On March 8th I attended International Women’s Day in Copenhagen, Denmark.
I attended an event sponsored by a progressive political party. It was interesting to me that the leader of the party was young. I found out that most of the leading women in politics in Denmark are under 40 with few exceptions. I attended a workshop led by a relatively young German female political leader on women’s rights around abortion (abortion rights are under attack in large parts of Southern and Middle Europe) led by Catholic and fundamentalist Protestant politicians. Other issues discussed were the sexualization of women’s bodies and violence against women.
There was a big march: “Feminist 8th of March” with speeches about parental leave for both parents, equal pay and women’s struggles in a welfare county. In addition, there were critiques of right wing politicians and neoliberal economic policies linked to sexism.
I led a workshop during the following weekend on the elimination of sexism using tools for women from Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland. There were a number of women of color and also younger women that were part of each delegation. We spent a lot of time having women listen to each other about each woman’s life and the sexism and racism that were often faced. Also discussed were the key issues around sexism that effect all women including sexual violence and physical violence against women, females and power, leadership, economic inequalities, environmental injustices, the effects of other oppression such as racism, class, disability, sexual and gender identities, homophobia, ethnicity, nationality. Also a whole range of topics such as religion and sexism, women’s work, sexism and the media, etc. were discussed and the emotional effects were explored.
The workshop was sponsored by No Limits for Women of a co-counseling network. No Limits for Women offers a system of ongoing mutual support and resource. It is available to all women, whatever their economic, social, and cultural circumstances. The support and resource make it possible for women (and men) to sustain our efforts to eliminate sexism. Women participants have access to effective tools that they can use on a one-to-one basis.
~ Dr. Diane Balser