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International Women’s Day Brings Cries for Peace, Reproductive Health

Events celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8 included rallies and marches for peace and a call for reproductive health funding. Thousands of women and men gathered in Washington, DC, for a peace rally and march to the White House, protesting President Bush’s drive toward war against Iraq. The rally and march were organized by Code Pink and a coalition of women’s groups, including the National Organization for Women (NOW), Global Exchange, and United for Peace and Justice. Speakers at the rally included feminist writers Alice Walker and Maxine Hong Kingston, singer Michelle Shocked, and NOW President Kim Gandy. Similar rallies were held across the country in 50 other cities, according to the Washington Post.

“The best substitute for war is intelligence, and we have it … and we have good hearts. We have to believe we have good hearts, that we don’t have to murder to change minds,” said Walker, according to the Post. Walker, Kingston, Benjamin, and at least 22 other protesters were arrested outside of the White House, according to the New York Times. Code Pink organizers had obtained permits to march in groups of 25 in front of the White House on the pedestrian mall, according to the Post, but upon arriving, police denied entry. Protesters were later allowed to enter the area but were then asked to leave, and protesters who refused were arrested, the Post reports. Meanwhile, Britain’s minister for international development, Claire Short, threatened to resign if her government followed the United States into a war against Iraq, saying, “If there is not UN authority for military action … I will not uphold a breach of international law or this undermining of the UN and I will resign from government,” according to the Melbourne Herald Sun.

At a press conference on Thursday organized by Population Action International, US Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) released a report detailing “Bush’s Attacks Against Women Around the World.” Maloney was joined by US Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and doctors and healthcare providers from Kenya, Zambia and Afghanistan, who talked about how Bush’s global gag rule and cutbacks in international family planning funds have hurt women and children in their countries. “When it comes to issues affecting women, President Bush has not allowed us to debate the issues in Congress. Instead, he is rolling back women’s rights through regulations, policy changes and executive orders. Up to this point, it has been under the radar screen – but today, we bring it out into the open,” Maloney said.

LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.

Media Resources: Melbourne Herald Sun 3/10/03; Washington Post 3/9/03; New York Times 3/9/03; Rep. Carolyn Maloney Press Release 3/6/03

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