him.

Chelsea has gone to prison for refusing to participate in the prosecution of Wikileaks for publishing materials that revealed war crimes in the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Chelsea is a whistlebower, not a publisher. Assange is a pubisher, not a whistleblower. If Assange can be prosecuted for publishing official secrets, then so can every newspaper editor or television editor involved in the receipt of whistleblower material.

There is a massive, a fundamental, media freedom issue at stake here. Even so, the MSM in the UK do not even have the guts to state the truth about what causes Julian to be confined to the Ecuadorean Embassy, let alone to support his right to publish.

Meanwhile in Iran

Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe is in jail in Iran for spying for the British. She is certainly not an MI6 officer, and I can’t see that she would have sufficient access to information to make her of much use as an agent (as MI6 calls its informants). That she was involved in training Iranian journalists or citizen journalists in ways the Iranian government did not like is much more probable, but does not amount to espionage. Even if she were some kind of low level informant to MI6 (which I doubt), the Iranian authorities have sufficiently made their point and it is time to let her go.

The British government’s attitude to this case has been particularly interesting and extremely unusual. I cannot criticise them for the things they have done, because they are the things I used to get frustrated with them for never doing. But their handling of this case is truly out of the ordinary.

The UK allows dual citizenship. It has been longstanding Foreign Office policy that the UK does not give consular protection to UK dual nationals in the country where they are also a national. If the other state does not allow dual citizenship, it might not recognise any British standing in the matter. But there is another compelling reason for the standard policy of not assisting in these circumstances.

When working in Embassies, I used to get infuriated by cases where I wished to help people but was not allowed to, because they were dual citizens. It was explained to me, that if in Nigeria alone we accepted as consular cases all the British/Nigerian dual nationals in Nigerian jails, that would already double the FCO’s entire consular caseload worldwide. To accept dual nationals as consular cases everywhere in their other homeland would increase consular work by a large multiple and require a very large increase in FCO resources.

I nevertheless always felt we could do more. That the British government had, prior to yesterday, already done so much to try to help Nazanin Zagahari Ratcliffe, even though she was an Iranian dual national in Iran, was already extremely unusual. That the UK has now “adopted” the case, raising it to the level of a state dispute, is something not just unusual, but which I don’t think has happened since the First World War. Please note this is not the same process as granting Zaghari Ratcliffe herself diplomatic status, which has not been done.

Again, I can’t criticise the FCO for this, because adoption is something I had urged them to do in a past case while I was on the inside, (shout out to my friend John Carmichael), again being told by the FCO it was not possible as we never do it.

Whether the move is effective or wise in this case, is quite another question. It seems to me likely the Iranians will take it as confirmation that she is a spy. I would urge the Iranian government to take this course; they should now declare the the adoption of the case as a state dispute proves that Zaghari Ratcliffe is a spy, and having been proven right before the world, they will let her go as an example of mercy and compassion.

There are two fundamental points here. The first is that Iran has been subjected for years to crippling sanctions and an international campaign of hate spread by western government propaganda and their MSM. Western governments have aligned themselves with Saudi and Israeli sponsored brutal proxy wars against Shia communities across the Middle East, which look to Iran for protection. If the Iranian government is defensive and suspicious, is that really surprising? The week after the British government declared Hezbollah, the political and security organisation of Lebanese Shias, to be nothing but a terrorist organisation, do the Tories really think the Iranians will be looking kindly on them and their demands over Zaghari Ratcliffe?

The second point is that the entire purpose of the state “adopting” a case, is to make available the dispute resolution mechanisms which operate between states. But the UK only a few days ago repudiated the International Court of Justice, the final arbiter of such disputes, over the Chagos Islands. As the UK shows total contempt for international law, this attempt to access its remedies will be met with derision by the wider international community.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.




Africa’s Sovereignty Over Food

Local food and seed systems must be rebuilt for Africans, write Mariam Mayet, Stephen Greenberg and Linzi Lewis.

By Mariam Mayet, Stephen Greenberg and Linzi Lewis  African Centre for Biodiversity
in Johnnesburg
Inter Press Service

Africa is facing dire times. Climate change is having major impacts on the region and on agriculture in particular, with smallholder farmers —many of them women — facing drought, general lack of water, shifting seasons, and floods in some areas. 

Smallholder farmers are often women because in the prevailing division of labor, women are generally responsible for food acquisition and diets. Smallholder farmers are facing the loss of agricultural biodiversity, deforestation, declining soil health and fertility, land and water grabs by the powerful, loss of land access, marginalization and loss of indigenous knowledge and generalized lack of essential services and support.

At the same time, economies are weakening and remain heavily dependent on foreign aid, with extractivist interventions from outside. There is a strong authoritarian orientation in governments in the region, with secrecy and lack of transparency and accountability, weak and fragmented civil society organization and top-down development interventions.

There has been corporate capture of key state institutions, decision making processes and functions. Seed and food systems have been appropriated for multinational corporate profit.

Unchecked Corporate Power 

At present, corporate power is almost unchecked in agricultural input supply. The dominant narrative of agribusinesses being indispensable for feeding the world holds great sway on the continent, where corporations have captured policy making processes.

Although most seed on the continent is sourced from farmers’ own savings, sharing and local markets, this system is not recognized in policies and laws in most countries. Instead, farmer seed practices are marginalized and generally denigrated as poor quality and backward.

The predominant thrust of agricultural and seed policy and programming on the continent is to seek to replace them. Multinational corporate interests, with support from key continental, regional and national state institutions and agencies, are driving two trends. One is large-scale commercial industrialization by a global agribusiness coalition, or through a Green Revolution smallholder strategy to integrate a layer of smallholder farmers into corporate value chains for the export of bulk commodity crops such as maize and soya.

Women play an essential role in the selection, saving, and sharing of seeds, as part of a broader network within farmer-managed seed systems, shaping the agricultural diversity that meets needs of local populations.  This applies to both staple crops, as well as other food crops. In many ways, this pool of genetic resources, which women continue to develop and maintain, is the backbone of human society.

The restrictions placed over reproductive materials, i.e. seed (including all cultivation materials), and the centralized decision-making around reproduction towards uniformity, homogeneity, ownership, creates greater inequality, amplified vulnerability and a reliance on external inputs, which places the future of food production at greater risk.

Increasing restrictions on use, lack of support for these activities and even their criminalization makes production conditions more challenging for all smallholder farmers

Restrictions on seed use, what may and may not be produced and how, translate into limits on food diversity at the household level, which is a key element of nutrition.

Since the majority of seed cultivated on the continent is saved on farms, exchanged and locally traded by farmers, this provides a solid base for alternative seed sovereignty systems to thrive outside the credit and corporate market.

For small-holder farmers in Africa, the importance of farmer seed systems as central to conserving biodiversity, ensuring nutrition diversity and supporting livelihoods has been highlighted in a huge body of work over the past 30 or 40 years.

However, these systems can benefit from external support. A key priority for smallholder farmers in Africa is resilience in the face of harsh weather events. This requires seed variety adaptation and greater agricultural diversity. Women are the primary custodians of our seed diversity, the custodians of reproduction, of life. This highlights the struggles of farmers’ rights, of reproductive rights, to self-determination, and to maintain life-supporting systems.

An ecological, food-systems-transition coalition, based on agroecology and food sovereignty, has found some traction in Africa and globally, but remains relatively weak, fragmented and under-resourced.

Farmers, with support from civil society groups, are doing important work on agroecology and sustainable agriculture, but are often unable to break out of their localized practices.

These need to urgently connect with others on the continent into a bigger and more coherent movement for change, especially radical feminist movements on the continent.  Together, we can fight back and contest the hegemony of large-scale commercial farming and corporate agri-business. We must, together, rebuild and strengthen local food and seed systems for all Africans.

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) is a nonprofit organization based in South Africa with staff in Tanzania. It carries out research and analysis, learning and exchange, capacity and movement building, and advocacy to widen awareness, catalyze collective action and influence decision making on issues of biosafety, genetic modification (GM) and new technologies, seed laws, farmer seed systems, agricultural biodiversity, agroecology, corporate expansion in African agriculture, and food sovereignty in Africa.

 




Return International Women’s Day to its Radical Roots

This is no time for moderate calls for equality and balance, write Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah and Ana Inés Abelenda.

By Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah in Accra and
Ana Inés Abelenda in Montevideo
Inter Press Service

The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 doesn’t resonate with us. #BalanceForBetter brings to mind slow gradual change, and assumes that if you provide women and girls with equal access then the society will automatically be better. We know that’s false. 

Access to a broken capitalist system that privileges the richest 1 percent over the rest of the world means that the most marginalized communities (including women, girls, trans and gender nonconforming people) exist in unjust, precarious and fragile societies. This coupled with the increasing privatization of what should be common resources for everyone (including the basics of land and water), as well as the corporate takeover of many public services endangers the lives and wellbeing of poor people.

In a recent submission to the United Nations Secretary General, the African Women’s Development Network for Communications (FEMNET) and the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) stated: “Neoliberal economic policies promoted around the globe by a growing majority of governments with the support and pressure of international financial institutions (including through conditional loans), have intensified the commodification of life through privatization of basic public services and natural resources.”

Corporate Takeovers

This corporate takeover of services meant to benefit everyone, of the health and education sectors in particular, primarily affect women and girls. In a 2017 report, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to education, stated: “Women and girls are frequently excluded from education. Families often favor boys when investing in education.”

The rights of girls to quality education, particularly those from the most underprivileged communities, are infringed when public schools are privatized. Research by feminist and women’s rights organizations has demonstrated the ways in which gender biases affect the choices parents make when they need to pay for education, and have to choose which children to send to school. 

It’s in this light that one must view with great concern the increasing trend of handing over the education sector to the private sector. Ghana for example, recently announced that it was seeking to privatize the management of some basic schools. This decision is being disputed by a number of teachers’ unions including the Teachers & Educational Workers Union of Ghana, the Coalition of Concerned Teachers the National Association of Graduate Teachers and the Ghana National Association of Teachers.

The general secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers described the move “as subtle and eventual privatization, commercialization and commodification of public education in Ghana.” This trend of government reaching out to the private sector to manage the education sector has also been witnessed in other parts of West Africa including Liberia.

There is no doubt that significant investments in the education sectors are required. Sadly, governments in the Global South are looking for these resources in the wrong places. The landmark report by the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa (also known as the Mbeki report) indicated that Africa is losing more than $50 billion per year in illicit financial flows.

As highlighted in a report by AWID, IFFs have a severe impact on the development of the continent. These resources that are lost to the continent should rather be harnessed and invested into the social sector, including education and health.

Privatization of social services and reduced social protection is at the heart of South America’s wave of neoliberal governments promoting austerity policies that deepen structural gender inequalities. Coupled with the rise of the conservative right in South America — including Brazil’s fascist new government — feminist movements from the South understand this is no time for moderate calls for equality and balance.

In Uruguay, the #8M call to action states: “Ante el fascismo, más feminismo” (In the face of fascism, we need more feminism!). It is a call for international feminist solidarity to resist daily threats that aim to bring us back centuries when it comes to social and gender justice and rights. It is also a warning that feminist movements are forging new realities not only about equality, but about radical change.

So on this International Women’s Day we call for a return to its radical roots centered on workers’ rights and justice. This doesn’t call for balance. It calls for a radical transformation of society based on the twin principles of equity and justice.

Nana  Darkoa Sekyiamah is director of information, communications and media,  Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)

Ana Inés Abelenda is economic justice coordinator, Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)




Yellow-Vest Women Stake Their Claim to the Movement

Women gathered in Paris to confirm their commitment to the populist movement and women’s place in the country’s revolutionary history, reports Léa Bouchoucha from Paris for Consortium News. 

By Léa Bouchoucha
in Paris

Special to Consortium News

I‘m your wife.” “I’m your mother.” “I’m your colleague.” “My child matters.” “Stop violence.” “I am your Grandma.”

Those were some of the signs carried Jan. 6 in Paris by women in the first all-female demonstration of the Yellow Vest movement. 

Following some outbreaks of violence in larger-scale demonstrations on Saturday, the women’s protest was cast in some social media posts, as well as this AP accountas a bid to restore peace to the movement. However, the all-female protest was not responding to Saturday’s events.  It had been planned in advance, since Dec. 20, via a Facebook page that registered 15,000 people expressing interest and 2,000 committing to protest. The Paris demonstration on Sunday attracted several hundred, according to press accounts.

However, some women carried signs that said “stop violence,” reflecting on the violence that has marked many demonstrations and by some estimates hurt the movement’s popularity.  

Although the festive mood contrasted with the often-angry demonstrations on Saturday, women at the Paris protest reiterated the same basic frustrations about everyday life becoming more of a struggle.  

Framboise Clausse, a mother of five who demonstrates every weekend with her daughters at their home in the northwestern Bretagne region, made a trip of 437 kilometers, about four hours by car, to join the Yellow Vest women in Paris.

No Real Revolution Without Women  

“Mirabeau used to say that as long as women are not involved, there is no real revolution,” said the mother of five, referring to Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, the count of Mirabeau, an  early leader of the French Revolution.

Clausse said she came to Paris to protest things she hears about during her work as a consultant in a job-placement center.

“People are broken because of their working environment,” she said. “The world is very difficult and violent and what we need is to have a sharing, a true sharing.”

Clauss earns 1,500 euros, or about $1700 a month and her husband is currently drawing unemployment benefits of about $900. She said she is anxious about her dwindling purchasing power.

“As the years go by, I noticed how we are eating less meat because we cannot afford it,” she said “Basic products are more expensive. Let’s not even speak about the high cost of rents, which are expensive, even in the rural area where I live. Getting to the end of the month is very, very difficult. One of my daughters, who is doing professional training, had to come back to live with us because she can’t afford living by her own.”

As with all those quoted, Clausse spoke in French and the interview was translated.

Clausse said she left her ballot blank during the second round of the 2017 presidential election that delivered President Emmanuel Macron to office.  “Today, we need a revolution. Not a revolution from war and violence but a revolution from heart and love and it is why we are here,” she said.

For many detractors, Macron symbolizes the European Union and a capital-markets approach to transforming an economy that has long provided generous social services that are undergoing cutbacks and austerities.

Anaë Piat, 45, spoke with Consortium News during the protests. “We organized as women because women are the one who give births, hoping that the future of our children would be the best as it could possibly be.”

Wearing a conical Phrygian, or liberty, cap with the tricolor, Piat said she was not protesting as a feminist, but as a Yellow Vest. “I’m here for all the Yellow Vests: men, women, children, retired. For all the people who are currently struggling.” 

The protests began in November and just completed their eighth week.

An AP story described the movement as “losing wind with repeated violence at weekly demonstrations.” By contrast, The Wall Street Journal cast the large-scale demonstration on Jan. 5 as a sign of “staying power.”

Last week, a 33-year-old truck driver who was one of the first to call for nationwide protests was arrested, sparking outrage from leaders on different ends of the political spectrum about an abuse of power.  The French daily Le Figaro says the arrest may have reactivated the movement.

Agence France Presse reports that an online poll conducted Jan. 2-3 by Odoxa Dentsu consulting found 55 percent of those surveyed wanted the protest movement to continue.

Poverty in Female Heads of Household 

As has been noted since the start of the demonstrations, households headed by single women are among those having the hardest time meeting their living costs. Young people under 30 and single-parent families are the most affected by poverty, finds a 2018 report by L’observatoire des inegalités, an independent monitor of social conditions in France. About 35 percent of one-parent families live under the poverty line and 80 percent of that group are single mothers with children.

“Life is becoming more and more difficult, we can’t take children on a vacation and products covering basic needs are already too expensive,” said Piat, who is married and has three children.

The female protesters of all ages sang the French national anthem “La Marseillaise” and chanted anti-Macron slogans. They gathered Sunday morning on the steps of the Opera Bastille, which overlooks the symbolic Place de la Bastille, site of the Batille prison that was stormed by revolutionaries between 1789 and 1790. 

In a phone interview before the demonstration, Magali Della Sudda, a political science researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research, the largest governmental research organization in France, reflected on French women’s role in the country’s revolutionary history. “During the French revolution, women were here among the revolutionaries. They have been there throughout the 19thCentury, such as the Commune of Paris in 1871 and later on in the different social struggles of the inter-war period.”

Sudda said the women are more visible today in the Yellow Vest movement. “Because of the strong social dimension of the conflict and because the movement is outside all political structures and union organizations, people are forced to turn their attention to the ‘ordinary’ participants, including women.”

Sudda said women in the Yellow Vest movement span the social and economic strata. “We find nurses, care givers, women who work in schools with children,” she said.

Sudda points to the symbolic significance of the songs and chants heard during the women’s Yellow Vests protest on Sunday. “Women have always sung and vocalized with spirit in the demonstrations,” she said. “Their chants insist on solidarity, fraternity and what is done in common.”

Léa Bouchoucha is a multimedia journalist currently based in Paris. Her work has appeared in Vogue U.S, the Huffington Post, NPR, CNN International, Women’s eNews, Euronews, Elle, Le Figaro. She has reported from Turkey on Syrian refugees and LGBT rights and from Israel, where she was working as a news editor and reporter at the international news channel I24 News.

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Everything That is Wrong with Mainstream Feminism

Women controlling the military-industrial complex is not feminism, it’s toxic masculinity. The fruit of a sick valuing system that is poisoning our environment and risking nuclear annihilation, writes Caitlin Johnstone.

By Caitlin Johnstone
CaitlinJohnstone.com

Outlets like MSNBC and Politico have been excitedly running headlines titled “The military-industrial complex is now run by women” and “How women took over the military-industrial complex“. Apparently four of America’s five top defense contractors are now women, whose names I will not bother to learn or report on because I do not care.

These headlines are being derided by skeptics of the establishment mindset for the cartoonish self-parody of the corporate liberal mindset that they so clearly are, and rightly so. Pretty much everything in American mainstream liberalism ultimately boils down to advancing mass murder, exploitation and ecocide for profit while waving a “yay diversity” banner so that the NPR crowd can feel good about themselves while signing off on it. But the fact that these stories exist and have an audience can also be blamed more specifically on the failures of mainstream feminism.

A lot of men (and the occasional cultishly servile woman) like to bitch about the problem with modern feminism as though it is something that hurts men, threatens men, demonizes men, or robs men of their place in society or anything else they feel entitled to. This is all dopey nonsense which amounts to nothing other than a childish temper tantrum over men losing control over women that they never should have had in the first place; it’s people whining about losing their slaves. That imaginary piffle is not what is wrong with mainstream feminism. What is wrong with mainstream feminism is exemplified perfectly in a mass media parade celebrating the rise of women to the top of the most depraved industry on earth.

Playing Men’s Games

The problem that true feminism seeks to address is not that there aren’t enough women at the top of the corporate ladder, or that Americans refused to elect a woman to do the bombing, exploiting and oppressing in 2016. The problem has always been that we’re trying to value women with a value system created by a few very powerful men. By leaving in place the value system created by patriarchy (i.e. capitalism), we are now valuing women but only for their ability to play men’s games. Nobody has ever become a billionaire by being a mother, even the very best mother in the world, and nobody ever will because capitalism was designed by men, for men, to value men’s qualities. This has created a species-threatening imbalance because inequality is baked in to the system. When men reluctantly allowed women out of their house-shaped cages in the  ’60s, they did so on the condition that they would not change a thing about themselves. Women could play, but it was the women who had to change. As usual.

It’s interesting to go back to seminal texts like Germaine Greer’s “The Female Eunuch” and see how much time feminists spent back then thinking about how women could be paid for domestic and child-rearing work. Fifty years ago, feminists of the time could easily see how financial abuse runs rampant through marriages because women don’t get paid for the majority of their work. They could see how if women were to ever be truly free, that had to be fixed. If you’re not getting paid, then you’re not able to leave, and if you can’t leave, you’re a slave. Despite all of feminism’s gains, today if you dare suggest that women be paid for bearing children, you will be jeered at. It was decided somewhere along the line that, fine, you can be a fake man if you want to, but don’t expect us to value YOU. Men refused to value women’s work, which is why most of it is still essentially slavery. And that was a crucial, planet-threatening mistake.

By refusing to value women and what skills they naturally bring, humanity continued to not value the meta work of the feminine. We continued to not value the health of our environment, the health of our social cohesion, the mental health of each other. By refusing to place a hard and fast value on cleaning, healing, networking, redistributing goods, disappearing problems, restoring, reusing, collaboration, happiness and health, we are strengthening all their opposites.

Many men will knee-jerk argue that they too are slaves to the corporatocracy, and that’s true. That’s what you get when you don’t change a valuing system that was created by slave-owners to distract their slaves from killing them and to keep them working anyway. That’s what you get when you insist everyone change to suit a system that was created by power to keep power in place. We laugh about how indigenous people were fooled into handing over vast swathes of their land for handfuls of shiny shells, while we hand over our labor, our land, our rights and our freedoms for paper rectangles, today.

True feminism doesn’t hold that the world would be better off if women ran things; shifting control from one gender to the other would change very little as long as the current valuing system remains in place. True feminism holds that all of humanity needs to change its valuing system to one which rewards feminine work as much as masculine, instead of only rewarding women when they succeed at climbing the ladder of the patriarchal paradigm.

Women controlling the military-industrial complex is not feminism, it’s toxic masculinity. It’s the fruit of the sick valuing system that is blackening our air, poisoning our water, filling the oceans with plastic, bulldozing the rainforests, and marching us toward the brink of nuclear Armageddon. True feminism means turning away from the toxic valuing system which elevates the most ambitious sociopaths and toward one which values empathy, collaboration, nurturing and peace instead.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Follow her work on FacebookTwitter, or her website. She has a podcast and a new book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. This article was re-published with permission.




CN VIDEO—Women’s March on the Headquarters of War: The Full Video Report

Consortium News videographer Netra Halperin has produced a full video report of Sunday’s Women’s March on America’s center for planning and executing war.

About 1,500 women and allied men marched on the Pentagon on Sunday to demand an end to perpetual war and the funding of education, health care and other social needs instead.

After marching one mile from Pentagon City a rally was held from a stage set up in a Pentagon parking lot, against the backdrop of the five-sided war headquarters. 

Watch Netra Halperin’s one minute trailer, followed by her full, 28 minute report, which include interviews with comedian Lee Camp, a peace activist from Okinawa, retired U.S. Army Colonel and State Dept. official Ann Wright, Minar Muhawesh, founder of Mint Press News:

The full 28 minute video:




CN VIDEO—Jill Stein Talks to Consortium News: ‘We Are Being Robbed Blind by the War Profiteers’

During the Women’s March on the Pentagon, Jill Stein, the Green Party’s 2016 candidate for president, told Consortium News Video that war is robbing us blind.

By Netra Halperin
Special to Consortium News

2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein spoke to Consortium News Video during the rally at the Pentagon following the Women’s March to the war headquarters on Sunday.  Stein said she attended the march and spoke to the crowd because she wanted to be at “ground zero” for the “survival of humanity.”

She protested the “political, bi-partisan system” that is “in bed” with those who profit from war.

On the importance of women leading the way in protest, Stein said: “Feminism is incompatible with militarism.”

Watch the 6:29 video interview here:

Netra Halperin is a documentary filmmaker and videographer, whose latest film is Promise of Peace.