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Eyewitness Egypt: Feminist Nawal El Saadawi --'No discrimination between men and women ...That’s what women and men are saying'

January 31, 2011 -- Democracy Now! -- Renowned feminist and human rights activist Nawal El Saadawi was a political prisoner and exiled from Egypt for years. Now she has returned to Cairo, and she joins us to discuss the role of women during the last seven days of unprecedented protests. "Women and girls are beside boys in the streets," El Saadawi says. "We are calling for justice, freedom and equality, and real democracy and a new constitution, no discrimination between men and women, no discrimination between Muslims and Christians, to change the system... and to have a real democracy."

AMY GOODMAN: We go back right now to Egypt. Joining us on the phone is one of Egypt’s most renowned human rights activists, Nawal El Saadawi. A well-known feminist, psychologist, writer, former political prisoner in Egypt, she lived in exile for years due to numerous death threats. Nawal El Saadawi joins us on the line from Cairo.

Welcome to Democracy Now! Your feelings today in the midst of this popular rebellion against the Mubarak regime, calling on Mubarak to leave? Do you agree?

Women and revolutionary transformation in Venezuela

Yoly Fernandez (left) during her 2009 Australian tour, organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network.

By Coral Wynter

Yoly Fernandez lives in a barrio in the city of Valencia in Venezuela. She has been involved in community politics all her life and is a member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), headed by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. Fernandez works in Mission MERCAL, the government agency that sells subsidised food to the population. I interviewed her in May 2010.

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How has the life of women improved over the last 10 years of the Chavez government?

Our lives have improved enormously, mainly in the area of humane values; not so much at the level of work or even at the political level. I say humane because now the role of women is valued, not as an object but as a subject, as mother, wife, daughter and sister.

Australia: A community says no to racist burqa bans

The audience was diverse, with a range of ages and ethnic backgrounds represented. Photo by Robert Alcock.

By Peter Boyle, Sydney

November 26, 2010 -- All around the Western world, far-right groups (some with neo-Nazi orgins and links) are gaining political ground through an orchestrated campaign against Muslim communities. By spreading fear and hatred against recent immigrant communities from Muslim countries these groups have tapped into well-resourced post-9/11 war propaganda campaigns initiated by rulers of the world’s richest and most powerful states.

One of the favourite tactics of these anti-Muslim hate campaigners is to push laws banning the burqa, the fully veiled dress style used by a tiny minority of Muslim women. In Australia, the ultra-conservative Reverend Fred Nile, leader of the Christian Democratic Party and a member of the NSW Legislative Council, and Liberal senator Cori Bernardi from South Australia, have unsuccessfully tried to move private member's bills to ban the burqa.

Australia -- burqa ban debate: If I can't wear a burqa it's not my revolution?

Kiraz Janicke's "Burqa Revolution".

Green Left Weekly -- On September 23, the Daily Telegraph reported on a wall mural in the Sydney inner-west suburb of Newtown by artist Sergio Redegalli with the slogan “Say no to burqas”. Redegalli’s mural has sparked protests by local residents who have condemned it as racist. Sydney Socialist Alliance activist Kiraz Janicke says Redegalli’s piece “has no other value than to promote racism”. She has responded with an artwork of her own — a submission to the Live Red Art Awards, titled “Burqa revolution”.

Below, Janicke argues that banning the burqa (a veil covering the entire body, with a mesh over the eyes), or other forms of Islamic dress worn by some Muslim women that cover the face, will hinder true women’s liberation.

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Grameen Bank and `microcredit': The `wonderful story' that never happened

Mohammad Yunus accepts the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Far from being a panacea for fighting rural poverty, microcredit can impose additional burdens on the rural poor, without markedly improving their socio-economic condition, write Patrick Bond and Khorshed Alam.

October 21, 2010 -- Pambazuka News -- For years, the example of microcredit in Bangladesh has been touted as a model of how the rural poor can lift themselves out of poverty. This widely held perception was boosted in 2006 when Mohammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, the microfinance institution he set up, jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize. In South Asia in particular, and the world in general, microcredit has become a gospel of sorts, with Yunus as its prophet.

Consider this outlandish claim, made by Yunus as he got started in the late 1970s: "Poverty will be eradicated in a generation. Our children will have to go to a `poverty museum' to see what all the fuss was about."

Venezuela criticises `market totalitarianism' at UN Millennium Development Goal summit

By Tamara Pearson, Merida

September 22, 2010 – Venezuelanalysis.com – In Venezuela, “social investment has become a national strategy to achieve the Millennium Development Goals”, said Jorge Valero, Venezuela's ambassador to the United Nations, in his September 21 speech at the UN summit in New York analysing progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals.

In the year 2000, 189 countries agreed on Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. The current summit, which began on September 20 and closed on September 22, aimed to analyse countries' individual and global progress towards reaching those goals. Government representatives from 140 countries were present.

There are eight Millennium Development Goals, which are:

(Updated Sept. 8) Raj Patel: Food rebellion -- Mozambicans know which way the wind blows

Democracy Now! on September 8 spoke to Raj Patel about the protests in Mozambique and the floods in Pakistan. Click HERE for the full transcript.
 
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* * *STOP PRESS: Price rises reversed* * *

September 7, 2010 -- MOZAMBIQUE News reports & clippings mailing list -- Price rises which triggered the riots last week have been reversed, the government announced September 7 after an emergency cabinet meeting.

`Water is life' -- General Assembly supports Bolivia's call for `the human right to water and sanitation'

Speech delivered by Ambassador Pablo Solón of the Plurinational State of Bolivia before the General Assembly of the United Nations on July 28, 2010.

[The historic resolution passed with 122 countries voting for it and 41 abstaining, but with no negative votes. See below for the 41 governments that abstained.]

* * *

Allow me to begin the presentation of this resolution by recalling that human beings are essentially water. Around two-thirds of our organism is comprised of water. Some 75% of our brain is made up of water, and water is the principal vehicle for the electrochemical transmissions of our body.

Our blood flows like a network of rivers in our body. Blood helps transport nutrients and energy to our organism. Water also carries from our cells waste products for excretion. Water helps to regulate the temperature of our body.

Socialist Resistance statement on the banning of the veil

By Socialist Resistance (Britain)

July 26, 2010 -- Throughout Europe there is a growing movement that seeks to ban Muslim women who chose to do so from wearing the veil. In Britain today this demand comes mainly from the far-right British National Party (BNP), UK Independence Party (UKIP) and some individuals on the Conservative Party (Tory) right. Things though may change for the worse, already the Tory tabloids are stirring on this question.

This is but one part of a growing Islamophobic trend which has seen Muslim minorities become even more marginalised and demonised in Western Europe than they were previously. Though this demand originated on the far right it is now increasingly taken up by the mainstream bourgeois parties culminating in the recent decision of the French parliament to make wearing the veil a criminal offence. In France what is equally shameful is the failure of most of the French left to oppose it in any meaningful way, members of the Greens, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party having abstained on this law in the French parliament.

Banning the veil: Rights of women or anti-Islamic racism and communalism?

July 21, 2010 -- On July 13, the parliament of France, on the eve of Bastille Day, voted 335 to one in favour of preventing Muslim women wearing a full face-covering veil in public. The July 13 Le Monde said the new law was strongly supported by the right. The Socialist Party, Communist Party (PCF) and Green Party abstained. Anyone who chooses to wear a face covering on religious grounds now faces a fine of 150 euros or a “citizenship course”. The law does not come into effect until spring 2011 to allow a period of “education”. There is also a year in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros for anyone found guilty of forcing a woman to wear a veil, a penalty which is doubled if the “victim is a minor”.

Earlier this year, the Indian organisation Radical Socialist issued a statement taking up this wave of Islamophobic legislation in Europe.

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Statement by the Radical Socialist organisation, India

Building a socialist-feminist economy in Venezuela

Lidice Navas in Caracas, Venezuela, June 18, 2010.

Lidice Navas interviewed by Susan Spronk and Jeffery R. Webber

June 30, 2010 -- The Bullet -- A long-time revolutionary activist, Lidice Navas is an important socialist-feminist leader within the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and a candidate for the Latin American parliament, among her many other responsibilities. We met her at the Women’s Development Bank in Caracas on June 18, 2010, to talk about her vision of socialism, the accomplishments of the Bolivarian process so far, and what remains to be done.

What is your political history?

I am a candidate for the PSUV in Caracas. I am also a member of the Political Bureau of the Region of Caracas and a candidate for the Latin American parliament. I also have some responsibilities in the Women's Development Bank (Banco de Desarrollo de la Mujer, BanMujer) and am also active as a coordinator in the parroquia [parish] El Valle, where we are trying to construct socialism from the level of the community.

Building socialism from below: The role of the communes in Venezuela

Antenea Jimenez.

Antenea Jimenez interviewed by Susan Spronk and Jeffery R. Webber

June 13, 2010 -- The Bullet -- We met with Antenea Jimenez, a former militant with the student movement who is now working with a national network of activists who are trying to build and strengthen the comunas [communes]. The comunas are community organisations promoted since 2006 by the government of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez government as a way to consolidate a new form of state based upon production at the local level. She told us about the important advances in the process, as well as the significant challenges that remain in the struggle to build a new form of popular power from below.

Can you tell us about the barrio where you live and the comuna?

I live in a barrio [neighbourhood] in the north part of Caracas and work in a national network that is building comunas. Currently we operate in seven states; the majority of the comunas are situated outside Caracas.

Love and revolution

By Nick Southall

[The following speech was presented to the socialist youth group Resistance national conference dinner, held in Thirroul, Australia, on April 24, 2010.]

Tonight I will be looking at love as a form of power, a form of work and a form of wealth, as a need, desire, intention and action, and I will be locating our ability to transform social relations in political acts of love.

Capitalism poisons our lives with a concentration on consumption, materialism and competition, undermining loving relationships. Yet, alongside the system's violence, exploitation and oppression, there are continuing struggles about who has control over social relations, social cooperation and labour, over whether love is destroyed, suppressed, harnessed to strengthen capital or used to build and extend loving alternatives.

Raúl Castro at Venezuela's bicentenary of independence: `We have only one alternative: unite, fight and overcome'

Bicentenary of Venezuela independence celebrations. Photo from Correo del Orinoco.

Speech by Raúl Castro Ruz, president of Cuba's Councils of State and Ministers, delivered at the 9th ALBA-TCP Summit, Venezuela

April 19, 2010 -- It is very moving for us to be in Venezuelan today, April 19, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the independence struggle, which represented the battles for independence in the Spanish colonies in the Americas.

It was the embryo of a first integration process in Latin America, as Simón Bolívar understood the destiny of the peoples of our region very early on. Everything that we do now for the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean began precisely here, on a day like today, two centuries ago.

Clara Zetkin’s struggle for the united front

Clara Zetkin (left) with Rosa Luxemburg.

* * *

Listen to John Riddell present a workshop on Clara Zetkin at the US International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2009 conference in Chicago:

Women’s rights, population and climate change: The debate continues

March 7, 2010 -- Climate and Capitalism -- Should climate activists and feminists support campaigns to slow population growth? Laurie Mazur says that alliance will strengthen the movement. Ian Angus strongly disagrees …

Introduction

Climate and Capitalism recently published a debate between Betsy Hartmann and Laurie Mazur about campaigns that promote family planning and reproductive health programs as means of slowing population growth and fighting global warming.

The site subsequently published a reply to Laurie Mazur in which Ian Angus argued: “The combination of population reduction and women’s rights was already like oil and water. Adding CO2 reductions to the mix only makes things worse.”

Looking to new international structures in a new era of socialist feminist activism

``... By including the worldwide celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day among its recommendations, the international conference in Caracas discussing the proposal [this past November by Hugo Chavez for the formation of a Fifth International] gave socialist feminists extra momentum for sharing ideas for coordinating our IWD 2010 actions and events.''

By Susan Dorazio

March 8, 2010 -- One hundred years ago, German revolutionary socialist Clara Zetkin proposed, and the women of the Socialist International approved, a call for an International Women’s Day. This annual event would be an explicitly socialist response to the major issues facing women in the opening decades of the 20th century. These issues, in particular the rights of women workers and the right of women to vote, centred on conflicts in the workplace and community brought to the fore by rapid industrialisation in the US and Europe.

Pakistan: Women workers march on International Women's Day

By Bushra Khaliq, general secretary, Women Workers Help Line

Lahore -- March 8, 2010 -- More than 1500 women marched on the Mall, from Nasir Bagh to the Punjab Assembly, under the banner of Women Workers Help Line (WWHL) to celebrate the International Women's Day on March 8, 2010. Despite prevailing fear among Lahorites after an early morning suicidal attack in Model Town, women workers, including home-based workers, domestic workers, brick kiln and embellishment workers, made their way to observe the IWD. To show solidarity with victims of the morning blast, WWHL cancelled its  musical program and decided to celebrate the day in a simple manner.

Participants reached Nasir Bagh in small groups from different areas of Lahore. The rally started around 1 o'clock from Nasir Bagh and ended in front of Punjab Assembly at 3 o'clock. Led by WWHL leaders Bushra Khaliq, Azra Shad, Riffat Maqsood and others, the participants were chanting full-throated slogans against repressive anti-women and anti-worker laws. They held placards and banners inscribed with demands in favour of women workers. Among the participants there were a large number of young girls, who were singing revolutionary songs.

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