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Saturday, June 19, 2004


Call For a Women's Day at the European Social Forum 2004, London

Appel pour une Journée des femmes au Forum Social Européen 2004, Londres
Appello per una Giornata della Donna all’ESF 2004, Londra
Llamamiento para un Día de la Mujer en el Foro Social Europeo 2004, Londres
Aufruf zu einem Frauentag beim Europäischen Sozialforum (ESF) 2004 in London (no working link as I type)

Dear Sisters and Brothers

As you may know the next European Social Forum (ESF) is being planned for London this October 14-17. Previous ESFs in Florence (2002) and Paris (2003) brought together 60,000 movement, community, trade union activists and other people from across Europe and the world, and were an opportunity for those of us in grassroots, independent networks to get together, in some cases meeting for the first time. At the Paris ESF, a Women’s Day took place the day before the main Forum started, and we are pressing for a similar event at this year’s ESF.

We have been attending planning meetings, and have also been pressing for free and low-cost entry for people with no- or low-incomes – particularly sans-papiers (people without papers) and asylum seekers; free transport and full access for people with disabilitities; no affiliation fees for groups which cannot afford it and in general visibility for people who are most discriminated against including people of colour, people with disabilities, single mothers and more.

As a part of this we have been circulating this proposal for a Women’s Day at the Forum since January, and we are now asking if you and/or your organization would endorse it, joining the growing pressure to ensure that there is a Women’s Day in London, with the widest possible participation. MIXED ORGANISATIONS AND INDIVIDUAL MEN ARE WELCOME TO SIGN.

We also welcome any information/ideas/suggestions you have. We have been meeting with women and men at our Women’s Centre and would like to hear from you, whether or not you have been involved in the European Social Forum. Please feel free to circulate this proposal in your networks and/or at meetings and events you attend.

For more info on the efforts to make the ESF accessible and accountable:, and

Global Women’s Strike:

We look forward to hearing from you

Power to the sisters to stop the world and change it!

Sara Callaway and Anna T, Global Women’s Strike

Call For a Women's Day at the European Social Forum 2004, London

We were asked by the Programming group in London to prepare a written proposal for a Women’s Day, for the UK Assembly and European Assembly. Our proposal continues what was established at the ESF meeting in Paris Nov 03 where a Women’s Day was held the day before the full Forum started. Over 3,000 women and about 800 men attended (men were not speakers). Many more women came to the main forum as a result and grassroots women were seen and heard. Sans Papieres (women without documents), and other women of colour had an impact at the final plenary because they got together at the Women’s Day.

Why we need a Women's Day

  • Without a women’s day, sexism, and for those of us who are women of colour, racism, will prevent the visibility of women, our needs, demands and concerns. Women of almost every sector in society work harder for less -- doing 2/3 of the world’s work for 5% of the income and 1% of the assets. From breastfeeding, raising children, to caring for people who are sick, older, have disabilities -- our work, mostly without any wages, sustains life and communities. Our waged jobs are most likely to be the lowest paid with the worst conditions. We face rape and violence because our lives are not seen to count. We often spearhead movements for change (all polls show women are even more against war than men) but our daily struggle for the survival of our communities and for social justice are often invisible.

  • At many forums and major events, even when the spokespeople are women, women’s experience doesn’t come out. Far from reducing women’s participation, as some have claimed, a women’s forum would make it possible for grassroots non-party political women from different backgrounds and experiences to have a voice. Whether it is single mothers or low paid women refusing to be sidelined; women asylum seekers fighting for the right to work and against destitution; Black and immigrant women fighting racist attacks, older women fighting derisory pensions; women with disabilities defending home care; women and girls demanding justice against rape and other violence; sex workers fighting criminalisation; lesbian and straight, from rural and urban areas, and every part of the movement – all would have space at the Women’s Day, making our achievements more widely known and strengthening the vital connections among us, women and men. Some key issues include pay equity for women and men in the global market; women’s anti-war organising; defending Haiti, and the Venezuela revolution which includes recognition of women’s unwaged work as economic activity producing social welfare and wealth, and entitling women to social security. These are among some of the many isssus we expect would be highlighted at the event.

We are in touch daily with women and men organising in both mixed and women's organizations, in Scotland, North & South of England, Wales, across Europe and internationally who support this demand.

On widening participation, Droits Devants, a grassroots organization of asylum seekers and others in Paris, succeeded in getting safe passage for Sans Papiers stopped at borders on their way to the Paris ESF. It is urgent to find out from Droit Devants how they achieved this, so the same rights can be secured for Sans Papiers/es to attend the ESF in London. Also can we organize video links to enable activists who can’t travel to participate in the Forum.


Sara Callaway and Anna T (England)
Maggie Ronayne (Ireland)
Sara Williams (Spain) Global Women's Strike
Ruth Luschnat, Frauenforum Berlin (Germany).

Email us at to endorse the call for a Women's Day at the ESF in London