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This information is provided for historical background purposes, since POC got its start as PHRF.

Women’s Caucus statement from the Dec 10, 2005 New Orleans Rally

Women’s Caucus statement Protest New Orleans My name is Cherise Harrison-Nelson. As a survivor of Katrina I am an artist, a member of the Interim Steering Committee of the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund, I convene the Arts and Culture working group and have also been active with the Women’s Caucus of the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund and Reconstruction Network and have been asked by the Caucus to give our statement to you today. My home was flooded for four weeks and much is destroyed; the task of cleaning up is overwhelming. There are thousands in my situation left with the enormous job of cleaning up with very little or no resources, and with very little support. In New Orleans, like many other parts of the world, it is mainly women that hold families together, that do the work of making a house a home, despite being undermined by sexism, racism, ageism, discrimination based on disability, one discrimination piled upon another. In the Women’s Caucus, we are women survivors, evacuees and supporters, Black, Indigenous and other Brown people; we are white, older and younger. We are working to make sure that the world knows of the conditions, demands and work of women in the Hurricane relief and reconstruction work and that our work is supported. The Women’s Caucus has stood against the kind of corruption that tends to seep into our movements; the financial and political ambition that has historically divided our movements. We are opposed to anyone using our suffering to personally profit while having no accountability to us. The Women’s Caucus was formed to highlight that the caring work, the reconstruction of human beings, of people, is mostly done by women. We intend to keep our eyes on that prize. When it comes to organizing for the resources to children, to older people, to our communities, from food to medicines to diapers to a clean home, it is most often women who have been doing the practical and creative and life-sustaining yet invisible work. Without this work there can be no real reconstruction. If the survival work not only of women but our entire communities is invisible, then it will be said that reconstruction of New Orleans was done by corporations such as Halliburton, those who are paid handsomely and doing very little, not those of us who are doing the real reconstruction work in our communities at the cost of our health and for no or low pay. We have started organizing to get clean up help, so that women many of whom are older or with children or have a disability are not having to either pay huge sums to get it done, or have to do the backbreaking work on our own. The Women’s Caucus is issuing a local, national and international petition and action alert to get support not only for the demands of the Peoples Hurricane relief Fund but also for demands specific to women: debt relief; clean up that ensures that the environment is safe for children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with disabilities; grants not loans to rebuild; immediate access to welfare, food stamps and other resources; access to international aid; investigation into insurance company rip-off and investigation into why and how the levees broke and who is accountable; cultural preservation and more. As women survivors of Katrina we ask for your support, we ask that you honor the work of the women in your lives. We ask that the survival work that we do, the work of giving and sustaining life, of making a home with few resources be honored and valued. Without our work there will be no reconstruction. We have copies of our action alert petition available here and we ask for your support.

Thank you very much.

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