It's high time that women celebrate their survival in a patriarchal world and reconnect with earlier traditions and cultures that provide important models for defining a peaceful society. The international network of peace organizations "Women for Mutual Security," is organizing in collaboration with Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, an international festival in Crete, Greece, from October 4 to 11, called "The First International Minoan Celebration of Partnership" (FIMCOP).
4,000 years ago on the island of Crete the Minoan culture flourished, characterized by a love of peace, a horror of tyranny and a respect for nature. It gave high value to social welfare. Women were honored, and played an equal role in Minoan society.
FIMCOP is a conference for social activists. It is intended to bring together change-makers, to examine and explain the "how to" of social change for a balanced, healthy and peaceful society-a society we call a partnership. Two hundred and fifty women and men worldwide are expected.
Initially, FIMCOP was the dream of two women, Margarita Papandreou, global coordinator of "WMS" and Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade. It was postponed several times because of lack of money, the Gulf War and its aftermath. But it is finally happening due to the sheer determination of Margarita Papandreou. For the past three years members of Canadian Voice of Women have been involved in the planification.
Participants will choose three workshops from the 10 offered: ancient non-violent civilizations, environment, education, mass media, violence in human relations, spirituality, the economy, international security, the workplace and reweaving the web of life.
Among the co-facilitators will be Amelia Rokatujinuma, Fijian founder of the Nuclear Free Independent Movement, Marilyn Waring, New Zealand author of If Women Counted, Petra Kelly, founder of the Green movement in Germany, and hopefully from Namibia, Albertine Apppolus Amathila, minister of health, and Niki Goulandri, environmentalist and Woman of Europe in 1991. Riane Eisler and Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis will also facilitate.
All participants will attend panels on alternative approaches to the contemporary problems of crime in Los Angeles, Middle East conflict, and the transition in Eastern Europe.
Music, dancing, drama, concerts, art exhibits, poetry readings, films and videos will make FIMCOP truly a celebration. The National Film Board's "Goddess Remembered," "Burning Times" and hopefully "Full Circle" will be screened. Live performers will include the Bulgaria State Radio and TV choir, Greece's Hasidakis, African-American singer Melanie Moore, Olympia Dukakis, presenting Voices of Faith, Lily Tomlin and her "The Search for Intelligent Life" show, and Maria Laskari from Montreal staging Lysistrata, the ancient play about a women's' revolt in patriarchal Greece.
It will be seven intensive days but the Greek siesta has been preserved in the agenda!
Within a year the participants will report back on what they learned and what they applied in their own countries; then a report on the usefulness of the celebration will be given to a wider audience through lectures, a book and video.
This unique event is also intended to furnish a sample format, both in substance and in organizational style, for the U.N. International Women's Conference in China in 1995.
Already requests are being made from Sweden, Canada and the U.S. to make videos of the Celebration.
Finances continue to be a major problem particularly to bring women from Africa, South Asia, and Eastern Europe. In Canada fund-raising is in progress to bring Native people to Crete. Donations are welcome. Please write a cheque made to "Voice of Women WMS" and mail to Voice of Women, 736 Bathurst St., Toronto M5S 2R4.
Registration to the Crete Celebration is at this point closed.
Madeleine Gilchrist is the Canadian coordinator for the Celebration in Crete and a long time activist with the Voice of Women.