Why Mothers Will Be Marching On Saturday 12 March

On Saturday 12 March 2011, women in a number of countries will mark the Centenary of IWD with a MOTHERS MARCH, to defend Everyone’s survival and welfare, and calling for an End to cuts, poverty and discrimination.

While the government targets women for cuts, piling more unwaged caring work on us, Alan Sugar ditches women who may want to have babies. Being a woman doesn’t fit in with their economy. Are women unfit for purpose – or is their purpose anti-life?

Women from all backgrounds are marching to demand social and financial recognition for mothers who produce and care for the world’s people, and a total change of priorities. Mothers and other carers see the deficit as another excuse to take back benefits and services our labour and taxes have paid for. We are told there is no money for food, housing, health, support, education and the environment. But we can see no shortage of cash to pay for banks, bonuses and weapons of war, while shielding corporations from tax

The Mothers March is endorsed by: All African Women’s Group; Birkbeck Students Union; Black Women’s Rape Action Project; Climate Camp London; Colombia Solidarity; Donne in Lotta (Italy); EMERGENCY (UK); Gruppo Donne No Dal Molin (Italy); International Prostitutes Collective; Legal Action for Women; Lesbian Bi Trans Queer in the Global Women’s Strike; Michelene Wandor (writer); Mom’sy Gwen Omega Radio & Rain Forest Cuisines Ltd; Noel Lynch (Chair, Green Party, London); Oliver James (child psychologist, author); Outrage!; Payday men’s network; Queen Mary Students Union; Sheila Kitzinger (breastfeeding & natural childbirth campaigner & author); Single Mothers’ Self-Defence; WinVisible (women with disabilities); Women Against Rape; Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike.

We are marching to represent the countries we come from and to tell the world what Western governments and corporations did and are still doing to our countries which has brought us to flee. Coming here was not a choice but a desperate measure caused by wars often funded and promoted by Western governments. They sell arms to our governments which are then used to kill us and take whatever we have;all our natural resources. Arms are traded for oil, gold and other precious minerals. British arms sales to Africa have risen to record levels over the last four years and have now reached £1 billion annually. 10% of all Shell’s oil comes from Nigeria yet over 50% of the population live in absolute poverty. UK arms sales to Nigeria are up tenfold since 2000 to £53m, including armoured vehicles and other weapons used to put down people’s protests.

When we arrive here we are not treated fairly. When we claim asylum as survivors of massacres and rape that everyone knows took place, we are not believed, and are called liars, bogus asylum seekers, economic migrants who only come looking for benefits. When we escaped, we have often had to leave our children behind, but when we claim asylum we are not treated as mothers and our children are not allowed to join us. Both children and mothers are traumatized by being separated from each other. We don’t know if our children are alive, eating, going to school. We live in anguish for their wellbeing.

We face racism and discrimination at every turn, sometimes even from other Black people who have been here longer or are in positions of authority, such as doctors, school heads or when we try to get housing or other resources we are entitled to. While waiting for our right to asylum, most of us are destitute. We are prevented from taking any job at the same time that we are denied money to live. We are forced to depend on handouts, sometimes living on the street with our children. We are being pushed into more destitution with all the government cuts. More children, not only ours, will die of malnourishment and disease as mothers struggle to make a decent meal for them. Or they will be taken by social services with the excuse that we are too poor to look after them. Legal aid cuts will take away any legal representation. This will increase illegal deportation, detention, and domestic violence and rape against women dependent on men for survival. We want the government to put a stop to benefit cuts and also to recognise children’s right to food, clothing, housing and their mothers’ care.” (All African Women’s Group)

Many rape survivors took part last year; we hope many will again. We want to make visible the experiences of mothers and other carers who are rape survivors, or whose children are rape survivors, and how fighting for justice and protection is part of the caring work we do for our loved ones. Over 90% of rapists go free, while increasingly rape victims are being jailed for so-called false allegations.

Life-saving resources such as social security benefits, refuges and legal aid, essential to escaping violent relationships, are now being cut. Poverty and job losses are making us and our children more dependent on men and therefore more vulnerable. For those of us who are asylum seekers, the threat of violence is magnified – we are often destitute or in detention, easy targets for rape and racist attacks. Many are separated from our children (more here). Over 70% of women contacting us from detention have suffered rape and other violence.” (Women against rape & Black women against rape)

Where Marches are being held:

London, England, 12 noon: Assemble north of Trafalgar Square and march to the School of African and Oriental Studies for a Speak-out in SOAS room G2 at 2pm.

Guyana: March and gathering in Georgetown.

Haiti: March of earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince.

India: March by Dalit and Adivasi women in Chhattisghar.

Italy: Gruppo Donne No Dal Molin protest outside the new US army base in Vicenza; Women in Struggle Collective, holding a vigil with an open mic at the market in Cremona.

Peru: Conference in Lima by the domestic workers trade union SINTTRAHOL.

USA: Marches in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Venezuela: Gathering in Los Teques main square.

All over the Middle East and North Africa women have found their voice and with men and children are risking their lives to bring change. We need change too, right here in Britain. And we are finding our voices too: students protesting against school fees and the abolition of the EMA, people with disabilities, pensioners, single parents, job seekers and workers whose jobs are under threat are marching, occupying universities and town halls, blocking roads.

As mothers we can help bring together all who stand for life, uniting against war and exploitation. Fathers, sons, brothers, partners . . . will be marching in support.

Why I’ll be marching on 12 March:

My daughter has a life-threatening disability. Mothers like me get no respite. They are even pushing us to go out to work. We are heading for disaster.’

It’s frightening to raise children in a world where they are not valued.’

Asylum seekers were cut first. No recourse to public funds, food vouchers, destitution. That’s what they intend for everyone.’

We run a small health food shop. Times are hard. My oldest child is losing his EMA. I don’t know how we’ll manage.’

We use the library all the time, for revision, books and films for holidays.’

Women are not believed. I was raped, accused of lying and jailed.’

Legal aid enabled me to sue the police for assault and wrongful arrest. Without it only the rich can afford justice.’

Mums of young children are treated as “workless”. When I was on Income Support I could be available to my son.’

After a life of labour, pensioners are told living longer is an economic crisis.’

Grandparents are expected to step in. We’re also expected to retire later.’

After school clubs are closing. Children are “collateral damage” for the cuts.’

They took alternative therapies like homeopathy out of the NHS. Now they want to take the whole NHS. They’ve been at it for years. If we don’t stop them now, we’ll lose it.’

I was tortured and claimed asylum. My children weren’t allowed to join me. I worry about them terribly.’

My partner was violent. I reported him and social services took my children. Why punish us?

We share our house with others to reduce costs. Cuts in housing benefit will make it impossible, especially in London.’

I went into sex work to support my kid and pay for my degree.’

People are told to blame “others” for the cuts. Racist attacks go up, bullying, against immigrants, disabled people, lesbians, gays, trans. It’s scary.’

Child Benefit should be universal. Kids should see they and their mums are valued. Means testing stigmatises; many kids hide they’re on school meals.’

Young people want to find their own way to activities. Without out-of-school clubs, sports, music . . . we are impoverished.’

Flooding, drought. They even tried to take our forests. They don’t respect anything.

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