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      Women's Liberation and Building the Antiwar Movement
      Mobilization Against War and Occupation Celebrates International Women’s Day!

      By Janine Solanki

      “When the men kill, it is up to us women to fight for the preservation of life.” - Clara Zetkin

      International Women’s Day (IWD) was first proposed by the revolutionary Clara Zetkin, at the second International Conference of Working Women in 1910 in Copenhagen. International Women’s Day was deeply rooted in the fight against war from the start, and Clara Zetkin’s words above were spoken as the women’s movement was taking up the struggle against World War I.

      Today we are facing a new era of war and occupation, which has brought destruction to country after country, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Libya, Syria and Yemen. In these wars and occupations, women are the most impacted as they face physical and sexual violence, and struggle to protect and provide for the families that they are the center of. While the women’s movement has many struggles, including for equality and against violence and sexual abuse, under war and occupation these important struggles take a back seat to just trying to keep families alive. However it is also under these circumstances that women are known to take up the lead in movements against war, oppression and injustice.

      On March 10th, Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) held an IWD celebration, “Women’s Liberation and Building the Antiwar Movement” in Vancouver. The hall was full with men and women of all ages and backgrounds, coming together to celebrate and support equality and justice for women. The evening began with a powerful welcoming song and drumming from Kelly White, a Coast Salish Indigenous elder and activist. The MCs of the evening, Alison Bodine (MAWO chair) and Janine Solanki (MAWO executive committee member) opened the event speaking on the situation of war and occupation around the world, and the importance of women taking a leading role in the antiwar movement. The event continued with video clips showing women around the world in the struggle for a better world, from Venezuelan women organizing their communities to a female Palestinian hip hop artist speaking against occupation and for women’s empowerment. The audience then heard from Nabilah, a Yemeni community member, who gave a heartfelt speech on her experiences as a Yemeni women and about the Saudi-led, US-backed war against her country.

      The audience was then brought to their feet by the music of Jabulile Dladla, a former singer with the Soweto Gospel Choir. The room could not help but get up and dance to the South African rhythms and Jabulile’s incredible voice! The audience was then treated to the brilliant voice of another talented women, Kiki Connelly. Kiki, along with Brian Broda on the guitar, encouraged the audience to sing along and led the crowd in beautiful and soul-touching songs. The evening also featured poetry in three different languages. Mayra Climaco, a Nicaraguan poet, former Sandinista militant and long-time social justice activist read some of her own poetry in Spanish, translated also in English. Azza Rojbi, a MAWO secretary and Tunisian social justice activist, read poetry from North Africa in both Arabic and English. Tamara Hansen, coordinator with Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) spoke about the strong role, historically and today, of women in the Cuban Revolution. She also shared a special video message from Tania Lopez Larroque, the Cuban Consul General in Toronto, who extended greetings and solidarity with the event.

      The evening came to a close with more music and dancing, and a feeling of inspiration from having heard the music, poetry and stories of so many strong, amazing women! International Women’s Day is one important day to celebrate, and a day to propel us forward to continue fighting for women’s liberation and against war and occupation every day! Mobilization Against War and Occupation Celebrates International Women’s Day!

      Follow Janine Solanki on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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