Women activists unite to fight imperialism

By LeiLani Dowell
Montreal

Uniting under the theme, “Moving forward the militant global women’s movement in the 21st century,” more than 350 women from 32 countries participated in the Montreal International Women’s Conference, held Aug. 13-16. The conference resulted in the formation of an International Women’s Alliance. The IWA will hold its first assembly in 2011 to adopt a constitution of principles of unity and an action proposal.

Montreal
Montreal
FIST photo: LeiLani Dowell

Plenary discussions highlighted the effect of imperialism on women and building resistance. A number of women-oriented workshops were held, including ones on resisting forms of exploitation; health and reproductive rights; the issues facing sexual minority women; the impact of migration; fighting racism and genocide; struggles of the Indigenous; and socialism and national liberation. A vibrant cultural event was held the evening of Aug. 15, showcasing the serious talents of many of the conference participants.

While the greatest number of women conference participants came from oppressed countries, there were women who represented important class struggles inside the imperialist countries like the U.S. and Germany. Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment was instrumental in organizing a delegation of women from the U.S., including a group from the Women’s Fightback Network. The WFN delegation included representatives from the Million Worker March Movement; Picture the Homeless; Transport Workers Union Local 100; the May 1 Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights; Fight Imperialism, Stand Together; and Workers World Party.

Gabriela-USA and Women’s Fightback<br>Network members.
Gabriela-USA and Women’s Fightback
Network members.

Along with the WFN, the other conveners of the MIWC were Women of Diverse Origins, Gabriela Philippines, Red Género y Economía México, the Asian Rural Women’s Network and the Action Network for Women’s Rights and Empowerment.

MWMM leader Brenda Stokely, a plenary and workshop speaker at the MIWC, told WW: “One of the most affirming experiences at this conference was that we must build genuine unity and solidarity among women of color, our natural allies — sisters from Asia, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America — sisters whose lives are directly impacted by imperialist wars of aggression or superexploitation. These women not only spoke in their own name about conditions they face daily, but they spoke about various strategies and tactics for resisting and fighting back against those conditions in rural areas and urban centers. So many experiences of women were reflected at this conference, which was an inspiration in terms of building an alliance against all forms of imperialism.

“There were a lot of young women activists and revolutionaries at the conference who asked thoughtful questions in terms of the various ways on how to wage the struggle, but also on how to maintain your fortitude and optimism in the day-to-day task of building alliances with others.

“Those of us from the bowels of U. S. imperialism were able to expose the conditions of the millions being exploited and facing a legacy of genocide within the U.S. prison house of oppressed nations — Black, Indigenous, Chicano/a, Filipino, Puerto Rican, Alaskan and Hawaiian nations as well as the numerous oppressed minorities. We pledged our solidarity to liberate our own society from capitalism and stand shoulder to shoulder with sister warriors who are waging anti-imperialist and revolutionary struggles around the world.

“By forming this International Women’s Alliance, we will be able to help change the character of the global women’s movement by giving a strong voice to working-class women, rural women and women of color in order to define their own action plans and tactics in the struggle against imperialism.”

For more information on the conference and updates on the newly formed International Women’s Alliance, visit miwc2010.wordpress.com.

The writer was a member FIST and member of the WFN at the Montreal conference.

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