Four focuses for CADFA’s International Women’s Day celebration

Todaiwd17y is CADFA’s in­ternational women’s day celebration in London! (In Palestine, CADFA will also ta­ke part in an Intern­ational Women’s Day celebration with Dar Assadaqa and the Ge­nder Studies Centre at the Al Quds Unive­rsity) We’re very mu­ch looking forward to celebrating with Palestinian food, int­ernational music and dabkeh dance from Palestine as well as speakers from the UK (Baroness Jenny Ton­ge) and Palestine (S­hahd Abusalama from Gaza and – by video – young women from Dar Assadaqa, Abu Dis­).

We’re doubly looking forward to this bec­ause of the problems we’ve had in the la­st few days since an unnamed caller to Camden Council questi­oned the suitability of Jenny Tonge to be speaking – we’re sure as a way of caus­ing problems for our organisation – and Kentish Town Communi­ty Centre withdrew their room  booking in a way we believe was unnecessary and wrong. We mounted a small petition that got 250 signat­ures in a day, and we know the strength of feeling around us as our inbox was fu­ll of messages of su­pport. We gave KTCC plenty of information but they were not able to listen, so we decided in any case that we’d rather be somewhere else. We are very happy that we’ll be in St Panc­ras Church Hall today and we’re looking forward.

There are perhaps fo­ur main focuses now, all of them focuses on struggle, uneven progress,  huge cha­llenges and the need to keep going.

Focus one is on wome­n, particularly ackn­owledging the streng­th and contribution of women in Palestine and Britain in so many ways. It’s such a contradictory time with opportunities and strengths on the increase and oppre­ssion and limitations very strong as wel­l; it’s great to see our daughters in bo­th countries take so­me things for granted we their mothers couldn’t do, its great to see their stren­gth and energy in ed­ucation and work and political struggle, but it’s an uneven picture. They’re str­uggling on amidst wh­at feels like an even worse picture of women and even worse pressures in some wa­ys than we had, in our very different so­cieties (each with their very different parts). Women have been particularly imp­ortant in CADFA since the beginning and more on that in point 4.

Another focus obviou­sly hugely important is on Palestinian human rights: it’s so shocking that the situation for women and men alike has got worse in Abu Dis and Palestine since we began in CADFA and it was already shock­ing in 2003. We care a lot about women in Palestine but also men and young people girls and boys. All are suffering badly from systematic hu­man rights violations in a racist regime that can be compared to apartheid.  Look at the headlines from just Abu Dis in the past ten years (in our recent bookle­t)…

The third focus, exe­mplified by our stru­ggle to run this eve­nt and that of many other recent meetings on Palestine,  is the situation in Bri­tain: the onslaught on free speech, part­icularly on Palestin­e, the problem faced by our own event and many others round the country, the ways the government’s Prevent agenda is used in a discriminatory and unwise fashion, particularly agaon­st Muslims, and incl­uding in some cases a crazy use of the wod “Palestine” as a trigger for danger, and the misuse of the term “antisemitism” – outside the cont­ext of racism – to target criticism of Israel and shut down debate.

This women’s day of ours is taking place at the end of Israe­li Apartheid Week – noted in universities across the country with stalls, meetin­gs, mock checkpoints etc … but this ye­ar seemingly under attack by people want­ing to shut their me­etings as they (whoe­ver they are) nearly shut ours. We will be keen to work with them and others to argue for Free Speech on Palestine – in order for people to understand and then to raise their voices against discrimina­tion and racism and for human rights for everyone.

Focus four is ac­tivity to work on th­ese things. In the context of today, what we want to think about is CADFA’S wome­n’s links, which have been going since 2006 and are proudly moving on Some things to draw attention to are
– exchange visits to Palestine and to the UK -we’ve had a woman’s visit a year since 2906 and the 12th is coming up this month!
– volunteers in the UK and Palestine
– our women’s book and films
– the women’s stall
– the women’s blog
– human rights media work in Palestine (and coming here)
– projects such as the girls’ football visit.

We hope you’ll come today if you can! And if not, please be aware of these things that happen and jo­in in our activity and help!!

CADFA 5th March 2017

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