Monday, October 20, 2008

Women Lead the Way on Nonviolence in Iraq - La' Onf

This is from September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. It's very encouraging news.

Additionally, Micheal Nagler has given an interview regarding some NV strategies and suggestions that might be useful in this difficult and complicated scenario for NV. Urgent Invitation for Arabic speakers to support Nonviolent Activists In Iraq! If you happen to be bilingual in English/Arabic maybe you can help traslate this short video, thanks.
Before the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, women played manyimportant roles in Iraqi society. Despite the horrors of Saddam'srule, women's rights were guaranteed by a secular constitution. Largenumbers of women were well educated and worked outside the home, in business, medicine, education, and important government positions.Today, lack of security and growing repression have forced many womento stay at home. Violence against women has increased dramatically.
One theme of La'Onf's third annual Week of Nonviolence has been toaffirm the importance of freedom for women both within the nonviolencemovement, and in Iraqi society at large. La'Onf has consciouslystructured itself to be like the society its members hope Iraq willbecome. La'Onf is multi-religious, multi-ethnic, with space forsecular members as well. The organization's fundamental commitment toimproving the status of and opportunities for women is part of La'Onf's own leadership structure.
At the local level at least 30 percent of La'Onf's elected provincialgoverning boards must be women. Members of La'Onf's NationalCoordinating Committee serve for two years and are responsible forLa'Onf's strategic planning. The body requires that at least one ofthe two representatives from each region be a woman and at least 30percent of its Executive Directory Board be women.
During the 2008 Week of Nonviolence, La'Onf has called upon thepolitical parties and candidates to present their programs to theIraqi citizens, including information about their "position on basic principles of human rights, especially the issues ofnon-discrimination against women and respect for freedom ofexpression."
Several activities during the Week of Nonviolence have focused on theparticipation of women and women's issues. On Wednesday (October 15),La'Onf member organizations in Najaf spent the day at the college ofEducation for Girls, facilitating discussions about nonviolence aswell as key issues in the upcoming elections. Over 250 studentsparticipated. In Babylon on Tuesday (October 14), the Organization ofGirls in Iraq ran the festival for children and youth. And in Dhuhokon Monday (October 13), La'Onf's representative body visited theheadquarters of the Kurdistan Women's Union to denounce violenceagainst women. Today they will be visiting shelters and clinics forwomen and children that face domestic and social violence. And last Sunday (October 12), the La'Onf group in Al-Anbar conducted a workshopfor women focused on increasing their participation in the upcomingelections. The workshop participants are now seeking to increase theproportion of women elected onto provincial councils. They assert that women's representation is important because of their role in buildingthe society and raising their children.
In Baghdad, Najaf, and Diwaniyah, the La'Onf coordinators are womenwho have all been active in the nonviolence organization from itsearliest days. Zainab was very impressed that a significant number ofwomen attended La'Onf's meeting in Sadr City, Baghdad; several of them expressed concern that they would not be able to vote because of thesecurity risk, especially for women. Salama has organized many pubicevents to promote discussion of the elections in Diwaniyah, where sheis the coordinator. She is also co-chair of La'Onf nationally.Thawwar, who is a high school teacher in Najaf, asks searchingquestions about the connections between how a society raises itschildren and the kinds of violence that exist in that society. She haschallenged the use of corporal punishment in the classroom.

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