A new wave of feminism hit Canada’s west coast on May 1. On that day that the Women’s Global Charter for Humanity arrived in Vancouver on its way around the globe. The Charter is the product of consensus from thousands of women’s groups in hundreds of countries and calls on “women and men and all oppressed peoples and groups on the planet to proclaim, individually and collectively their power to transform the world and radically change social structures with a view to developing relationships based on equality, peace, freedom, solidarity and justice.”

It is an extraordinary document and an extraordinary moment in human history. The women of the world are uniting around a call for action. It should be front page news, especially in Canada. The Quebec Women’s Federation initiated the process to form a world wide women’s movement around the World March of Women in 2000. The Women’s Global Charter for Humanity is the next step — “Another way of marching” — as the organization’s web site explains.

A couple of years ago, I was in Brazil for the World Social Forum and joined the women’s contingent of an anti-war march. The women in Southern Brazil, the other end of the continent from Canada, marched under the banner of the World March of Women. It was thrilling.

The emergence of a global women’s movement has been a long time coming. Women have worked in solidarity across national barriers for many years but the World March of Women has taken that much much further. Through a series of international meetings women from across the planet have discussed common issues and formulated demands. For the 2000 march they came up with 17 demands focused on eliminating poverty and violence against women and children.

This time, they have come up with a charter for change for all of humanity. It is a stirring document that deserves careful reading. Difficult questions like sexual orientation have been handled with pluralism. The section on freedom includes freedom “to express one’s sexuality in a free and responsible manner and choose the person with whom to share one’s life.”

Under equality the document makes clear, “No custom, tradition, religion, ideology, economic system or policy justifies the inferiorization of any person.”

And most importantly, the Charter is not a charter for women’s equality but rather a charter for humanity. It has become clearer than ever before that for women to achieve equality and justice, the world has to change. A few reforms for legal or economic equality will not change the reality of a world built on the exploitation of women and other marginalized groups.

The unity of women from the Global North and South around this Charter is a tremendously exciting development. It would be great if all of our newspapers printed the Charter for people to read. It would be wonderful if the television news followed its progress across the country and even around the Globe.

It is news. After all when is the last time hundreds of grassroots organizations from the United States to India, from Brazil to Burkino Faso, from Canada to Pakistan have united around such a fundamental charter for change?

But I fear that few in the media will follow the passage of this extraordinary event. Women’s groups have been ignored by media in English Canada for years now. Most feminist issues have fallen off the agenda. Here we have a massive global movement for change initiated in Quebec and still the media ignores it.

Maybe 2005 will turn out to be one of those turning points in history. While the men who rule the world bring us closer and closer to catastrophe, the women are uniting to present an alternative. What better way to promote a new feminism than by taking up this inspiring charter.

Judy Rebick

Judy Rebick

Judy Rebick is one of Canada’s best-known feminists. She was the founding publisher of rabble.ca , wrote our advice column auntie.com and was co-host of one of our first podcasts called Reel Women....