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