Women from around the world denounced the social ills affecting them at a women’s court at the World Social Forum yesterday. The World Court of Women sat to hear women talk about how they had been affected by numerous aspects of globalisation, an issue that has dominated this year’s WSF in Bamako. By Joyce Mulama, IPS.
Set up in 1992, the court is a symbolic process that holds public hearings on crimes against women, including the violation of their rights. The court’s theme for this year’s WSF is: Resistance to Wars – Wars of Globalisation, Wars Against Women.”
At yesterday’s sitting, women from Africa spoke fiercely about the challenges of globalisation. “We know that we have paid a hard price for globalisation. It is critical to understand the process and what it has done to poor countries, particularly women and children,” Aminata Traore, a social activist and former Malian minister for tourism said.
“Globalisation is a paradigm whose theme is destruction masked as competition and survival for the fittest. Life values are left to the dictates of the market,” Wahu Kaara, a civil rights activist from Kenya said.
The so-called invisible hand of the market, Kaara said, had ensured that “we have been left with only a small percentage of our wealth, with the bulk of it at the hands of the few. This to me is the obscenity and scandal of neo-liberalism.”
She was speaking in reference to issues such as the unfair rules governing international trade that affect third world countries.
Globalisation was also blamed for the trafficking in women and girls, which in turn has fuelled the spread of HIV/AIDS in many African countries.
According to Mercy Siame of Zambia, poverty has pushed many young girls and women into sex work.
“In Zambia, women and girls have engaged in this service in exchange for money and at the expense of their health. They risk contracting HIV/AIDS; they have lost control of their bodies,” she said.
According to Siame, one in every five Zambians is infected with HIV/AIDS.