The Old Women's Project


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Nearly 100 women joined the Old Women's Project to protest Bush's empire-building on the backs of women in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and the United States. These are the speeches given by OWP organizers.

WELCOME

We want to welcome you and thank you for coming. We are The Old Women's Project.

Together — all of you — all of us
  • the women in Iraq
  • the women in Afghanistan
  • the women in Africa
  • the women of the world

are facing — because of George W. Bush — an unprecedented WAR ON WOMEN.

Like a would-be Emperor, Bush arrogantly imposes his personal will and fundamentalist vision at home and abroad. And like most Emperors, George W. Bush thinks he has Divine Authority.

  Divine Authority to invade and occupy Iraq.
Divine Authority to callously sentence women and children to death in Africa.
Divine Authority to use our money to wage pre-emptive war instead of providing
    basic services for women and their children in the United States.
Divine Authority to reverse women's hard-won rights.
 

Women must have the facts about Emperor George's War on Women. He has tried hard to keep it his Dirty Little Secret.

The women of this country have the power to stop him. We're going to vote. We're going to make sure other women vote. And we're going to depose Our Emperor and send him home in disgrace.

Now, we're not going to tell you how to vote on November 2. You are all perfectly capable of making that decision. What we are saying, however, is George W. Bush has to go!

We are stronger than George.
We are most certainly smarter than George.
Now just think about it. I'm sure every single woman here is smarter than  George Bush.
Let me say that again: Every single woman here is smarter than George W. Bush.


IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN

Today — October 9 — is Election Day in Afghanistan. We're hearing lots of bragging from Emperor George and his boys that millions of women in Afghanistan have been registered to vote. What they're not telling us is that 80% of Afghan women can't read or write and are expected to vote the way their husbands or male relatives tell them to. Warlords are posting signs saying that women who vote will be killed. Afghan women were not liberated. They were betrayed. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, aid workers and the women themselves tell us they are slipping farther down the sinkhole of violence, threats and intimidation. Women and girls are still being systematically abused, forced to take chastity tests, subjected to Taliban-like restrictions. Most women, even in Kabul, still wear the burqa — not for their own religious reasons, but to protect themselves against personal attack and public humiliation. The U.S. just replaced one fundamentalist regime with another.

Iraqi women were not liberated. They were betrayed. The women of Iraq face poverty, repressive laws, imprisonment. And now the United States is in charge of it. The military campaign of George W. Bush created an impossible struggle for Iraqi women. Lack of security has generated a country where women are facing increased violence outside — and inside — their homes. They have become virtual prisoners because of it. The number of honor killings is rising dramatically. Occupation Watch and Iraq Body Count estimate that as of September 22, 2004, 12,000-15,000 Iraqi civilians are dead and 40,000 injured. Many of those are women and their children.

Emperor George W. Bush has the blood of women on his hands.

He answers not to the people of the United States, but to an extremist, fundamentalist right wing. He is careening out-of-control on his mission of reckless and immoral empire-building.

And the women of Afghanistan and Iraq have paid dearly for it.

OFF WOMEN'S BACKS IN AFGHANISTAN!
OFF WOMEN'S BACKS IN IRAQ!


AFRICA

There is no place where it is clearer that Emperor George is prepared to sacrifice women's lives in order to ruthlessly enforce his  fundamentalist vision than Africa. We all know that the African people are being devastated by the  pandemic of AIDS. Most people are less aware — I wonder why — that women are almost 60% of all people in sub-Saharan Africa infected with HIV/AIDS. In South Africa, young girls are infected at a rate 6 times that of young boys. In Mozambique, it's 2 to 1. As U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan says, “Today, AIDS has a woman's face.” Let's stop a minute. Why women? Well, we know. What else is new? Women have the lowest social and economic status, are driven by poverty, and so we have less control about when, how and with whom we have sex. We know about that. In the midst of this incredible crisis, Our Emperor has cut off funding that is essential to save African women's lives. Of course I'm talking about suspending all funding to the U.N. Population Fund — his first act in office — and later expanding the Global Gag Rule to all global health assistance. We're talking about women's access to the most basic needs
for HIV/AIDs testing and prevention, and the most basic needs for maternal health and survival.

Let's look at just a couple of examples of what the Emperor has done to women:

In Kenya, maternal and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world. 1 out of 20 women will die during childbirth. In the first 2 years after Bush axed their funding, 3 urban clinics serving 56,000 poor Kenyan women had to close.

In Ghana, almost 700,000 clients lost access not only to family planning, but to HIV/AIDS testing and prevention.

Lesotho which has the highest infection rate in Africa, no longer receives condoms from the
United States.

So what about Our Emperor's Global AIDS bill? The bulk of the HIV funding is going to fundamentalist religious organizations with the most narrow abstinence-only approach, organizations that actually speak out discrediting the value of using condoms.

If this is Right to Life, women have a right to be furious.

OFF WOMEN'S BACKS IN AFRICA!


U.S. WOMEN

As we know, these past four years have been bad for women in the United States. The gender gap is the worst in 12 years. Women's poverty has increased for the third straight year. Under Bush, the number of women without health insurance rose by more than 12 million.

But we hear a little here and a little there. The media hasn't even begun to put together a picture of the total impact on women of this administration. The way that he is rapidly dismantling everything we have struggled for in the past half-century. We've climbed a few rungs on a tall ladder, and now we are being knocked off by the burdens that Bush is heaping on our backs.

Look at the back of your flyer for just a few of the burdens that in four years Bush's empire has piled on women's backs. And this is once-over-lightly. We could do an entire action on any one of these.

We talk about the staggering financial cost of his military adventures. Women, of course, pay that price here at home because it is women who depend most heavily on the social services that are slashed — whether Medicaid/Medicare, health services, childcare and after school programs or domestic violence shelters.

But we know that the loss of these programs is not just a fall-out of his disastrous war. Because we know this Emperor's grand vision is to eliminate government programs. And his grand vision for women is not to promote women's economic independence but to eliminate the basic government services on which we depend, because he wants us to return to our dependency on men. People say he is playing to his right-wing base, when he takes funding that women depend on and uses it to tell them to get married. But Bush is his right-wing base, with his own fundamentalist vision that he is imposing on the women of this country.

That's why he has rolled back our hard-won movement towards equal pay — by destroying data, by opposing enforcement of existing laws, by ending funding to monitor discrimination.

That's why he has nominated federal judges, who will be there forever, who are strongly anti-choice, who oppose affirmative action, and who literally advocate women's natural and proper subordination to men.

And that's why we're here to say:

OFF OUR BACKS AT HOME!


CLOSING

This is a disturbing, frightening and discouraging time. Our country is literally being ruled by a right-wing fundamentalist extremist. There is pre-emptive war, torture, imprisonment, starvation and death in the name of the United States. Women are suffering terribly — and dying — in the name of the United States.

But what if — just allow yourselves, each of you, the comfort of this thought:

What if OUR DESTINY AS WOMEN is to stop it?
What if we are living RIGHT NOW and RIGHT HERE because — together — we are meant to change the world by changing the direction of this country?

All we have to do is DO IT.
We can.
We must.
And we must DO IT NOW. WITH THIS ELECTION.

We must get the self-appointed Emperor George W. Bush off the backs of women who carry the heavy burdens of his empire-building.

 

The Old Women's Project
San Diego, California

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