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Changing the World is urgent!

By Almerinda Bento (+ Coordination portugaise/portuguese coordinating body/coordinación portugesa)

The Charter and the Patchwork Quilt arrived in Portugal on Sunday, May 15th. They were brought from Brindisi by Lia Caprera and received in the airport by a small delegation of the Portuguese coordination. In the suitcase brought by Lia we found the Charter and the first 22 squares of the Patchwork Quilt, the material results of the actions, demonstrations, protests, demands and desires of thousands of women, expressed in many different languages, all united around the Charter and the activities of the World March of Women, initiated on March 8th.

Before the arrival of the Charter and Patchwork Quilt, the Portuguese coordination had already begun its actions: a delegation of the coordination was present at the “Alternatives and Resistances” Forum in Évora, on May 14th. The coordination organised a workshop about the Women’s Global Charter for Humanity, which was very successful and well attended. It also displayed a stall with leaflets, posters, banners, pencils and bags, where people attending the Forum could sign a petition supporting the Charter. In the nine islands of the archipelago of the Azores, the actions had also already begun – women in the Azores prepared a square for the national Patchwork Quilt. (see the spanish section ).

The public presentation of the Charter and the Portuguese square for the Patchwork Quilt took place on May 16th, at the Library / Museum “Republic and Resistance”. Several women, feminists, committed activists for women’s rights, some men and many young women (the Portuguese coordination has a very strong representation of young women) were present in this action. The Charter was read by people in the audience, the Portuguese square was revealed by its designer, Ana Salazar, and the manifesto with the demands of the Portuguese Coordination was presented. Elsa Noronha, a poet from Mozambique, closed the session with a few poems about women. It was a very meaningful event and the women present made it truly inspiring.  

On May 17th the coordination met with members of four of the five parties represented in the Parliament. They were given files with information about the March and the Charter and a list of the 700 names of women and men who signed the petition supporting the Charter, including several members of Parliament, the artist Paula Rego, the writer Lídia Jorge and several intellectuals, researchers, academics, citizens. The aim of these meetings was to present the manifesto of the Portuguese coordination and discuss it with the elected representatives in Parliament, encouraging them to take up our challenge of social change, because we find that changing the world is urgent. We underlined the importance and urgency of changing the legislation regarding abortion, in order to bring an end to the humiliating trials of Portuguese women who have aborted; implementing mechanisms to protect women who suffer domestic violence; of ensuring a fair and visible representation of women in all dimensions and levels of social and political decision-making; taking measures to fight poverty, unemployment and precarious employment, phenomena that affect mostly women; respecting and applying in practice the Constitutional prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, origin, etc. Other aspects were also identified in the Portuguese manifesto, but these were the ones we felt were most relevant.

At the same time, outside the Parliament, a group of supporters of the March awaited the end of the meetings and gave interviews to the press. In this day, the Coordination also supported and accompanied representatives of Portuguese LGBT organisations that submitted to the Parliament a petition with more than 2000 signatures asking that May 17th be recognised as the International Day against Homophobia. 

The Charter and Quilt were then taken to Coimbra, where two street actions were organised by AJP (Association for Justice and Peace), the Academic Association of Coimbra and Não te prives (Group for the Defense of Sexual Rights) on May 18th in two different places of the city, as well as a press conference / debate with the presence of a researcher from the Centre for Social Studies and a representative of a textile trade union. Many innovative things and thoughts were made possible during this day: it was possible to see, touch and discuss the Quilt and the Charter, with women and men of all ages, it was possible to collect more than 300 signatures supporting the Charter and the World it describes, it was possible to see a play prepared and performed by female Drama students and teachers using rhythm, image and sound to represent the urgency of social change, it was possible to debate the World March of Women with over 50 people, it was possible to listen to the music of the World March of Women, “Kapire” - it was, in the end, possible to practice and experiment other ways of doing and of being in the World, occupying different public spaces of Coimbra.

In Porto, on May 19th, there was a press conference at the Faculty of Psychology and Education. Five women representing different organisations included in the Portuguese coordination talked about their work, presented the projects they are undertaking in this region of the country and read the values of the Charter. Alexandra César, a Portuguese woman living in Québec and currently on holiday in Portugal, who was present in several of the Portuguese actions, also read one of the values of the Charter. Fina d’Armada spoke about the importance of the World March of Women and of the bonds it creates and strengthens, defying the ideas of female rivalry into which we are socialised. The Patchwork Quilt and the Charter were displayed in the room and many young women and men observed and discussed it. Journalists from two regional newspapers were present, and on the following day two articles and an excellent photo were published in these newspapers. The journalists were very interested in the “Children’s Patchwork Quilt”, produced in the context of a project undertaken in schools by UMAR to prevent violence against women and raise children’s awareness of this problem.

On May 20th, a delegation of the Portuguese coordination left Caminha and crossed the river Minho in a ferryboat, accompanied by boats with Portuguese and Galician female rowers. In the pier of A Guarda, hundreds of women and men from Galiza awaited the arrival of the Charter and Quilt from Portugal. It was a beautiful moment of connection of the two sides of the river, of sisterhood and solidarity between the women of the world, independently of their language and origin, as described in the Charter relayed by us on that sunny afternoon.

This was followed by a party in which, amongst several other interventions, the Portuguese representative Maria José Magalhães described the actions organised in Portugal and the struggles we are still facing, ending with a poem from “As Novas Cartas Portuguesas” by the Three Marias, a thirty-year-old poem written during the period of the dictatorship, but still very pertinent, with a message that matches the content of the Charter, the relay of the Charter by boat and the proximity of our struggles in these global actions of the March.

The World March of Women in the autonomous region of the Azores

In the Azores, a Portuguese archipelago of nine islands located in the Atlantic Ocean, UMAR (União de Mulheres Alternativa e Resposta) launched the actions of the World March of Women in the island of Flores – the western point of Europe – on May 15th, the same day the Charter arrived in Portugal.

There took place a public presentation of the Charter to the representatives of the Regional Legislative Assembly of Azores and the visit of an institution of social solidarity, the Holy House of Mercy. The day before a meeting was held on the theme “Equality of genders and domestic violence”

Previously and as a prior action to the arrival of the relay, UMAR participated in the island of Santa María to the Asembly of Citizenship where the March presented itself amongst the groups “Globalization and Autonomies”, which also visited the high school in Vila do Porto.

The March then continued its journey on the island of São Miguel, with the following programme of activities: a public exhibit of children drawings, photographs and information on the March in Ponta Delgada on 16th, which moved on 18th to Ribeira Grande where also took place a seminar on the “Psychosocial Consequences of Violence” that brought together around one hundred people. On 19th was held the handing over of the Global Charter to the Secretary of the Regional Governor in Ponta Delgada and, simultaneously in the island of Santa María, to the President of the City Hall of Vila do Porto and to the Association of the towns of the autonomous region of Azores. In the island of São Miguel, the actions were coordinated by a platform of associations of the area of Equality: the association “Crescer em Confiança”, “Novo Dia”, the Women’s Help Center of Ponta Delgada, the “Centro de Bem-Estar Social do Livramento”, and UMAR. Moreover, a debate took place on June 8th about the decriminalization of abortion in Portugal and about the launching of the book “A História da Problemática da Mulher”.

After the presence of a delegation of three persons of the Azores in Marseilles, the March went to the island of Terceira in the month of June. Coinciding with the famous holidays of São Joaninas, the Women’s Global Charter for Humanity was handed over on June 17th to the Minister of the Republic for the Autonomous Region of the Azores. The day after, a public exhibition was held on the March in a stand built put up for the festivities, cloturing the activities with various workshops on the March, violence, poverty, abortion and equality of genders. There was, amongst others, a workshop with a group of elderly women from São Mateus, a group of women spouses of fishermen, and students of a nursing faculty.

The March will continue to visit other islands until the final arrival of the Charter in October in Ouagadougou, with its attention turned to the islands of São Jorge and of Faial for the months of July and August, respectively.


Five values for humanity

by Eva Gonzaléz /A GUARDA

A few hundred people participated in this symbolic act which demands equality, solidarity, justice, freedom and peace

The Women’s Global Charter for Humanity arrived yesterday by sea to the quay of A Pasaxe, in Camposancos (A Guarda). Portuguese women brought the Patchwork quilt of solidarity, made by pieces given by women and associations from countries that it crossed, it’s a great symbol among acts of demands in favour of woman.

The enthusiasm reigned during the march, from the landing of the delegates and the symbols, up to the theatre of the maritime station where took place the event. Beforehand, rowers of clubs A Robaleira, Chapela, Mecos de O Grove, Bueu y Caminhense, offered a beautiful spectacle by accompanying the ferryboat from its departure in Caminha (Portugal). “The rowers of traineras are an example of the discrimination made to the women”, agree Carmen Barbosa Pacheco, treasurer of the Club A Robaleira and the president of the association Atalaia; Manoli Pacheco, secretary of A Robaleira and Juan Ramón Outeda, president of the Mecos de O Grove. They explained that “women are not allowed to make the competition with traineras, even if their performance is equal to that of the men. Nobody does anything to change this situation”, which they want to correct.

They have been a living example. In the same event, we listened to demands as this one of Lupe Ces: “we do not like the war which kills us, nor a peace which oppresses us”. This woman, who was present during the elaboration of the Charter in Kigali (in Rwanda), highlighted five values that the Charter presents: equality, solidarity, justice, freedom and peace.

Carmen Barbosa, another woman, and two girls of the San Xerónimo Emiliani college read several articles of the Charter. The text begins by explaining that “We, the women, walk to denounce and demand the end of the oppression we live as women”. The coordinator of A Guarda, Eva Cividanes, presented all the interventions which began with the numerous Portuguese delegation, holding as backcloth the piece of quilt made by the women of Atalaia, where stand out two interlaced needles. In the assistance, there were some well-known faces, as the Mayoress of Mos, María Jesús Escudero and the councillor Concepción Martínez; the author-singer Tino Baz; and councillors of A Guarda, among others.

We listened to feminine voices and independent flags made their appearance, others also from labor committees, besides the one who symbolizes the March, which is color purple.


Last modified 2006-02-16 10:40 AM
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