Radio WIBG: Women’s voices from the Mediterranean: the state of play in Algeria

In 2011, women were in the forefront of the democratic movements in Mediterranean countries. Those movements of liberation didn’t fulfill the promises for women’s emancipation. In countries such as Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Algeria, the response of authoritarian patriarchal powers has been brutal. Women have paid a heavy price during these uprisings facing now a counterblast that sends them back to basic fights for gender equality. Nevertheless, they gained determination. In 2008, women activists founded the Mediterranean Women’s Fund (MedWF) to support and strengthen women’s organizations around the Mediterranean region. The MedWF has become an important articulation to shore up women’s movements in the regions.

The MedWF has adapted its action to the new needs of Mediterranean women’s organizations. Relying on networking and collective intelligence training for activists, the MedWF has worked on developing strategies to respond to the continuous attacks on women’s rights. In its efforts to provide a comprehensive support to these organizations the fund has organized meetings to gather women activists in six countries, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Croatia, Libya, and, last summer, France.

Amina, an Algerian activist with the Collectif Féministe d’Alger (the feminist association of Algiers) an organization that campaigns to stop violence against women, presented the situation in Algeria. She described the everyday struggle of Algerian women for recognition, organizing to gain emancipation and sexual and reproductive rights. A code of silence has been muffling women’s voices for women’s rights. Women demand to be heard and respected as full citizen with equal legal rights.

 

Brigitte Marti

In collaboration with MedWF and 50 50 magazine

 

(Photo and Image Credit: Mediterranean Women’s Fund)

Un-Knowing

                                Un-Knowing

                    You want to explain to your child
                    Why she didn’t go to school today
                     Even though it’s just Wednesday;
                                       But you can’t.
                 The adult in you searches for words,
                                           Composure,
                                A semblance of reason
              The reason you too never saw it coming,
       Even though the newspapers and analysts blared
     incessantly with facts and opinions that somehow
                                              Omitted
                                         A Wednesday;
                                        A midweek day
 When heat, rain and hustle had been the only certain
                               forecasts for the day.
                            When you woke up and knew
                    - more than you had ever before –  
                                                                   That you knew nothing at all.

                         Fungai R. Machirori (15/11/17)

(Image Credit: David Krut Projects / Robyn Penn)

STATEMENT BY CIVIL SOCIETY ON THE CURRENT SITUATION IN ZIMBABWE


While we do not have total clarity as to the situation on the ground, it has come to our attention that there have been sudden changes in the government structures of Zimbabwe, resulting in the army taking control of leadership. This has raised concerns for many Zimbabweans in that their country is in a state of flux which can escalate and result in dire consequences for the people of Zimbabwe.

The people of Zimbabwe have continuously been subjected to oppression, exploitation and poverty, and the current developments have the potential to exacerbate their suffering.

The role of SADC and governments in the region in supporting the regime in Zimbabwe should also not be overlooked. Their actions, including at times inactions, have contributed to the current situation in Zimbabwe.

The Civil Society Organisations and actors listed below confirm their solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe in this volatile and unsettled period.

We call on the role-players within the country to exercise restraint and to place the well-being and protection of the Zimbabwean people at the top of their priority objectives.

We call on the role-players within the country to ensure that the civil liberties of the people of Zimbabwe are recognized and respected and that their physical integrity and democratic principles are guaranteed.

We call on our respective governments and SADC to engage with all relevant role-players to broker a positive way forward with the least possible upheaval and pain for the people of Zimbabwe.

We stand in solidarity with the movements and organisations in Zimbabwe that have engaged in the struggle for transformation and democratisation in their country and that will continue to do so. 

We call for people to people solidarity.

Civil Society Organisations and Actors in support of this statement: 

 A União Nacional de Camponeses, UNAC, Mozambique

 Acção para o Desenvolvimento Rural e Ambiente, ADRA, Angola

 Associação Moçambicana para Desenvolvimento da Família, AMODEFA, Mozambique

 Aurea Mouzinho, feminist activist, Angola

 Church Land Programme, CLP, South Africa

 Community Healthcare Worker Regional Movement, Southern Africa

 East Cape Agricultural Research Project, ECARP, South Africa

 groundWork, South Africa

 International Labour Research and Information Group, ILRIG, South Africa

 Just Associates, JASS, Southern Africa

 Justiça Ambiental, Mozambique

 La Via Campesina – Southern and Eastern Africa

 Labour Resource and Research Institute, LARRI, Namibia

 Legal Assistance Centre, LAC, Namibia

 Livaningo, Mozambique

 Positive Vibes, Namibia

 Rural Women’s Assembly, Southern Africa

 South African Careworkers Forum, South Africa

 Surplus People Project, SPP, South Africa

 Wellness Foundation, South Africa

 Women’s Legal Centre, WLC, Namibia

 WoMin, African Gender and Extractives Alliance, Africa

Every day in Latin America, 12 women are killed. Seven of them are killed in Mexico.

In 1993, a group of women shocked Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, with the news that dozens of girls and women had been murdered and dumped, like garbage, around the city during the year. As the numbers of murders grew over the years, and as the police forces proved unable and unwilling to find the perpetrators, the protestors became activists. They called the violence and consequent impunity for the crimes `femicide,’ and they demanded that the Mexican government, at the local, state, and federal levels, stop the violence and prosecute the murderers.”

In 1993, the murder of women, and the refusal of the State, in this instance the Mexican state, to do anything, was shocking. In an interview today, Luis Raúl González Pérez, President of Mexico’s National Commission for Human Rights, said that, across Latin America, 12 women are murdered every day. Seven women are killed every day in Mexico. In Mexico, this is called feminicidio. In English, it’s both femicide and feminicide. Whatever it’s called, it’s an atrocity, one that’s been created by successive Mexican governments, governments north and south, east and west of Mexico, multinational corporations, and more. Mexican femicide is the nation’s, and the world’s, cost of doing business. That’s why the hotspots of femicide in Mexico have moved from the southern border to the northern. Ever increasing mounds of women’s cadavers is not even collateral damage in the national, regional and global development scheme, and those mounds are piling up at an ever-increasing rate.

A recent report on household relations, from the National Institute for Statistics and Geography, suggests that in Mexico 7 out of every 10 women has experienced violence, most of which is sexual and emotional. Ten areas exceed the national average. In Mexico City, for example, eight of ten women have suffered violence.

Right now, 12 areas in Mexico have been issued a “femicide alert” by the Commission. Another five been under the alert for almost six months. When these alerts are issued, the locale often sees it as a hassle and an embarrassment. As González Pérez explained, “Local governments must see that this alert is a tool that does not seek to harm, but to contribute to the solution of the problem. [Some consider it a political coup] because it is misunderstood. It feels like it’s  reproaching them for the past, but it’s actually a proposal to move towards the future.” In what world do governments see femicide as a misplaced garbage dump, as bad for business, and nothing more? In our world.

Since that day in 1993, women have been protesting, organizing, militating against femicide. Mexican women have reached across borders and across oceans for support and for models of anti-femicide activism and policy. Since January 2016, Maria Salguero, a geophysical engineer, has designed and maintained an interactive femicide map. Guadalupe García Álvarez, a member of the Mazahua indigenous nation, suffered violence at home and then, at the age of 13, was sent to Mexico City to work as a maid. She decided enough was enough, and left. She went to university, completed her studies, and then returned home, where she founded, MULYD, Mujeres Lucha y Derechos Para Todas. Women’s Struggle and Rights for All (Women and Girls). Poets, such as Mijail Lamas, have invented new kinds of poetry, documentary poetry, to do more than “draw attention” to femicide and to violence against women. Lamas, and other poets, are insisting that the assault on women is an assault on language, on communication, on the soul and spirit of each and every human being, and not only in Mexico.

Every day, seven women in Mexico are murdered. That arithmetic is described as a crisis. It is. The crisis is violence, the violence committed by men in relationships, by men in corporations and investment agencies and banks, and by men in charge of governments, and not only the government of Mexico. Where is the global outrage at a contemporary witch hunt that threatens, as they always have, every woman?

 

(Photo credit: SDP Noticias / Claroscuro)

New Jerseyans Boot Trumpism out of the Garden State

Sheila Oliver and Phil Murphy

On November 7th, while watching the results of the Virginia election, long considered a litmus test for the midterm elections in 2018, another wave of elections returned complete control of New Jersey to the Democrats. It was a historic night for minorities and immigrants in the state, and a cautious tale for all Republicans to heed: if you think you can win elections on Trump rhetoric, fear mongering anti-immigrant racist and sexist policy, try again. Especially in a state that prides itself as being an immigrant state.

Fifteen minutes after the polls closed, New Jersey elected Democrat Phil Murphy as Governor, on the promise of passing a $15 an hour minimum wage hike, funding pensions for all state employees-which had stalled during the Christie administration along with a pay freeze on the state-creating a state bank, which would keep money in the community, and decriminalizing and regulating marijuana for recreational use. Murphy also promised to back a Millionaire’s Tax for the states’ wealthy individuals. Murphy’s running mate, Sheila Oliver, became New Jersey’s first Black woman to serve as Lieutenant Governor. While only time will tell if Murphy can make due on his promises, his embrace of a progressive agenda helped to bring him to victory.

Murphy’s opponent, Chris Christie’s Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, floundered to distance herself from the infamous Governor’s toxicity. Christie will leave office with a dismal approval rating in the teens, one of the least popular governors ever anywhere. On the last leg of her campaign, Guadagno took a page from Trump, targeting whatever anti-immigrant sentiment persists in the state. Pandering to what little base she could drum up, Guadagno ran ads blasting Murphy’s promise to make New Jersey a “sanctuary state” for undocumented immigrants (as if it was never the hub of immigration along with New York), with the threat that it would make New Jersey less safe.

It wasn’t the first attempt by New Jersey candidates to attempt to appeal to racist sentiment. Hoboken elected its very first Sikh mayor, Ravi Bhalla, despite flyers being plastered around the city demanding that citizens don’t vote to let “A TERRORIST overtake the town.”

Elsewhere, minorities made big gains in smaller elections, despite major pushback from Republicans. Edison’s schoolboard re-elected incumbents Jingwei “Jerry” Shi and Falguni Patel. They were also the victims of mailers decrying the diversifying schoolboard, asking voters to “Make Edison Great Again.” The outcry and pushback secured their election win.

Ashley Bennett, first-time candidate and Egg Harbor Township resident, defeated notorious Republican John Carman as Atlantic County Freeholder. Bennett was angered by Carman’s response to the Women’s March, when he asked whether the “protests would be ‘over in time for dinner.’” Carman later drew more criticism for wearing a patch with the state of New Jersey partially covered with the Confederate flag.

New Jersey is a prime example of the reason Republicans should be nervous about the upcoming midterm elections. Our disdain for Trumpism and our embrace of progressive policies serve warning to those NJ Republicans in the House. Most NJ Republicans have been embroiled in a tug of war; on one side, maintaining support for the Republican, and by extensionTrump’s, base, and on the other, a growing anti-Trump sentiment in comfortably Republican districts in the state. Frank LoBiondo, Representative of NJ’s 2nd Congressional District, has announced his retirement, putting the swing district in play. There is only a one-point advantage in the district, which Trump barely won in the first place.

Tom McArthur, House Representative for NJ’s 3rd Congressional District, has been lambasted in recent months for his support of the ACA repeal; the McArthur Amendment was one of the leading reasons that Trumpcare passed the House in the spring of 2017. Many have watched the impassioned town halls with him, having put families in danger from allowing states to opt out of covering people with pre-existing conditions.

Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ 11th) became notorious for subtly attacking a woman activist by penning a letter to her employer and forcing her resignation. Though there has been no formal reprimand, he was criticized for using his position to punish women who speak out against his policies and ideologies.

Finally, Representative Chris Smith (NJ 4th) has coasted on the obscurity of his ideology. Anti-choice, anti-LGBT, and completely distant from his constituents, Smith hasn’t hosted a town hall in twenty-five years (though demands to hold a town hall have been shared to his staff) and lives primarily in Virginia, so much so that his daughter was able to attend college paying in-state tuition in Virginia. He maintained a comfortable lead over many Democrats who opposed him throughout the years, mainly because of the obscurity of his policy agendas and labor support. Given the trends from the election results, he, and all politicians who thought they could ride on Trump’s coattails, should be very worried indeed.

Ashley Bennett

 

(Photo Credit 1: CNBC / Lucas Jackson / Reuters) (Photo Credit 2: Washington Post / Wayne Perry / AP)

There are no plans to close the camp in Nauru

“There are no plans to close the camp in Nauru.” Thus ends Reuters “Factbox: Why does Australia detain asylum seekers in offshore camps?”. The “Factbox” relates the current situation in the closed detention centers on Manus Island and, to a much lesser extent, on Nauru. Last year, the Papua New Guinea High Court declared the Manus detention center illegal. Last month, Australia closed the center and tried to move its 700+ men to another center, one without running water. 600 some men decided to stay and have occupied the center since, at great risk to their own lives. Journalist and Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani, imprisoned on Manus Island since August 2014, wrote, “Death is always ever so present. Death. The breath of death. The scent of death. The reign of death over Manus prison. This is the reality of living out here.” Death. This is Australia’s vaunted “Pacific Solution”: horror, torture, death. Take the bodies, the more vulnerable the better, and throw them in a pit, far away, where the “good people” of Australia need not see or hear them cry. Pregnant women, children, men, survivors all, throw them away. To re-open the “Factbox”, “So far, no `boat person’ detained on Manus or Nauru has been resettled in Australia.”

Last year, all eyes were on Nauru. Leaked reports last year showed that 2,000 incidents of sexual abuse, assault and attempted self-harm had occurred. Many of these involved children. The United Nations chastised Australia and Nauru for their failure, call it refusal, to protect asylum seeker and refugee children from sexual abuse. Amnesty International called the conditions on Nauru torture. Currently, Australia detains 369 people on Nauru. 46 of them are women, and 43 are children.

By air, Nauru is a little over 2000 miles from Brisbane, and, for those detained and tortured there, galaxies and light years away. And for Australians? Why does Australia detain asylum seekers in Nauru? Why is Australia not only not shocked but proud of its torture of refugee and asylum seeker children, women, and men on Nauru? Why does Australia hate pregnant and abused women asylum seekers on Nauru? The answer? “There are no plans to close the camp in Nauru.” There is no more to be said.

 

(Photo Credit: The Guardian / Saba Vasefi)

Elder Care Workers in the United States Are Fighting for Justice

The aging of the largest generation in the United States, the Baby Boomers, is creating a desperate shortage for care workers for elders. By 2024, upstate New York will need 451,000 home health workers in 2024; currently the state employs 326,000. Already, the shortage is problematic for New York. For example, Rebecca Leahy of North Country Home Services reports that, every week, it is unable to provide a staggering 400 hours of homecare services which have been authorized by the state. Leahy explains, “My fear is that in the near future most patients in the three Adirondacks counties of Franklin, Essex, and Clinton could be without services because the sole provider for most of this region will not be able to cover payroll.” That would leave thousands of elders without the physical and emotional urgent care that they need.

The current trend, pushing us into a critical shortage of homecare workers, has been caused by the lack of well-paying jobs in the elder health-care industry. That lack creates a pool of continually underemployed workers. Upstate New York, and most of the country, consistently employs workers at wages and conditions that keep them in poverty, causing a high turnover rate of workers in a health industry that needs stability. Currently, the number of people in the United States over the age of 65 is expected to double. With the urgent and pervasive need for personal-care aids and home healthcare workers, employers and the state should provide jobs that give aids decent wages and benefits, including paid time off and health insurance.

Those benefits have not been procured by employees. Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, has highlighted the extreme precariousness and vulnerability in elder care workers. With an industry where 90% of workers are women, the majority women of color and 30-40% immigrants, the conditions are impossible, ‘The average income for home care-workers is $17,000 a year. The median income for an elder care-worker…is $13,000.” Additionally, according to Poo, because they are characterized as domestic workers, elder care workers don’t qualify for work protections such as “limits on hours and overtime pay, days off, health benefits and paid leave.” Workers are completely dedicated to the patient who needs care, but are unable to receive the benefits and pay they deserve, many taking care of our families and loved ones.

Nearly 75% of nursing home care and home health care is paid for through Medicaid and Medicare, where the reimbursement rate has stagnated for several years. With the Trump administration’s attempts to roll back expansions granted under the Affordable Care Act, those reimbursements are unlikely to increase any time soon.

The National Domestic Workers Alliance is one of the leading organizations in the United States working for the inclusion of domestic workers, which include elder care employees, into the Fair Labor Standards Act which guarantees workers a federal minimum wage, overtime, sick, and vacation pay.

Caring Across Generations is a coalition of more than 100 local, state, and national organizations, working towards a policy agenda which includes, “access to quality care, affordable home care for families and individuals, and better care jobs.” The organization lists four major proposals to help address the underemployment of homecare workers and the growing need for elder care services:

  1. Increase the national minimum wage floor for domestic workers to $15.00 per hour.
  2. Improve workforce training and career mobility to ensure quality.
  3. Develop a path to citizenships for undocumented caregivers.
  4. Create a national initiative to incentivize and recruit family caregivers into the paid workforce, since nearly 85% of long term care is provided by family members.

According to Ai-jen Poo, domestic workers, including elder care workers, “need fair wages, decent working conditions and access to reproductive health care, including abortions”. It seems a simple request, considering these workers provide physical, mental and emotional care for our elderly family members while sacrificing their time with their own families. Given the emerging crisis, the time to help these workers is now!

 

(Photo Credit: Caring Across Generations)

Virginians decided yesterday, and we decided to move forward

In 2006, Mazie Hirono was elected to the U.S. Senate. She was the first and only Asian-American woman U.S. Senator and the first woman Senator from Hawaii. A year ago, today, the people of Washington’s 7th Congressional District elected Pramila Jayapal to the United States House of Representatives. Pramila Jayapal was the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress. On the same day, in Minnesota, Ilhan Omar won a Minnesota House seat, making her the first Somali-American legislator in the history of the United States. Yesterday, Virginia voters decided to smash a few more glass ceilings, and elected Danica Roem, Elizabeth Guzman, Hala Ayala, Kathy Tran, Dawn Adams, Jennifer Carroll Foy.

Here’s the list of firsts. Danica Roem is the first openly transgender person to win elective office in Virginia. Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala are the first Latinas elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates. Elizabeth Guzman is also the first social worker and the first AFSCME member elected to the House of Delegates. Kathy Tran is the first Asian American woman elected to the House of Delegates. Dawn Adams is the first open lesbian elected to the House of Delegates. Jennifer Carroll Foy is the first public defender elected to the House of Delegates. That’s a lot of firsts, and that’s a whole lot of women.

Who voted these first women into office? Extrapolating from those who elected Ralph Northam to be the next Governor of Virginia, women. 61% of all women voted Democratic. 91% of Black women voted Democratic. 58% of women with college degrees voted Democratic. 54% of married women voted Democratic, and 77% of women who are not married voted Democratic. The turnout yesterday was the highest in 20 years for a gubernatorial race. That’s a whole lot of women.

There were other firsts in the Commonwealth. Voters elected Chris Hurst, a first-time candidate and a leading gun control advocate. Voters also chose Justin Fairfax, the first African American elected to a Virginia statewide office since 1989.

Thanks to the great work of Governor Terry McAuliffe and New Virginia Majority, thousands of formerly incarcerated people – including LaVaughn Williams and Brianna Ross – voted for the first time.

Virginians decided yesterday, and we decided to move forward, not back. Virginians decided to remember and honor Heather Heyer, whose last, and lasting, public statement was, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” In the words of Sojourner Truth, “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!” And Mary Harris Jones roars in response, “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living!” We’re outraged, we voted, and we’re going to keep on voting, organizing, mobilizing, and moving the agenda forward.

 

(Photo Credit: The New York Times / Chet Strange) (Infographic: The Washington Post)

Also 11/7/17

Also 11/7/17

Someone carelessly
looped the flag at half mast for
the latest victims.

Drooping from its slack
rope, even the autumn wind
leaves it listless, like

a hand in its last
moments, the slightest quiver
before giving up.

As before, so in
the aftermath, our lives less
worthy of life, death

dishonored for
not being money, crisp green
deserving a five

sided fortress and
the wealth of a nation. One
wet flag weeps for us.

 

(Photo Credit: The Washington Post / Eric Gay / AP)

26: The infinite mirroring of the horror we have created

Sutherland Springs

“Whose grave’s this, sir?”
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

“Mourning. We will be speaking of nothing else.”
Jacques Derrida. Specters of Marx

26. Two mirrors face each other. “Sutherland Springs: Texas church shooting leaves 26 dead”. “Italy probes deaths of 26 Nigerian women from migrant boats”. These headlines both appeared on the BBC news website today. In Texas, the Governor said, “This will be a long, suffering mourning for those in pain.” In Texas, half of the people killed were children. In Italy, most of the women were between 14 and 18 years old. This is the fearful symmetry we have produced. No immortal hand or eye would dare produce such horror. This is completely ours. 26. We should all be in pain, and not just today. Who will remember the day in which 26 innocents here and 26 innocents there became specters, objects for the work of mourning, subjects for the never-too-soon debates? Who will claim responsibility, for the wholesale mass production of guns, refugees, asylum seekers, and corpses? 26. Whose world is this? Whose grave’s this, sir? 26.

Salerno

 

(Photo Credit 1: BBC / AFP) (Photo Credit 2: BBC / EPA)