Violence against women exists in every society. And in every society, there are women resisting this violence. To give a stronger voice to each of the separate activities, War Resisters' International calls for linking up during the International Days of Action.
The Days of Action centre around 25 November, which has been observed in past years in South America, Asia and Europe. This day has a tradition of linking women's struggles against violence in different countries. In the last few years, for instance, German and Thai women's groups have campaigned against sex tourism, with Thai women calling for changes in the prostitution laws for the benefit of women, and German women criticising German sex-tourists, the men who ride the "Sexbomber" flights to Thailand.
Women from all over the world, from different cultures and circumstances, are naming the ways that violence against women confronts them. In the home. On the streets. Violence supported by the state and by international power structures. Women are naming poverty as violence -- a majority of the world's poor are women, and the 'feminisation of poverty' is only increasing. Women are naming racist laws and immigration policies -- up to 80 per cent of the world's refugees, from war or extreme poverty, are women and children. Women are naming rape in war and rape in marriage; they are naming the suffering of women in war, and the ways in which women, or images of women, are used to create and promote wars. Women from different countries, different races, different sexualities, all our millions of different lives, are finding our voices and naming the violence, and our resistance.
Name It! This is the first step towards getting a clear picture of what is going on and building links between women who work for nonviolent global change.
The participants of the International Women's Conference "Women Overcoming Violence", held in Thailand in November 1992, call for taking up the tradition of common women's actions in different countries: not only the tradition of 25 November but the tradition of the Take Back the Night marches, held in late October in many countries; and the commemoration of December 6, the anniversary of the murder of 14 women in Montreal, Canada, because, their killer said, "you're all a bunch of feminists".
A larger involvement of Asian activists can be expected this year because of the involvement of the People's Plan for the 21st Century (PP21), an Asian network of grassroots activists -- the PP21 forum held in Thailand in 1992 called for action on 25 November.
We want to strengthen links between women by taking action together. We encourage each other and become stronger by showing how many we are and by reaching out to faraway places. As we are active in different locations we need to know about each other's activities. Please get in touch: give information about your plans to the War Resisters' International office in London as soon as possible. This information will be collated and made available so that you can be informed about activities around the world as you take your own action.
If you write a report afterwards and send it to London we will all be able to know the activities that took place. When you give your information, the picture of what women are naming as violence will become ever more rich.
If men want to become active they are welcome to act because of being concerned as men. It should be understood that men will not try to speak for, or name violence on behalf of, women, but will look at their own role as members of (in this instance) the group mostly committing the violence. It should also be kept in mind that women-only activities may already be planned in many countries and regions, and we want to be respectful of this.
WRI Women's Working Group, 55 Dawes St, London SE17 1EL, England (tel +44 71 703 7189; fax 708 2545).
Actions in solidarity with women victims of war are planned for 25 November in London (vigil; women-only); Toronto (vigil and collection of aid for refugees from Bosnia and Burma); Zagreb (free legal clinic); Belgrade (vigil and legal clinic); Germany; Albi, France; and other cities.
Women Against War Crime, 11 Goodwin St, London N4 3HQ
ACT for Disarmament Women's Collective, 736 Bathurst St, Toronto M5S 2R4
Zenska Infoteca, Berislaviceva 14, 41000 Zagreb, Croatia
Zene u Crnom/Women in Black, Dragoslava Popovica 9/10, 11000 Beograd, Serbia, FR Yugoslavia
FoeGA, Scharnhorststr 6, 50733 Koeln, Germany
Femmes en noir, c/o COT, BP 229, 81006 Albi cedex, France