Three Billion Good Reasons to March in 2000



by Sarah Rabin, Special Projects Staff

Women make up over 50 percent of the world's population (that's 3 billion women), and in the year 2000 feminists from all over the globe will prove there is strength in numbers. Millions of women in hundreds of countries will show their solidarity on major issues in the Marche Mondial des Femmes (the World March of Women).

"The women of the world are coming together to stake our claim in the next century," said NOW Membership Vice President Karen Johnson. "NOW is encouraging every woman who recognizes the inequality and the suffering of women around the globe to help make this march a watershed event."

The campaign will begin on International Women's Day, Mar. 8, 2000, and end on the International Day for the Elimination of Poverty on Oct. 19. Throughout this period, activists will promote the demands decided at an international meeting attended by NOW Executive Vice President Kim Gandy last October and those created by each country's feminist leaders.

The universal demands call for the elimination of poverty and violence, two issues which disproportionately affect women. Each country's march organizing committee must agree to the demands set up at the international conference. Those committees can also tailor other demands to meet the needs of their country.

"This is a march against the amoral world of finance that preys mercilessly upon entire populations, leaving them to starve," said Françoise David, the President of the Fédération des Femmes du Québec, the organization that initiated this campaign.

"It is a march against the champions of patriarchy, who deny the human, democratic and social rights of women. It is a march to assert our strength, our solidarity and our resolve to change the world," added David.

So far, over 40 women's groups from around the U.S. have declared their interest in working on this project. Their main issues are disparate, but all have one thing in common-concern for global  women's rights.

The United States' participation in the March will consist of two events:  a national action in Washington, D.C., on Sunday Oct. 15, and an international rally at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Tuesday, Oct. 17. Global delegations will be represented at the D.C. march and also in greater numbers at the U.N. action.

Current plans for the D.C. event would have activists show their numbers by marching past the White House, the State Department, the International Monetary Fund and the Lincoln Memorial.  This action would happen on the same day as similar actions in every other participating country.

The D.C. action is only three weeks before the national election and activists on the organizing committee feel the timing will be important and positive.

"Having a mass march shows solidarity," said Johnson. "It demonstrates that women care about women's issues and asks the question, 'What are you, candidate, going to do about it?'"

NOW has agreed to pursue organizing the U.S. national march. The Fédération des Femmes du Québec will be responsible for the event in New York.

More information on the World March of Women will be available on NOW's web site at www.now.org as it becomes available.


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