Angela Davis on how Clinton made Trump president

This January 2018 video says about itself:

Angela Davis Criticizes “Mainstream Feminism” / Bourgeois Feminism

Full lecture: here.

Translated from a report in Dutch daily Trouw, 8 May 2018, about African American activist Angela Davis in Paris, France:

In her own country the political wind is blowing more rightward than ever. As far as she is concerned, this is also the fault of the [establishment self-styled ‘centrist’] left: “If Hillary Clinton would not have had such a limited idea of feminism, then Trump would not have been elected. Her feminism is about the glass ceiling. The glass ceiling, the women for whom that is a problem have everything already. All they have to do is go through that ceiling. If Clinton would have also stood up for the black women, the trans women, the poor women, maybe then Trump would not have been elected.”

Facebook censoring feminism

This 7 July 2013 video is about the British Matchwomen’s Festival.

After Facebook banning a famous Vietnam war atrocity photobanning women’s reproductive rights information … etc. Meanwhile, eg, the Dutch Nederlandse Volks-Unie neonazis are free to spout racism, sexism, marches promoting that, etc. on their Facebook page.

By Ben Chacko in Britain:

Facebook censoring feminism with ban on mentioning women, say activists

Friday 23rd June 2017

Bid to promote the Matchwomen’s festival falls foul of bizarre social media post guidelines

FACEBOOK stands accused of censoring feminist content after one of London’s most popular left festivals was barred from promoting its page on the site.

The annual Matchwomen’s festival commemorates the 1888 strike by women and girls at the Bryant & May match factory. This week it tried to boost the page inviting people to attend this year’s event, which takes place on July 1 in Camden — only to be refused.

Bewildered organiser Louise Raw was told Facebook would not promote pages that contain “profanity, harassment, or references to your audience’s personal characteristics (such as gender, race, age or name)” — and the page’s repeated use of the term “women” fell foul of the condition, even though it makes clear that men and children are equally welcome to attend.

“I can appreciate that Facebook would want to ban white supremacist events, but their ruling that ads must not mention gender, race or age means that Women of Colour would not be able to promote self-contained events, nor women who want a female-only safe space event for example for victims of abuse or rape”, she pointed out.

“It would presumably rule out the WASPI women’s pension campaign if they wanted to promote something relevant to the women affected.

“Meanwhile I can find no evidence that Facebook has an issue with events with all male or all-white panels.”

Academic and activist Dana Mills said it was “troubling” that Facebook was censoring left events “under the guise of anti-sectarianism.

“This merely furthers injustice and consolidates the Establishment narrative. What a shame that an event celebrating a successful strike that has made life better for women and men ever since is perceived as threatening and provokes censorship.”

And NUT executive member Kiri Tunks was appalled by the social media giant’s stance.

“How can minority or oppressed groups self-organise if they are barred from naming the basis of their oppression?” she asked.

“This event is about educating people on the amazing role played by women in establishing the labour movement, and we can’t talk about that?

“Young women rose up, took on a patriarchal system and won, and now women are being written out of history.

“Would they apply the same principle to the ‘personal characteristic’ of race? Would they agree with the critics who snipe that the Black Lives Matter movement should rename itself All Lives Matter, though that fails to recognise the particular oppression black people face and therefore prevents them from challenging it?”

Facebook had not responded to a request for comment by the time the Morning Star went to press.

Facebook bans women for posting ‘men are scum’ after harassment scandals. Comedian Marcia Belsky’s 30 day ban for response to misogynistic abuse directed at friend prompts protest resulting in hundreds of suspensions: here.

This is the real story behind the infamous 2016 Gizmondo report that claimed Facebook workers “suppressed” conservative news.

Did you know you could advertise on Facebook to a subsection of “Jew haters”?

Facebook ‘sold adverts targeted at users interested in “how to burn Jews”’. Now-disabled categories allowed ad buyers to target antisemites: here.

International Women’s Day, 8 March

This 1976 video from Italy says about itself:

International Women’s Day demonstration with women marching and carrying banners

Commentary: the women marched through the city centre carrying banners calling for equal job opportunities with men, abortion reform and freely-available contraceptive devices. The march ended with a rally, where speakers called for Italian women to be given more equality.

As the Rome demonstration took place, Arab and Israeli delegates to an international women’s conference in Brussels condemned the oppression of women in their respective societies, according to an Israeli delegate. Marcia Freedman, a member of the Israeli group attending the unofficial international tribunal on crimes against women, said a Yemeni delegate had spoken out against what the Yemeni woman called the oppression of Arab women in patriarchal Arab society. Ms Freedman added that the Israelis had earlier attacked what they called their own patriarchal society. They said this exploded the great Israeli myth of equality.

By Susan Aitouaziz in Britain:

The all-important roots of our struggle

Thursday 3rd March 2016

Susan Aitouaziz recalls the momentous strikes of working-class women which led to the establishment of International Women’s Day

Christine Lagarde head of the bosses’ International Monetary Fund (IMF) spoke on a Women of the World platform — of which the Duchess of Cornwall is president — marking last year’s International Women’s Day.

They represent the super-rich and not the 99 per cent of women. Lagarde talked about making the workplace a fairer place for women as a means to boost national economies rather than how it could improve the lives of working women and their children.

Not surprising as president of the IMF. Her role is to defend capitalism and big business by making the poorest in society pay for the economic crisis.

It is far from the original aspirations of the socialist women who established International Working Women’s Day to promote equal rights and suffrage for women. Indeed it was founded to commemorate a strike of women textile workers.

On March 8 1908 15,000 women garment workers marched through New York City’s Lower East Side to rally at Union Square to demand economic and political rights. They walked in the footprints of a similar march by textile workers in 1857 who on the same date protested against their poor working conditions.

Inspired by that march of 1908 women garment workers staged a successful three-month strike, known as “the uprising of the 20,000,” from November 1909 to February 1910 against the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. Tragically a year later 146 women and girls perished in a horrific fire at the factory when a fire-exit door was kept locked making escape impossible. Many jumped out of the windows to their deaths.

One third of the people who marched on May Day in 1910 to Union Square were women socialists and trade unionists.

German socialist Clara Zetkin had agitated for several years for a special day to mark working women’s global solidarity. Inspired by the New York women garment workers’ struggles and the strong role of women socialists Zetkin proposed in August 1910 at an International Women’s Conference in Copenhagen that International Women’s Day (IWD) be celebrated every year to honour working women around the world.

The following year on March 19 1911 one million women poured onto the streets throughout Europe demanding their rights and in 1914 women rallied against the imperialist war.

In February 1917 Russian women textile workers went on strike to mark International Women’s Day demanding peace, land and bread. It sparked the struggle to topple the tsar, which then led to the workers’ revolution. In July 1917 the Provisional Government granted Russia’s women the right to vote and hold political office.

Political representation did not in itself bring us fair pay or free us from the home. It was the actions of working women who refused to be viewed as a cheap, submissive workforce which inspired generations of women to join our unions and demand equality.

It is hand-in-hand with our brothers that we have fought capitalism, for we are not in competition with men for the crumbs swept off the employers’ table but united in our demand for a better, fairer world for all.

It is in honour of working women across the world that we celebrate International Women’s Day each year.

It is our right to reclaim this day whose roots are firmly planted in the trade union movement and socialist tradition.

Let us praise our unions and trades union councils for holding events around the country which remember the origins of International Women’s Day and celebrate a woman’s place in her union.

Susan Aitouaziz is women’s officer at Greater London Association of Trades Union Councils.

Join us in a celebration of our history and honour those fantastic women who led the struggle for suffrage and demanded better pay and conditions in the workplace. The Greater London Association of Trades Union Councils are holding a Reclaim International Women’s Day event on the Saturday March 12 at NUT Headquarters, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H at 2pm-3pm. Sisters and brothers are welcome.

London feminist library threatened

This video from England says about itself:

13 March 2015

The Feminist Library of London is celebrating its 40th anniversary. At a time when feminism seems to be enjoying resurgence, we try to find out whether feminist libraries are still important or not.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Feminist Library on verge of eviction

Friday 19th February 2016

Council doubles rent on eve of Women’s History Month

THE Feminist Library issued a last-minute plea against eviction yesterday — ironically on the first day of Women’s History Month.

Southwark Council, in south London, is demanding £30,000 a year rent — up from £12,000 — and has threatened to close the library down on March 1. The library has been on the site for almost three decades.

The volunteer-led charity, which holds one of the biggest collections of feminist literature in Britain, has launched a 38 Degrees petition, that has nearly 4,000 signatures,

meanwhile, as I looked, 10,351 signatures

to get the local authority to reconsider its decision to impose an extortionate rent rise on the self-funding charity run by volunteers.

Volunteer Una Byrne had said that because of the lack of affordable properties in London, it’s crucial that the charity can collect enough funds to stay put until somewhere suitable is found.

The library said that the building it occupies was “never intended to be a place of commercial venture” and that it goes against its purpose for the council to charge market-level rents.

The building was acquired in 1983 by the Greater London Council (GLC) ethnic minority committee for a resource and planning centre to tackle racism in the capital. The GLC was abolished three years later.

Earlier this month, Southwark Council approved a report that “highlights the need for a thriving voluntary and community sector that mobilises community action and makes best use of community resources, skills, knowledge and spaces.”

Ms Byrne added: “We cannot understand how treating our organisation in such a way is consistent with approving this report.”

The Feminist Library holds exhibitions and community events as well as keeping more than 7,000 books, archives, 1,500 periodical titles, pamphlets and posters on the women’s rights and liberation movement.

It has also launched a campaign and a special appeal for supporters to donate to its emergency fund in order to be able to challenge the council.

Other feminist organisations that have been forced to close include Lambeth Women’s Project, Peckham Black Women’s Centre, and the London Irish Women’s Centre.

SOUTHWARK COUNCIL’S threat to shut the Feminist Library down on March 1 is rather ironic, considering that date marks the start of Women’s History Month. We’ll be forced to close us unless we agree to an immediate rent increase from £12,000 to £30,000 a year — more than double. The council’s actions could end a unique archive with a 40-year history. As a practically unfunded, volunteer-run feminist organisation, we cannot afford such a steep increase in our rent: here.

United States singer Ani DiFranco interviewed

This music video is called Ani DiFranco32 Flavors.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Feminism‘s passionate advocate

Thursday 2nd October 2014

Singer ANI DIFRANCO tells Ian Sinclair that she’s as committed as ever to promoting the cause of women

HAVING made her name as an independently minded and politically progressive singer-songwriter, Ani DiFranco’s new album Allergic to Water is something of a departure.

“I had another kid so it comes out of a time of going inwards,” the 44-year-old US feminist icon tells me backstage before her show at the Union Chapel in London.

“Kids draw you into yourself and your house and your family, so it’s much less outward looking for those circumstantial reasons.”

DiFranco says that if there is a theme to the album, her 20th, it is “how everything in life that is essential and sustains you is also painful.” As you get older you learn that “the more important and marvellous something is the harder it is.”

Having set up her own independent record label rather than taking the quick corporate buck when she was 18, DiFranco has certainly paid her artistic dues. Since then she has slowly built up a fiercely loyal audience and garnered heaps of critical praise too.

The personal mood of the new album is especially striking when compared to her previous record — 2012’s impressive Which Side Are You On?

The perfect soundtrack to the Occupy movement, the title track is a barnstorming reworking of the old political broadside, including a banjo intro from her folk singer friend Pete Seeger, who died in January.

Turning to the current White House incumbent, she confesses that she was “overly excited” when Obama was elected in 2008. Six years later, she says his presidency has been “frustrating and disappointing,” though perhaps not for the reasons some might expect.

She still believes that he is a “very good man, a very brilliant man” but “he has been surrounded by brick walls and hatred the whole time,” she asserts.

Rather than focusing on the president as an individual, she believes it’s important to focus on the core of the problem — “the extreme Republican right-wing apparatus, the completely corporate-controlled, lobbyist-controlled government in which Obama didn’t stand a chance of effecting any real change.”

She concedes that Obama made an essential error “right out of the gate” in choosing to retain several key members of President Bush’s team: “You can’t change things with the same guys. So when he retained the finance dude and the war dudes it was like: ‘Well, what kind of change are they going to make?’ Obviously very little.”

How does she feel about Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee in 2016? “I would be thrilled if she was elected at this point,” she replies. “Female in the White House. Good Thing. Period.”

Comparing Clinton to Obama, she says that the former’s definitely more “in with the in-crowd in DC, so maybe she can get more done against that brick wall.”

A surprising view — when I interviewed DiFranco for this newspaper in 2007, Clinton was the favourite to be the Democratic presidential candidate and the singer was in London to promote her brilliant 2-disc career retrospective Canon.

Her view on Clinton has changed considerably — “I’m not into Hillary at all, except as a door opener,” she told me seven years ago. She hoped then that Clinton would pave the way for “truly progressive women.”

“She’s very much a politician,” she argued in 2007. “The best I could hope for out of her is not too much damage is done.”

No-one’s politics are static, of course, but this seems a significant change nonetheless.

Fans will be happy to know DiFranco’s passion for feminism is as strong as ever. She is excited to hear that people are talking about the “fourth wave” of feminism in Britain.

“If feminism can lead us out of the ‘me’ generation and the conception of ourselves as consumers back into citizens with purpose that would be awesome,” she declares.

She isn’t aware of a similar feminist resurgence in the US, though admits she isn’t as in touch as she used to be. “I feel very often like the Last of the Mohicans,” she admits. “I hope that there are many other young women out there engaging with the concept and generating momentum but I don’t know. I just feel like I’m the only one in the room talking about patriarchy.”

As she prepares to finish the set list for the night’s show, I ask how she stays hopeful in a world full of war and threatened by climate change.

“It’s a pessimistic time and it’s funny to be out and about this season with a very personal record in such a highly charged and urgent political climate,” she tells me. “But here I am, this is the turn my life has taken,” she adds philosophically.

Allergic to Water is released on October 14 by Righteous Babe Records.

British feminist sociologist Ann Oakley interviewed

This video, recorded in Scotland, says about itself:

Prof. Ann Oakley – The Invention of Gender: Social Facts and Imagined Worlds

Professor Ann Oakley, distinguished sociologist, feminist and writer, delivers the annual Chrystal Macmillan lecture.

Prof Oakley is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the Institute of Education, University of London. In 2011 the British Sociological Association gave her one of their first Lifetime Achievement Awards for her extraordinary contribution to the history of the development of sociology in Britain.

Recorded on Thursday 29 November 2012 at the University of Edinburgh’s George Square lecture theatre.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

The changing role of the ‘housewife’

Tuesday 5th August 2014

Forty years on from the publication of her landmark book Housewife, ANN OAKLEY talks to the Morning Star [about] modern feminism and gender roles today

THIS year marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Ann Oakley’s Housewife.

Based on Oakley’s PhD research, the pioneering feminist book looks at the role of the housewife in modern industrialised society.

“The study of domestic labour was not taken seriously at all — it wasn’t understood to be a topic, in fact,” Oakley tells me as we sit in her office at the Institute for Education in London where she is professor of sociology and social policy.

During her research, Oakley, now 70, interviewed 40 women living in suburban London. She found they tended to be dissatisfied because of the monotony, fragmentation and social isolation inherent in the role of housewife.

Therefore, as “housework is directly opposed to the possibility of human self-actualisation,” she concluded with a call to abolish the housewife role.

“I was being deliberately provocative,” she explains about the book’s final chapter which also called for the abolition of the traditional family and the abolition of traditional gender roles.

Four decades later, what’s changed?

“I think the whole notion of women being housewives has changed,” she replies.

“If you asked women now to talk about themselves as housewives they wouldn’t know what you were talking about really.”

But while she concedes men do more housework today, she explains it’s still not equal.

“I don’t think there is any study in the world which shows it’s equal.”

Sure enough, in the newly published 2014 Global Trends survey, 70 per cent of British women said they are mostly responsible for cooking, food shopping and household cleaning.

These findings are supported by research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2013) and the Institute for Public Policy Research (2012), both of which show British women still do the lion’s share of domestic labour.

“Most of the change that has happened since the ’70s has been, in my view, fairly superficial,” Oakley says.

“The change in behaviour is probably less than the professed attitude — what people say is more egalitarian than what they do.”

In particular, Oakley’s 1970s research was interested in the inequality of responsibility.

“In so far as men did housework it was construed by the men and women as him helping her with the housework — not the other way round.

“In terms of the issue of responsibility, what happened in the 1970s is still happening now.”

When men do pitch in, studies show they generally end up doing the tasks that are arguably more enjoyable and leisurely — gardening and DIY, for example.

Oakley agrees. “In the area of childcare, it’s still the case that men are more likely to be doing the more enjoyable side of childcare, rather than changing the dirty nappies.”

So why does this grossly unfair status quo continue?

“Patriarchy is the simple explanation,” Oakley argues.

“Men are a privileged group and there is no reason they should give up their privilege unless they are forced to do so.” This is where feminism comes in. “Most of the change in men’s behaviour, I suspect, has come about because the women they are involved with have put pressure on them to change. Men haven’t, en masse, decided that housework is a good thing to do.”

Oakley sees increasing men’s involvement in housework and childcare as an important step in addressing the social problem of masculinity — a topic she explored in a 2011 Guardian article co-written with fellow feminist academic Cynthia Cockburn.

Quoting government statistics, they noted: “Men were perpetrators in 91 per cent of all violent incidents in England and Wales … 81 per cent for domestic violence, 86 per cent for assault, 94 per cent for wounding, 96 per cent for mugging, 98 per cent for robbery.”

In addition, Ministry of Justice figures show men to be responsible for 98 per cent of sexual offences, 92 per cent of drug offences and 89 per cent of criminal damage.

“The evidence is that being involved in basic care work, being involved in very close relationships with dependent people including children, is something that brings out qualities which are traditionally associated with being a woman — caring, altruism and all that,” Oakley says.

“That happens with men too, but they have to first of all be willing to put themselves in the position so those changes can occur.”

According to 2011 research by Churchill Home Insurers, one in seven of the population pay for outside hired help to do housework. Oakley doesn’t buy this as a solution to the problem.

“That’s not a solution because very often the people who are hired are women and they are underpaid, their job conditions and security are not good,” she says.

“And usually it is the woman in the household who is responsible for looking after the hired help. So you’ve simply passed the oppression on in some sense.”

Oakley’s politics and research interests were energised by the second-wave feminism of the early 1970s.

Forty years later, many commentators argue we are currently in the midst of fourth-wave feminism, with groups and campaigns such as UK Feminista, Everyday Sexism and No More Page 3 evidence of renewed feminist activism.

“I don’t know enough about it really,” Oakley admits when I ask her about the resurgent movement.

However, she feels that some of the media discussions around contemporary feminism she is aware of have little in common with the women’s liberation movement of the ’70s.

She points to the current focus on the representation of women in positions of power. “We were not arguing for women’s share of the top jobs. We were talking about basic issues, we were arguing on the level of basic reproductive rights and access to childcare — state-provided childcare. It was all about doing something about the domestic oppression and not about undoing the privilege at the top.”

Rather than getting a bigger portion of the pie, she argues, “it was about changing the pie. We wanted a different kind of pie.”

She is philosophical when I suggest that her work, and the work of many other feminists from her generation, is rarely cited in the popular feminist polemics being published today.

“Time moves on — it’s one of the sad things that so much has to be rediscovered time and again,” she says.

In fact she says she found one book that referred to her as dead — “The late Ann Oakley.”

“I’m not late in the sense I’m dead and also I’m quite a punctual person,” she quips.

Having read Housewife and Oakley’s stupendously good Gender and Planet Earth — a book that moves from men and meat-eating to critiquing post-modernism — I can safely say contemporary feminism is missing a lot by ignoring Oakley’s groundbreaking work.

As the recent surveys mentioned above show, housework continues to be a source of inequality between men and women.

Housewife could therefore be the key text in the revival of feminist concern over housework that must take place if women are to gain any semblance of equality in the future.

USA: “For only five nights in the fall of 1973, a documentary called ‘Year of the Woman’ played at the Fifth Avenue Cinema in Greenwich Village. Crowds lined up around the block. Arthur Schlesinger Jr., described it as ‘the greatest combination of sex and politics ever seen in a film.’ And then ‘Year of the Woman’ all but vanished for 42 years, robbing us of a movie that captures — in its raucous, weird, unmistakably ’70s style — one of the most pivotal moments in feminist history.”[HuffPost]

Anti-Semitic misogynists attack British feminist author

This video from Britain is called Laurie Penny: Cybersexism.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Unspeakable Things: Feminist author Laurie Penny subjected to ‘vile sexist and anti-Semitic abuse‘ over her book

Feminist author Laurie Penny has been subjected to “a stream of vile sexist and anti-Semitic abuse” as part of a campaign against her book Unspeakable Things, she says.

The book, released two weeks ago, was hailed by the likes of Irvine Welsh who said it was essential reading “for anybody who truly believes in equality and freedom”.

However in a blog post Ms Penny said she had had “quite a weekend” as she experienced a “predictable sexist troll backlash”.

“In the past 24 hours, I have been subjected to a stream of vile sexist and anti-semitic abuse on Twitter and elsewhere,” she wrote.

“This has become a normal part of my life as a person who dares to write in public whilst being both female and left-wing, but this weekend it’s been particularly full on.

Rape fantasies and pictures of dead children were coming faster than I could block individual users.

“In the end I had to step away from the internet, which was a pain because I need the internet to work.”

She said more than 20 one-star reviews had been posted on her books Amazon page which were “full of vile sexist and scatological language … almost all of them from users who had reviewed nothing else”.

“I’ve taken screenshots. Amazon ratings really do matter to the publishing industry, and this is an obvious attempt at sabotage” she said. “Clearly, this book, and the fact that I’ve written it, is making some bedroom misogynists incredibly angry.

“Somewhat ironic, given that there’s a whole chapter in the book about how structural sexism works online.

“I am sick of this bullshit. Criticism is one thing – and the book has received its fair share of that from writers who think it’s too personal, too politically strident, too left-wing, too queer or too dark, as well as rave reviews from critics who love it for precisely the same reasons.”

But Ms Penny, a contributing editor at the New Statesman who lives in London, said the comments were “not fair criticism, any more than the men who’ve been sending me death threats for years are merely expressing their opinions”.

According to her publishers, Unspeakable Things is a “ruthless” dissection of modern feminism and class politics.

“This is a book about poverty and prejudice, online dating and eating disorders, riots in the streets and lies on the television,” it says. “The backlash is on against sexual freedom for men and women and social justice ¬– and feminism needs to get braver. Penny speaks for a new feminism that takes no prisoners, a feminism that is about justice and equality, but also about freedom for all.”

Ms Penny’s tweet about the abuse retweeted more than 500 times on Sunday night by people including the author Neil Gaiman.

International Women’s Day censorship in Canada

This video from Canada is called International Women’s Day Rally 2013 – Vancouver Art Gallery – Friday March 8 – Patriarchy Chant.

By Veronica Strong-Boag in Canada:

Women’s Day blog censored by Canadian Museum for Human Rights, says author

March 10, 2014

Author’s note: This post was commissioned as an IWD blog by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. It was initially approved and posted by the Museum on 4 March 2014. It was, however, almost immediately withdrawn as ‘Communications’ at the Museum deemed the one line comment on the current federal Conservative government unacceptable as written. The offer of a substantive footnote and illustrative example from the author brought no reply. has reposted this time-sensitive contribution here, to which examples of anti-women policies and a footnote have been added.

International Women’s Day on 8th March should be a key date in the human rights calendar. Its place is hard-won. When Charlotte Bunch, a leading figure in the creation of UN Women (2010), insisted in 1990 that women’s rights are human rights in the Human Rights Quarterly and Edward Broadbent, from the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, served in 1993 as a judge in the Vienna Tribunal on Women’s Human Rights, one half of humanity’s entitlement to fair dealing remained globally contested. That struggle continues.

Although recognition that women’s rights are human rights pre-dates even writings of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) in the western tradition, IWD emerged in 1908 with a mass women suffrage meeting organized by American socialists. By 1911 the idea had reached Europe, where again it persisted as a special interest of the left. Unlike ‘Mother’s Day,’ also first observed in 1908, which celebrated women as maternal and peace-loving, IWD initially concentrated on waged and industrial labour. Early champions such as the German socialist Clara Zetkin (1857-1933) intended to highlight tragedies such as the 1911 New York Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and economic oppression generally. When IWD became an official holiday in Russia after 1917 and in the new People’s Republic of China in 1949, even as both countries failed to offer equality, liberal democracies, not to mention dictatorships, shied away.

Champions of equality, however, persisted. 20th century wars and genocides prompted international action. The United Nations, like the earlier League of Nations, proved influential, producing Conventions on the Political Rights of Women (1952), on the Nationality of Married Women (1957), and on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages (1962). By the 1960s, the second great feminist wave took up the unfinished agenda of fundamental human rights. Its message infused International Women’s Year (1975), the International Decade of Women (1976-85), and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW; 1979).

IWD was another beneficiary. In 1977 the UN encouraged members to proclaim 8th March ‘the UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.’ The linkage of women and peace (remember Mother’s Day) was familiar. Far newer was recognition of violence against women in both war and peace as a major human rights violation.

This was not the only shift. By the close of the 20th century, the IWD feminist grassroots in Canada as elsewhere emphasized the role of class, race, sexuality, and (dis)ability in further jeopardizing particular groups. Although Canadians grew increasingly sensitive to human rights, state approval included the threat of cooptation. In 2014 Canada’s Conservative government left its anti-woman record unmentioned (which included withdrawal of plans for a national child care program and major cuts to Status of Women Canada [2006], the prohibition of civil servants taking pay equity complaints to the Human Rights Commission [2009], the denial of international funding for abortion [2010], and major cuts to public services that employ and serve significant numbers of women)[1] as it dedicated IWD week to the ‘valuable contribution of women entrepreneurs.’

For the moment, despite herculean efforts by loyalists, the IWD spirit often resides elsewhere than in official commitments. In 1991, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside inaugurated 14th February as a Day of Remembrance for murdered and missing women. As losses mounted across the country and around the world, that tragic record drew increasing censure. The UN appointed a special rapporteur on violence against women while the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action provided on-going proof of abuse for the UN CEDAW Committee. In 2014, nation-wide Valentine’s Day protests once again illuminated the plight of particularly disadvantaged women. The Canadian human rights calendar now properly includes the day previously evocative solely of romance.

The 8th of March should not, however, be abandoned. The IWD’s vision of ‘bread and roses’ does not rely on UN approval, for all its value. Like much feminist accomplishment, it has been hard forged on picket lines, in women’s shelters, in political life, and in private homes. With its rich history of resistance and celebration, IWD remains a key marker of how far we have come and how much remains to be done when it comes to women’s human rights in Canada and around the globe. On 8 March 2014, like many others, I will be renewing my commitment to a more just future.

1. For an introduction to this see Sylvia Bashevkin, “Regress trumps progress: women, feminism and the Harper government,” Perspective/FES Washington (July 2012),

Veronica Strong-Boag, the author and editor of many scholarly books and articles, received the Tyrrell Medal for excellence in Canadian history from the Royal Society of Canada in 2012 and is a former president of the Canadian Historical Association. She is a Professor Emerita at UBC and at the moment the Ashley Visiting Professor at Trent.

This blog post is reprinted with permission from

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Suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst, exhibition in London

This video from Britain is about Sylvia Pankhurst.

From Women’s Views on News:

Sylvia Pankhurst at the Tate Britain

Posted by Sue Tapply on Feb 12, 2014

Sylvia Pankhurst made a profound impact on the fight for women’s rights as both an artist and a campaigner.

A display about Sylvia Pankhurst at London’s Tate Britain, devised by curator Emma Chambers with The Emily Davison Lodge as part of the Tate’s Spotlight series is up and running – until 23 March.

Sylvia Pankhurst trained at the Manchester Municipal School of Art where she won a host of awards before gaining a 2-year scholarship to the Royal College of Art – with the distinction of having the highest grades of any candidate.

She went on to be a key figure in the work of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) set up with her mother Emmeline and sister Christabel in 1903, using her artistic skills to further the cause.

Pankhurst’s lifelong interest was in the rights of working women, and she used her artistic skills in the fight for women’s rights, designing badges, banners and flyers, and recording the lives of working women.

In 1907 she spent several months touring industrial communities documenting the working and living conditions of women workers.

Living in the communities she studied, she painted and wrote about industrial processes and the women who performed them.

Working in gouache, which she found ideal for working quickly under factory conditions, her studies of women at work were unusual for the time in their unsentimental observation and their focus on individual workers.

Pankhurst’s detailed account of working conditions and wages was published as an illustrated article ‘Women Workers of England’ in the London Magazine in November 1908, and as a series of articles on individual trades in the WSPU journal Votes for Women between 1908 and 1911.

Her combination of artworks with written accounts provided a vivid picture of the lives of women workers and made a powerful argument for improvement in working conditions and pay equality with men.

Writing about the ‘pit-brow lassies’ of Wigan, Pankhurst said: ‘In spite of their great strength and the arduous labours they perform, they are, like most other women workers, very poorly paid…

‘A bankswoman earns from 1s 10d to 2s 4d; whilst a banksman, doing exactly the same work gets from 4s 9d to 5s a day.

‘It is this question of underpayment that is at the root of most of the hardship and suffering.’

Pankhurst’s designs for the WSPU quickly evolved from depicting women workers in a socialist realist style, as seen on an early membership card which reflects the origins of the WSPU in the Manchester labour movement.

She began to develop more symbolic representations of the organisation’s ideals and values, designing several key images which were extensively used on printed materials, banners, badges and crockery.

All of these were executed in the WSPU colours of purple, white and green, introduced by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence in 1908 and symbolising dignity, purity and hope.

Sylvia Pankhurst's Angel of FreedomPankhurst designed badges, banners and flyers for the WSPU. Her most widely used work was her symbolic ‘angel of freedom’ blowing a trumpet, which became an essential element of the visual image of the campaign, alongside the WSPU colours of white, green and purple.

Others included a woman breaking free from prison gates, stepping over broken chains and carrying a ‘votes for women’ streamer, and a woman sowing the seeds of emancipation.

As the suffrage campaign intensified she struggled to balance her artistic and political work, and in 1912 she gave up art to devote herself to the East London Federation of Suffragettes, the organisation she founded to ensure that working-class women were represented in the suffrage campaign.

Pankhurst was one of many women artists involved in creating designs for the suffrage campaign and active in militant protest. She was imprisoned many times and endured weeks and months of hunger, thirst and sleep strikes in Holloway Prison.

She wrote several books, including a book calling on the reform of maternity care, Save the Mothers, published in 1930, a history of the struggle for the vote, The Suffrage Movement, published in 1931 and an account of her war experiences in the East End, The Home Front published in 1932.

She was active in politics throughout her life. She moved to Ethiopia in 1956, where she helped to found the Social Service Society and edited a monthly periodical, the Ethiopia Observer, and died in Addis Ababa, on 27 September 1960.

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British suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst, new biography interview

This video from Britain says about herself:

2 Feb 2011

This is the trailer for the inspiring new feature length documentary Sylvia Pankhurst: Everything is possible now available on DVD from the charity WORLDwrite. The full film is packed with little-known facts, rare archive imagery, expert interviews and exclusive testimony from Sylvia’s son, Richard Pankhurst and his wife Rita. The campaigns Sylvia led embraced far more than ‘votes for women’ as she uniquely understood the fight for democratic rights required a challenge to the system. For full details visit

By Louise Raw in Britain:

What would Sylvia do? lessons from history

Friday 24th January 2014

LOUISE RAW speaks to writer and activist Katherine Connelly about her new book on Sylvia Pankhurst why her legacy still matters today

Katherine Connelly wants to change the world. While she’s by no means alone in that, the extent to which she’s already had a good crack at it is impressive.

Having talked to her at length, I’m not surprised to learn that her first foray into the proud ranks of the awkward squad came during primary school, where she campaigned, successfully, against a uniform policy that banned girls from wearing trousers.

In fact, the only wonder is that she waited so long and wasn’t organising nursery school walkouts – toddle-outs? – against nap time.

By the age of 17 Connelly was leading a student strike against the Iraq war.

In 2013 she co-ordinated the Emily Wilding Davison Memorial Campaign to celebrate the centenary of the suffragette’s death at the Epsom Derby.

Despite a marked lack of enthusiasm from the Derby committee, which rejected the idea of a minute’s silence in memory of Davison’s fatal protest as too upsetting for their well-heeled guests (whether it was her death or the painful reminder of women getting the vote that was potentially distressing remains unclear), Connelly was instrumental in bringing the matter to public attention via the Channel 4 documentary on Davison presented by Clare “National Treasure” Balding.

Even as a PhD student there are no flies on Connelly. Many have studied the writings of Karl Marx, but few made the savvy decision to focus on the influence of Parisian popular culture on the same, necessitating – quel dommage – frequent trips to Paris.

I say this with no trace of bitterness. East London, the locus of my own thesis, being equally lovely in the springtime.

Twenty-thirteen also saw Connelly – still, disconcertingly, only 27 – somehow find the time to produce a significant new work on the life and politics of Sylvia Pankhurst.

Those of us who haven’t even got as far as making new year resolutions may feel slightly exhausted by this persistent polymathery.

However, I must report that Connelly is not only charming and modest in person, but as bracingly and sincerely political as one could wish for.

She is entirely serious about wanting to change the world, and not in a nebulous way – she has refined upon the careers of the likes of past lefty greats in order to extract useful lessons from history.

The Pankhurst book accordingly provides insight into the logistics of building mass movements alongside the biography.

It in part is something of a handbook for today’s activists, and its timing is significant. She tells me: “With the explosion in mass movements, there is a new relevance in Sylvia’s ideas and a new generation of protesters who could benefit from them.”

It’s an intriguing idea – there is, too often, a disconnect between political generations which can lead to hard-won wisdom being lost and necessitate the constant reinvention of various wheels.

It’s all too easy to rest on one’s laurels and criticise new forms of protest and political engagement, but this serves little purpose when the left so badly needs to unite its troops against capitalism, not each other.

If anyone understood the need to concentrate on issues not personalities it was Pankhurst, who grew up with some of the biggest in the suffrage movement.

Her break with her mother and sister, Christabel and Emmeline, and from the Women’s Social and Political Union is well-known, but the complex reasons for it perhaps less so.

Sylvia Pankhurst’s analysis of class had set her apart from Christabel, in particular, well before the ultimate rupture.

Her politics had been strongly influenced by those of her father Richard.

Known, rather wonderfully, as the Red Doctor, Richard Pankhurst was a qualified barrister but campaigned tirelessly for numerous causes as well as suffrage, including – deep breath – Irish home rule, Indian independence, secular education, disestablishment of the Church of England and abolition of the House of Lords.

He was responsible for drafting the Women’s Disabilities Removal Bill, the first women’s suffrage Bill in England.

With his younger wife Emmeline, he formed the Women’s Franchise League in 1889. The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was established at the Pankhurst family home in Manchester in 1903.

Richard Pankhurst stood for Parliament twice, unsuccessfully, before dying suddenly when Sylvia was 16.

But she never forgot the lessons she learned at his side. With him she had met and listened to working-class families. In the late 1800s, it was nothing new for members of the middle and upper classes to be moved by the squalid conditions workers’ endured – indeed it was somewhat de rigueur – but what resulted was often a kind of detached philanthropy, rather than a deeper political analysis.

Pankhurst, by contrast, felt a passionate fury at the injustices she witnessed, far removed from a mere patrician inclination to dispense alms.

“The misery … revealed in those pinched faces … awoke in me a maddening sense of impotence; and there were moments when I had the impulse to dash my head against the dreary walls of those squalid streets.”

Pankhurst’s understanding of the centrality of class stayed with her in the course of her work in the suffrage movement, though her refusal to abandon it would have far-reaching personal consequences for her.

Connelly’s book brings the desperate struggle for the vote vividly to life, exposing the reality behind popular myth. Here, suffragettes are not faintly comedic, scatty middle-class housewives and spinsters – no shades of Mary Poppins’s Mrs Banks – but in deadly political earnest.

Winston Churchill is not a great British hero but aggressively anti-suffrage and, frankly, a bit of an all-round git – something to remember as we face a Govian jingofest around war and nationalism.

And the suffrage movement was faced with a great deal more than polite Edwardian tutting. It was so transgressive and threatening that the state responded with extreme brutality and literal torture.

As Connelly points out, Pankhurst had cause to give considerable thought to the roles and effectiveness of mass demonstrations and direct action in the fight against oppression.

The famous split in the WSPU, and in the Pankhurst family, was far more complicated than a division between those who favoured civil disobedience and those who did not.

Pankhurst’s position was nuanced, but always anti-elitist.

Her uneasiness with her mother and sister’s leadership of the WSPU was not over the increasing violence of their tactics per se, but their move away from inclusivity.

The perceived failure of a mass demo in 1906, which despite its size was completely ignored by the government, led the WSPU leadership to question the usefulness of mass protest.

This was the beginning of a shift towards a more middle-class movement which Pankhurst could not support.

Hers was an eternal mission to explain and, accordingly, to include. If you wished to win hearts and minds, she believed, it was vital to ensure the wider world understood both your cause and your tactics.

Thus when Christabel initiated a secret arson campaign, Pankhurst opposed it largely because she felt it could be misconstrued and alienate public opinion.

While the courage of suffrage activists enduring imprisonment and force-feeding was plain to see and had won considerable sympathy for the cause, arson was far less heroic, especially should it have innocent and unintended victims.

Pankhurst herself experienced horrifically brutal force-feeding, but it was not only in prison that suffrage campaigners faced violence.

Pankhurst was constantly attacked while campaigning with the WSPU’s East London Federation of Suffragettes (delightfully known as the ELFS). Meetings were frequently disrupted and Pankhurst herself was “never free from numerous bruises.”

Pankhurst had deliberately chosen London’s East End as the locus of her efforts to rebuild the ailing women’s movement.

East London was just one of many large, extremely poor working-class communities but crucially positioned.

It was close enough to rich London that the more affluent and powerful could not turn a completely blind eye to it and within marching distance of Parliament.

She was not the first to capitalise on this – the matchwomen and dockers who struck in 1888 and 1889 also used their east London location to great effect.

Pankhurst’s desire to build a “strong, self-reliant” working-class movement was at increasing odds with WSPU policy. As working-class ELF Annie Barnes later recalled, “Sylvia wasn’t like her mother … only interested in getting the vote for rich women. Sylvia disagreed. ‘My father launched the campaign for … all women … and I’m carrying it on’.”

Released from prison under the Liberal government’s pernicious Cat and Mouse Act – which ejected imprisoned suffragettes whose health was failing due to hunger strike and force-feeding so that they could recuperate at home, only to be rearrested – Pankhurst went to live with her friends Mr and Mrs Payne, who were shoemakers, in a small room in their house in Old Ford.

The inevitable breach with the WSPU – and with her mother and sister – came in 1913.

Pankhurst spoke in support of the Dublin lockout, while the increasingly right-wing Christabel made alliances with the Ulster loyalists.

Pankhurst was summoned to Paris, where Christabel had been living in comfortable exile for two years, and was told the ELF must sever completely from the WSPU.

The rift would be permanent, and the breach with her mother caused Pankhurst much pain.

Back in east London, Pankhurst continued to work tirelessly for the community, more than once giving the food from her table and blankets from her bed to those in extreme need.

She distributed free milk for malnourished babies and worked for compensation for soldiers wounded on the front line – in a war she had opposed vocally and constantly from its beginning, in the face of an initial wave of semi-hysterical patriotism.

However she was careful never to stray into mere charity – her aim was always to empower working-class women to fight for themselves.

The winning of the vote was by no means an end for Pankhurst. She spent her entire life campaigning and was a committed anti-fascist and anti-imperialist throughout two world wars and beyond.

She was also a thorn in the side of the British government to the end.

She lobbied tirelessly in support of Ethiopia after the Italian invasion and received death threats from London Italian fascists for her trouble – ‘”You will pay with your life if you publish any [fascist’s ] name in your paper.”

She died in 1960, having championed the cause of the oppressed all her days.

Connelly’s book is no hagiography and does not shy away from assessing the degree to which Pankhurst was a voluntarist rather than revolutionary.

However she provides a welcome insight into the life and mind of an extraordinary campaigner.

As a very active activist herself, Connelly knows her territory and wants the lessons of Pankhurst’s political life to inform and guide us today.

After the book was published, Connelly received a disconcerting object lesson in how little things have changed for those who challenge the status quo.

Her friend and flatmate is Sam Fairbairn of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

As the Star exclusively reported, their home was the target of what seems to have been an organised raid, in which cash and valuables were untouched, but documents rifled in a methodical manner.

Connelly’s mother, the playwright Ros Connelly, overheard the police called to the scene saying they “wouldn’t be surprised if that was us” as they left.

Though understandably alarmed, Connelly is undeterred – and perhaps recalling her subject’s own words at the end of her life, “I have never deserted a cause in its days of hardship and adversity.”

Something of an understatement, but a typically clear-eyed and modest summary of, and by, a remarkable woman.

Louise Raw is the author of Striking a Light: The Bryant & May Matchwomen and their Place in History (Continuum Bloomsbury).

Katherine Connelly’s book Sylvia Pankhurst: Suffragette, Socialist and Scourge of Empire (Pluto Press) can be purchased from

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