Motherhood conference will attack militarism


TORONTO, October 17, 2008 -- Militarism around the world and violence at home will be the focus of the 12th annual conference on mothering being hosted at York University from Oct. 23 to 26 by the Association for Research on Mothering (ARM).


Researchers, activists and mothers from more than 20 countries will discuss topics ranging from the anti-war activism of the Raging Grannies to the war on women’s bodies in the Congo. During a special series of meetings embedded in the conference – entitled ‘You Say You Want a Revolution: The Motherhood Movement of the 21st Century’ – activists, community organizers and academics will plan the next steps in the grassroots mothers’ movement that is dedicated to making the world more equitable for mothers and their children.


“Family and state violence have enormous impact on mothers and their children and mothers are at the centre of peace and social justice movements around the world,” said Andrea O’Reilly, professor of women’s studies at York and founder of ARM. “This is a particularly appropriate time to have the first-ever international ‘Conference on Mothers, Violence, Militarism, War and Social Justice’ because Canada continues to be engaged in armed conflict in Afghanistan and this year is the sixth anniversary of the war in Iraq. On the domestic front, there were 500 Canadian women murdered by their partners between 2000 and 2007, and 8,000 in the U.S.”


More than 100 participants from across Canada and from countries such as South Africa, Palestine, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, India, Israel, Finland, Mexico and Malaysia will discuss their research and experiences related to motherhood and violence during the conference.


WHAT: Conference on Mothering, Violence, Militarism, War and Social Justice

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 23 to Sunday Oct. 26

WHERE: McLaughlin College, York University, Keele campus

INFORMATION: ARM Conference website.


Highlights of the conference:


Mothers and Activism session – research on the anti-war activism of the Raging Grannies (Thurs. Oct. 23, 1:30 p.m.)


Violence Against Women panel – including Kim Stymest of the University of Toronto on the war on women’s bodies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Margie Serrato of Texas A & M University, with a cross-cultural look at the uses of sexual violence (Thurs. Oct. 23, 3:45 p.m.).


Keynote Panel on Violence, Militarism and Social Justice - Sara Ruddick, author of Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace, about politics that rejects collective violence. Flavia Cherry, national chairwoman of the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action, on how political conflict and economic difficulty and the presence of peacekeeping forces in Haiti fuel discrimination and violence against women. Tiisetso Russell, of the University of Toronto, about the experiences, practices and perceptions of black foreign-trained women lawyers navigating the Canadian credentialing process (Thurs., Oct. 23, 7 to 9 p.m.).


Mothering and Peace panelincluding “The Maternal is Political: On Raising Small Boys in a Time of War”, a presentation by writer Shari MacDonald Strong. When the U.S. declared its War on Terror, Strong had two young sons and a daughter, and quickly became a politically astute mother (Fri. Oct. 24, 2:30 p.m.).


Motherhood movement and the empowerment of mothers – including Melody Drnach, vice president for action of the National Organization for Women (NOW), speaking about work/family balance and the need for policy initiatives to improve the economic security of all parents and families, ARM founder Andrea O’Reilly on the emergence of motherhood studies as a discipline, and Linda Lisi Juergens of Mothers Out to Have Equal Rights (MOTHERS) on the next steps in a mothers movement (Fri. Oct. 24, 8 to 10 p.m.).


The Global Motherhood Movement panel – including Gertrude Fester, University of the Western Cape, presenting “Constructions, Contradictions, Constraints and Challenges of Motherhood within the African/South African Context” (Sat. Oct. 25, 9 a.m.)


The Motherhood Movement and Children panel – including Audette Sheppard, of Toronto, founding member of United Mothers Opposing Violence Everywhere (UMOVE) (Sat. Oct. 25, 2:15 p.m.)


York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as more than 200,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 11 faculties and 26 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.



Media contact:

Janice Walls, Media Relations, York University, 416 736 2100 x 22101 /