The Guardian March 15, 2000


World March of Women:
Indigenous women organise

The World March of Women was launched at International Women's Day 
celebrations around Australia. The various activities associated with the 
March, from now until October 17, will culminate with a World Rally in New 
York when millions of signed support cards will be presented to UN 
Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

In Sydney, indigenous women are looking at how to tie in practical 
activities at the local level with the World March of Women that will make 
a difference for indigenous women and their communities.

At a Women's Electoral Lobby breakfast in Sydney last Saturday, a group of 
women, mostly Aboriginal, discussed what they could do for the World March 
of Women.

They came up with the idea of setting one day aside for women and children 
during the National Aboriginal Week. They plan to approach the National 
Aboriginal and Islander Day Organising Committee with the idea.

They also discussed the possibility of their own march from Tranby 
Aboriginal College in Glebe down to the Aboriginal Dance College at the 
Rocks on Sydney's foreshore.

"I think these are things that we could do ... something local", Pam Greer 
told The Guardian. Pam was a speaker at the breakfast and is a 
member of the committee co-ordinating World March activities in Australia.

"Women could do something for their community which would remain there 
after the seven months is completed", she said.

"For example, cleaning up the local river, rather than a full blown women's 
festival of dance and song on a specific day.

"We like the idea of women getting together and hearing of other indigenous 
women in other countries doing similar things  it is all encouraging to 
us to know this and to be part of it."

As part of the International Women's Day celebrations there was a cultural 
diversity luncheon at the South Sydney Leagues Club in Redfern.

The luncheon was organised by the local Domestic Violence Committee who 
workshopped a number of issues around poverty and violence. 

The Indigenous women present discussed with representatives of the Breast 
Screening Program ways in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women 
could become involved in the program.

As a result in a few months time there will be a social function tied in 
with the World March of Women where a number local of Indigenous women can 
be introduced to the Breast Screening Program.

The life expectancy of Aboriginal women is 62 years of age compared with 81 
years of age for the non-Indigenous female population.

Pam sees the bridging of non-Aboriginal health services, such as pap smears 
and breast Xrays, with the Aboriginal community as personal and practical 
activities which are part of reconciliation.

In Sydney last Friday, indigenous women and children gathered in Alexandria 
Park in Sydney's inner southern suburbs. There were a number of information 
stalls, guest speakers and acknowledgment of Aboriginal older women who had 
passed on this year.

The World March of Women postcards which are to be sent to the UN 
Secretary-General are being widely distributed through organisations 
providing services to indigenous communities.

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