International Women's Day has roots in both the labor movement and the peace movement. In the spirit of the Russian women who went on strike for "bread and peace" in 1917, this year's celebration of International Women's Day was also a protest against war _ the "war on terrorism."
The Syracuse Women's Collective organized a weekend full of events. Friday evening saw the opening of the Women and Children First Art Show at the Community Folk Art Gallery. It began with a silent viewing: black dresses hung on a line, separated by strong statements on peace and justice from women from Afghanistan, India, Korea, and the Onondaga Nation; an homage to Lovie Winslow, the only County legislator to vote against the expansion of Carousel Mall; a portrait of a young woman's arrest for chalking a sidewalk with words against war; children's drawings and sculptures.
The silent viewing flowed into food, good spirited company, and poetry and music. The energy was high, the full-house crowd warm and appreciative.
Saturday morning moved to Plymouth Church, where there was a panel and discussion about Women and War, followed by a women's march. Women on the panel initiated the conversation and came from a wonderful mix of backgrounds: an Onondaga woman; a woman who as a child grew up near Tokyo, Japan during WWII; a young, Muslim, African- American woman whose Cambodian relatives lived in Thai refugee camps during wartime; a woman doctoral student and anti-globalization activist who also teaches women's studies. It was a gift of solidarity.
Before lunch, the Syracuse System Shakers, a group of radical cheerleaders, taught pro-woman, anti-war cheers. What fun! Then, connected by scarves, wearing signs, singing and chanting, women and children left Plymouth Church to"snake"around Columbus Circle, the Federal Building, and through Armory Square. It was a gorgeous day, a day meant for marching and leafletting!
This International Women's Day we joined the spirit and actions of women around the world who stand together for justice and survival with dignity and fairness. Give us bread, but give us peace too.