Million Women Rise

On the 10.10.10 the first Million Women Rise march was held in Manchester. RAWA Solidarity Scotland attended the demonstration.

What is Million Women Rise?

The Million Women Rise Coalition is a diverse group of individual women and women representatives from the Voluntary and Community Sector who are united by our outrage at the continued daily, hourly, minute-by-minute individual and institutionalised male violence enacted against women worldwide. Million Women Rise believe that every woman and child has a right to live free from violence and that ongoing violence devastates not only the lives of the individuals directly affected but also the communities of which they are part. Million Women Rise create a space where we can come together to organise a national demonstration against violence against women.

Find out more about them here: www.millionwomenrise.com

RAWA Solidarity Scotland’s Involvement

RAWA Solidarity Scotland were asked to speak at the rally after the march, which gave us a great opportunity to spread RAWA’s message and generate greater awareness of the situation in Afghanistan.  Below is a copy of the speech that was made by one of our members.

Speech about RAWA (The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan)

I have come here today to tell you about a particularly inspiring example of women who organise together to fight against violence – The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan – a secular, feminist, pro-democracy movement run by women in Afghanistan (who I shall refer to as RAWA.) The story of RAWA is an important reminder of the incredible power and resilience of women in the face of adversity.

Many people respond to the concept of The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan with disbelief, simply because it contradicts so many of the stereotypes of Afghan women that are presented to us in the main steam media. But the image of Afghan women, silent and passive under the shroud of the burqa, does not tell the truth about the lives of women in Afghanistan, nor of their fierce resistance.

Far from being silent and passive, the women involved in RAWA have been the lone independent voice calling for equality, freedom, and peace in Afghanistan. Since 1977 RAWA has been fighting relentlessly against violence in all its forms; the violence of enforced illiteracy, the violence of not having access to medical facilities, the violence of economic dependency and poverty, the violence of physical abuse, the violence of misogynist traditions, warlords, and governments, and the violence of war.

Throughout all the different oppressive regimes that have plagued Afghanistan, RAWA has responded with outrage and practical action. They have opened schools for girls deprived the right to education, founded orphanages to house the victims of war, supported women forced into prostitution by poverty, provided women with literacy and vocational courses, conducted nursing courses and opened medical clinics. They have fed, clothed and sheltered thousands of Afghan refugees displaced by war. And they have also, countless times, taken to the streets in demonstration of their refusal to submit to violence and oppression, just as we have today.

But RAWA’s progressive feminist ideology and their opposition to foreign occupation, has led to a complete lack of recognition and support by international governments. According to politicians, it is the current U.S and NATO led war that will achieve women’s liberation in Afghanistan, not women themselves. But how can war, which disproportionately effects women and girls and is violence against women on a mass scale, be the key to women’s liberation? In effectively replacing one misogynist regime with another, western governments have once again ignored the voices of women demanding real change.

RAWA’s tells us that only from the grass roots, united, can women liberate themselves from oppression. RAWA shows us that the struggle we are fighting against violence here, is one and the same as the struggle that our sisters are fighting in Afghanistan – they are intimately connected. RAWA reminds us not to look to government for our liberation, but to take it ourselves. And above all RAWA demonstrates that ordinary women, including those who have experienced traumatic violence, can become powerful agents of social and political change.

In solidarity with RAWA, thank you.

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