On 5th January a conference called “Women Resist Globalisation” was organized by the Women’s Initiative within the WSF process. This is an attempt to bring all women’s groups who resist Globalsiation together on one platform and all the main Indian left-stream women’s organisations NFIW, AIDWA and AIPWA along with many independent women’s organisations like Jagori, Sangat, Women’s Coalition for Peace & Development, Akshara, Navdanya, Citizen’s Initiative, Asmita etc. are part of it. The women’s organisations from other parts of Asia which joined and supported this Conference were Dawn (Philippines), Women’s League of Burma, Counselling Centre of Palestine, UBINIG, SANFEC of Bangladesh, MANK of Nepal, Anjuma Mazaram Panjab of Pakistan, Free Trade Zone Worker’s Union and INFORM from Sri Lanka. Convener of this Conference was Srilata Swaminathan, the President of AIPWA, along with Kamla Bhasin of Sangat-Jagori as co-convenor.
This four-hour conference was divided into four topics, each having a moderator, a keynote speaker who spoke on the overall problems of globalisation in that sector, and, finally, two speakers from the grassroots called ‘voices of resistance’ who were involved in the day-to-day fight against globalisation. The first topic was “Women Workers: Producers of Wealth” and the two ‘voices’ were a worker from the sweatshops of the EPZ of Sri Lanka and V. Bharati of AIPWA, an agricultural worker from the tribal belt of Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh who recounted their experiences and struggles. The second topic was “Women: Their basic Needs & Natural Resources” and the voices of resistance were struggles for land by women in Pakistan and the problems of health and reproduction faced by women in Bangladesh. The third topic was “Women and Violence” where the Keynote address was from Palestine and the two voices of resistance were first hand experiences of the suffering of women in Gujarat due to communal fascism and the trafficking of women into prostitution from Nepal. The final session was entitled “Women Struggles for Freedom & Democracy” in which the keynote address was given by a representative from Burma while we heard how women of Iraq and Pakistan are resisting Imperialism in the ‘voices of resistance’.
The Conference started with an Inaugural address by Gigi Francisco of DAWN who stressed the major problems face by women all over the world through this new form of Imperialism and stressed the need for radical democracy and activism from below as the key strategies to combat it. The concluding speech was given by Srilata Swaminathan who stressed the need to measure development and progress not merely by growth of GDP etc but in terms of justice achieved by various sections of the oppressed people and said that another world could only be possible if we stopped practicing exclusions and made as wide a union of all women’s groups and forums to come together to resist globalisation, caste, class, gender discrimination and communal fascism.