Asking women to boycott tomorrow's referendum

14 October 2005
Greetings to the Women Making a Difference blog. My time has been taken up sending out a message from the Organisation of Women’s Freedom to the women of Iraq and to freedom-lovers throughout Iraq about tomorrow’s referendum.
We are calling on them to boycott a referendum which deceives the Iraqi people, since it asks them in the name of democracy to endorse a constitution which forces our society into misogyny and civil war. It is our conviction that on 15-10-05 the Iraqi people will embark on a new chapter in the enforcement of American-style “Democracy” - one which aims at manipulating the masses to vote “Yes” for a highly dangerous constitution that undermines both the integrity of Iraqi society and women’s civil rights.
As the military campaign continues of mass-killings in Iraqi cities, terrorizing families and children, and rendering them homeless and helpless, the political forces which have thrived under the occupation set out to deceive the people in their publicity campaigns plastered across amply remunerated media screens, promising them peace and an end to terrorism if they all vote “Yes” for the constitution. The clergy simultaneously support the scenario by encouraging the “yes” vote in their well-timed public announcements.
How is a religious constitution democratic if it denies women the civil and social rights given to men? If it deprives women from equality in matters of marriage and divorce ? If it makes the permission of a man a precondition for women to work or receive education? How is it democratic if it legalizes the marriage of female children? This is a constitution which does not recognize the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women because it contradicts a doctrine written fifteen hundred years ago. Do they seriously imagine they can solicit the votes of the female majority in favour of laws which will ensure women’s own enslavement and degradation?
By tearing Iraqi society apart into nationalist, ethnic, religious and sectarian parts, they are pushing us into a bottomless pit. Furthermore, they are determined to designate ethnic IDs to areas, work places, institutions, legislative and executive assemblies, including the army, in order to reward the armed militias of the war lords of the civil war that has already broken out by conferring a legal status upon them.
We must say no to this farce of Democracy at gun point! Women in Iraq have no hopes of freedom and equality as long as the occupation remains in place, forcing a religious and nationalist government upon us. A struggle is needed to realize the bright and free life which we deserve. We will advance our struggle towards full equality among women and men in a civilized, secular and egalitarian society.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

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