The Solidarity Quilt

Women Stitch Visions for a New World

In 2004, The World March of Women, an international network of 6,000 grassroots women's organizations, created a global charter for humanity, an official statement of the group's goals. In 31 affirmations, the charter calls on men, women and oppressed groups across the planet to "transform the world," "radically change social structures" and live together with "equality, peace, freedom, solidarity and justice." It's a compelling vision of an ideal world. But what do these abstract goals look like for everyday women? The answer is the women's solidarity quilt, a colorful patchwork of women's hopes and promises for a better world. View each of the patchworks in the solidarity quilt.
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World March of Women
Listen to recorded statements from the charter calling for an end to poverty and violence against women. Available in English, French and Spanish. View each patchwork from the quilt which reflects an affirmation from the charter.
Joane McDermott, World March of Women
Sixty-four countries and territories around the world contributed patches for the solidarity quilt, depicting the values laid out in the World March of Women's global charter for humanity. View Larger >
World March of Women
In Burundi, women hold the solidarity quilt. View Larger >
World March of Women
The global charter for humanity relay was launched with a demonstration of 30,000 women in the streets of Sao Paolo, Brazil on March 8, 2005. View Larger >

A Relay for Change

Today, the solidarity quilt covers a wall at the World March of Women's South Africa office. The collective creation of hundreds of individual women's hands, the quilt circled the globe before arriving here. Like any world traveler, it has many stories to tell.

In 2005, the World March of Women decided to debut their new global charter for humanity by creating a relay around the world. At each of 64 stops, participants gathered at events to raise awareness about the charter and garner support from elected representatives. And, at each stop, the local women stitched together a quilt patch to represent their country and illustrate one of the values of the charter. As the charter moved around the globe, the solidarity quilt took form, one square at a time.

Women Take Action

The world relay was launched on March 8, 2005, International Women's Day, in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Thirty thousand Brazilian women took to the streets to demand salary increases, agrarian reform and abortion rights. The Brazilian quilters came up with symbols, forms and colors for their country's patchwork after reading and discussing sections of the charter during a workshop. The result is a brilliant collage of hands, feet, flowers and butterflies, capturing what workshop participants described as "the vivid memory of the day we took to the streets."

In Jordan, Palestinian and Jewish women participated in a workshop on violence against women and its relationship to the current occupation. In Japan, women demonstrated in the streets to denounce the militarization of their country. In Portugal, women organized sessions in schools to raise awareness about the charter.

One Woman's Vision

While many patches were a group effort, some were the work of individual artists. Ana Salazar, one of Portugal's most influential fashion designers, designed and sewed her country's quilt patch. "The spirit of my collections and my work has always been that of the free expression of the female body," Salazar said at the unveiling of her design. "At the core of my work there has always been the image of a woman who dares to fight for whatever she desires. This square of the patchwork quilt is a reflection of that."

A Country's Symbol

"Each square has a story to tell and a meaning behind it," says World March of Women's International Secretariat Miriam Nobre. "The pieces illustrate not only the values expressed in the charter but also reflect each country's particular visual art, colours, textures, and materials."

In Cameroon, the square was made on traditional fabric made from beaten tree bark. Rwanda's square is embroidered with a woman draped in traditional clothes in the colors of the national flag. The basket she holds traditionally appears closed, containing women's secrets. But hers is shown open, revealing five values of the global charter inside.

From Hand to Hand

Wherever possible, the World March of Women transferred the quilt and charter across international borders by hand. They organized ceremonies as the quilt passed from Bolivia to Peru, from India to Pakistan and from Lebanon to Tunisia.

The quilt passed from Portugal into the Galician region of Spain not only by hand, but also over water. Portuguese historian Fina d'Armada describes the scene: "Teams of women rowers from two locations escorted the ferry, everyone wearing the same colours, mostly orange, as if to say that women had abolished the border and that there were no longer any distinctions between Portuguese and Galician women."

The Last Stitch

The women of Burkina Faso sewed the last of the 64 quilt patches, tying off the final stitches to the quilt on October 17th, 2005, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. But the solidarity quilt's traveling days are not over. The quilt is still sent to each international convention of the World March of Women as an artistic representation of women's collective vision for a better world.

"The quilt is our global charter for humanity expressed in a different way," says World March of Women's Miriam Nobre. "It is our dreams, the different world we're struggling for, materialized. It shows we see the changes not only in the future but now."

For more information, visit the World March of Women Web site.


United States

What stood out to me first was the reading of the women's rights. It was the fact that the women reading that women should be able to choose who they want to marry and their sexuality are usually unable to do so because of their culture. I only hope that those women believe and follow the words that they're saying. Those women who are saying that female genital mutilation and being forced to have children even though they don't is wrong should be actually having that choice in their lives.
The other thing that stood out to me was the section about equality and that women should not have such a hard time with working and starting a family and even a women without children should have a fair chance at making the same amount of money as a man.
My quilt patch would have stick figures of different ethnicities and sexes holding hands to illustrate the tolerance of everyone, no matter how different you are. It would also have a scale that is balanced with women on one side and men on the other to illustrate what should be happening now.
For my cousins who are female, I hope that they will grow up to see the world change and know that even people that a lot of society hates (such as homosexuals) can still stand strong for what they believe in and eventually get the rest of society to support them and together achieve what they want.

United States

I felt like after listening to this pod cast that most of the ideas presented have a direct impact on my life. I am a woman of color and I am also a lesbian. I feel like I always say that I am a triple threat because I have so many things working against me. One of two of the ideas that stood out for me was when Meizhu Lui spoke about her father telling her that as a woman of color that she would have to work twice as hard. It is so true and its always been that way. I know that it’s a lot harder for me to get a job and to be able to climb the corporate ladder. It is also a fact that at my last job it was segregated between administrative staff that consisted of all women and corporate staff and managers that consisted of all men. It was a-typical that women were paid a lot less and we did all of the work. The men were making 100,000 a year. It felt so unfair. In my boss’ opinion the men needed to make more money so that they could support their families while us women only needed just enough because we should have husbands to support us. It didn’t make sense in my case. I really feel like my experience there was full of injustices. The second idea that stood out to me was the fact that women of color are often not in leadership roles and I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that most people who come from lower income backgrounds think of themselves that way. This was another idea presented within the podcast. Its easy to be a “middle class thinker” when so many things are working against you. I really enjoyed listening to the part about how we live on less an borrow more because no-one was there for me as teen or young adult to steer me in the right direction. I think if I had the education then I would be in a better place financially. I feel like its our duty to educated our little ones. I think we can start within our own families and close friends and make sure our youth are educated and make smart choices with their money and invest in the right places. As a student I had to borrow a lot of money to pay for college because my mother did not have the means to send me college. For her, college was not as important. She comes from an age where going to school is secondary to working hard and paying the bills. She has always lived pay check to pay check. I do not want to live that way. Unfortunately, she did not teach me how to value money because she didn’t value money. Its not her fault. My grandmother was poor and raised in the south. I think its up to me as the third generation to make a difference and huge impact on my families worth and wealth. I think its important for me as a women of color to present different ideas to my circle of friends and to my community. This is why I’m majoring in Psychology and Sociology. I think it’s the best of two worlds and I want to be able to get myself in a place education wise, so that I can be a positive role model for my nieces #1 and of course if I have daughters. I think its important to not speak out and to not be afraid to say something when you know something is not right. Like Meizhu Lui speaking out for 6.00 that she knew she was owed, its important for principal matters to demand respect when respect is not given. I have to admit that I have been in several situations where I knew I should say something. I was too scared to do it, but it does help to hear another woman of colors story and to be able to use that as a tool to encourage myself in future situations. I think the most important thing women should do is educate themselves. I know that since I stared Cal State, East Bay that I have learned a lot about social issues just from the four sociology classes I have taken. It’s important not to be invisible and to fight for injustices whenever they present themselves.

United States

The solidarity quilt is a beautiful and empowering form of getting attention to the issues that are in need of attention. All social issues need special attention in their own way. Each patch was crafted beautifully and so creative. I enjoyed listening to the audio and all of the affirmations I could relate to. I think all of the affirmations relate to my experience of being a woman of color. If I had to choose two of the affirmations that stood out it would be affirmation three, equality; custom, tradition, ideology, economic system or policy justifies infuriation of people. I believe this because as a woman of color and within my multi-cultured family and friendships we have always struggled for equality. I believe that women of color and women in general have struggled for equality in the economic system and displaced as being inferior to the dominant society and to men. The other affirmation that stood out was peace, living freedom of violence, sexually exploited, slavery, being a property of another, forced to marry and traffic. I feel as a woman that we are often exploited and in many cultures women are forced to marry at a young age. I think many culture traditions should not be forced upon an individual. Women are often used and regarded as property by men and exploited in jobs. This is a global issue among all social issues. What hopes I have for myself, as a woman would be the hope to continue my education and to get out of debt. I want to be able to be grounded and well rounded. I want to be at peace with myself and stable. I want to take my career to its highest power. I want to set an example for my children. I want to be an example for my community. There was a time in my life when all I cared about was the party life, my friends and shopping. I want to be known for something bigger then myself. I want be cultured and I want to be educated in every sense of the word. I have hopes for my nieces to grow up strong and independent thinkers. I do not want them to believe that they can’t achieve their goals. When I was young I would always here that you could be anything that you want to be. I did not fully understand that as a child, but as an adult I get it. I want to always encourage them and be supportive. I them to be able to come to me for advice and I can’t wait to see what they achieve in their lifetime. If I were to create my own patch it would be stitched with a white background. I would stitch babies’ footprints in the colors of the rainbow. I would stitch the words, “footprints to our future” I would have an ocean in the background and sand. There would be tiny flowers as a border gathered around. The ocean would represent peace and the sand life. The flowers would be the melody.

Jed Wells
United States

In the article about the solidarity quilt I found it very interesting that these women were able to travel the world and inform others of the importance of different women's rights. In affirmation four the mentioned that women should be able to do what they want with thier bodies and also give birth. This one would greatly effect me in my peronal life because my wife gave me the best gift of all our son. Also within affirmation 4 women that have piercings and tattoos are very beautiful and it is a way of expressing themselves through art. I also feel that it is important for these women to continue to reach the younger generations and help them to understand the importance of them to stand up for their rights and develop a better quality of life. I agree that all women should have the same equal opportunities and should feel safe regarding actions or issues that may happen within their countries. By bringing awareness to the others it will help to better the world. I think that if I was to add a patch to the quilt it would include a mother holding a baby with the sun shinning on thier backs representing that our women are the ones that bring our babies into this world and the reason why the sun continues to shine.

United States

Solidarity Quilt

The World March of Women and the Solidarity Quilt touched my heart! The Freedom Affirmation #1 in which every person has the right to live free from all forms of violence and no one is the property of another is such a fundamental right that I am afraid that not all people are able to realize. Many of the affirmations mentioned peace and the ability for all people, regardless of gender, color, sexual orientation, or any other difference to live together. I am a firm believer in the taking a stance against discrimination and feel that the World March of Women sends a powerful message. If I were able to include a quilt patch I would definitely include a school. Education is so important in my life and has opened my eyes to many ideas about myself and others. It is through my education that I found this website! Small activities such as this have an impact on my life and help me to examine my beliefs.
To my niece: I hope you never feel the sting of discrimination and the deep pain that is associated with it. I pray that you will one day live in a world where peace is real and education is abundant. I hope every second of everyday you are proud to be a woman!

Deleted User

The solidarity quilt is a beautiful inspirational story of women, their struggles, and their dreams of a better future. I loved the attribution of a society free from oppression and violence. Oh that would be grand! I have so much fear inside, I have been victimized by three robberies, ( at gunpoint), and I had some man show himself to me, when I was a young girl, I would love to live free from these fears.
The news is filled with horror stories. I would love to eradicate all the violence!
The other affirmation that stood out for me was the one that said no group should have domination over another. Being arabic, I know how it feels when your family insists they know who you should marry, where you should be at all times, and what is appropriate to say and wear! That is stifling to say the least.
In my own patch I would have a group of women daughters, mothers, wives, friends, all holding hands, dancing in a group . In the middle of them would be bright colorful daisies. There would be stars in the sky, and pine trees in the background.
The women dancing would be a symbol for the freedom women share when they are with each other, and dancing is so feminine and invigorating. The stars symbolize the future, the children we have to raise amongst our collective selves. The trees represent the environment, how as women, we can and should start to take care of our earth and its rescources so our children will inherit something beautiful.
The hopes I have for myself, include keeping myself physically healthy, by dancing walking, eating the right kinds of food, lifting weights. Finishing up my degrees. B.A. and M.A. in Human Development. FInding balance so that I can enjoy my life with my husband, children and my cats. For my female relatives I wish them health, happiness, but most of all hope and resiliency. With the right attitude one can do amazing things. Never give up on your dreams, keep true to yourself, and don't be swayed by the masses . Follow your heart.

United States

I would have to say that this story is really close to me because when they mentioned the part of when in Jordan Palestinian and Jordan woman got together in a workshop to stop violence against woman. First of all I am from Palestine and have always wanted that to happen that all people including males and females stop the violence and lets live all peacefully. Just imagine that if everyone had peace for each other how the world would be no fighting or no wars, saving all those lives we care about. I’m so happy to hear that ladies are getting together to let the people know to stop the violence. If I made a quilt I would have both males and females from different country different backgrounds holding hands and having peace signs behind them. The hopes for my female relatives is that they keep standing up for their rights and always try stopping the violence all over the world. The meaning behind my quilt is that to let the people know that the only way we can all live together with no fighting no wars is to stop the violence. Lets just give it a try and see what happens I guarantee you we will see change.

S. Zahidy
United States

The Solidarity Quilt is to be considered a genuine move which carries a lot of meaning for women in specific and for the world in general. The idea of going around the world and passing the quilt and charter across international borders by hand and connecting all women with all their cultural diversity, ethnic association, geographical separation, political differences, family and work tradition is a noble idea with tremendous impact on women society of the whole world.
In each of their stops in 64 places they brought with themselves fresh ideas from other parts of the world and created joy, hope and awareness for the local women. It has also created opportunity for world community of women to express themselves with a patch which symbolizes their way of viewing the world.
All their declarations/affirmations were meaningful and inspiring to women and human cause and source of solidarity in the world. Among them, demand for ending exploitation and injustice stood up.
The patch which I like to symbolize world body of women will be a 5 women each standing on one continent and stretching their hand and creating a chain. Such patch lets women feel connected and united. At the same time it can symbolize the notion of being connected in spite of geographical distances.
As a woman I would like to see every single woman, no matter from which background they are coming from, and whether they are my relatives, friends or not known to me be able to take advantage of all their God given talents and be an effective figure in their personal, family life and a source of hope for the society.

Princess Malia
United States

I absolutely loved listening to such words of inspiration from so many women from around the world. These are not just women's rights, these need to be all human rights. Several affirmations stood out to me. For example, all shall have equal access to information. This can be taken for granted, I believe, but this affirmation has the ability to impact especially those poorer, lower class people who do not have access to information or education due to financial differences. We as minorities are purposely kept in the dark about rights that we should have, but since they are not always exercised in society, we feel we are not worthy of those rights because we don't see people who we identify with taking advantage of those rights. A good example of this was Meizhu Lui finding out that there was a labor law that protected her. She did not know this, initially, but knowledge is power and action puts that power into change. Another affirmation that stood out to me was accessibility to clean water, and clean air. In a wealthy nation, we take for granted our faucets, until something like Katrina happens and then we see fellow Americans--primarily minorities--who have had that taken away. The powers that be have the responsibility to put policies in place to protect our environment and make sure that the citizens of their nations have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe. When that right is taken advantage of, people become sick with chronic conditions that inevitably have a huge impact on society. More health care services are needed by these people who live in areas that do not have access to clean water or air in the first place, so their work is jeopardized. When the workforce is effected, it creates a ripple effect in the economy at large, when all the governments have to do is invest in basic rights such as these. If I were to have a patch, I would have to make it symbolic of my nature ties to my Hawaiian side. I would make it an homage to Pele with a volcano that is wide at the base and lush and green before the hot lava gets down the mountainside. It would be representative of life-giving and metamorphosis that is inherent in nature that we are all a part of. Green and serene at the base, but explosive and forceful at the top. My hopes for myself and my fellow sisters of the world would be not only to "know" our worth and our rights, but to show and prove to the rest of the world that we EXPECT to be shown that worth and those rights EVERY SINGLE MOMENT. I want our girls to be taught that they have an inherent right to question, to get valid answers, to be treated as human being should and that they should not settle just because others are telling them to.

What stood out the most to me was what the women did to keep this beautiful quilt to grow, “Teams of women rowers from two locations escorted the ferry, everyone wearing the same colors, mostly orange, as if to say that women had abolished the border and that there were no longer any distinctions between Portuguese and Galician women."
Another great thing is how this quilt has moved so many women to strive for a better world for the future of many generations. It is a great way of art, a great way of expression, “The quilt is still sent to each international convention of the World March of Women as an artistic representation of women's collective vision for a better world.”

What I would include in my quilt patch would be a representation of a strong woman, standing on top of the world. The meaning behind that would be that just like a man a woman could be on the top. The hopes I have for myself as a women, is equality. Not to be looked, treated, or talked to in a different manner because I am a woman; the same hopes I would have for my female relatives.

Joy T.
United States

I find it remarkable how the Solidarity Quilt has brought so many women from so many different places around the world together, all striving for the same causes “Equality, Freedom, Solidarity, Justice and Peace.” I found the affirmations regarding equality were most relatable to me. I’m a stickler for equality and am deeply insulted, as a human being, by discrimination. No one deserves to be discriminated against. People are people, no matter what. We should treat each other with the same amount of respect and dignity that we would expect to receive from others. As Affirmation 2 of Equality states, “No human condition or condition of life justifies discrimination. All human beings and people are equal in all domains in all societies.” I also completely agree with Affirmation 5 of Equality that describes how, “All so-called unpaid feminine tasks…” should be recognized as “economic activities” and “should be considered wealth.” I think women who are stay at home moms are underappreciated and underpaid. There should be some sort of system set up where women can earn wages or receive some type of funding while working all day to take care of their family and home.

If I were to create a patch to represent me, I think I would dedicate it to my mother whom I lost to breast cancer. There would be a pink ribbon on it and a picture of my mom. I would also want to put a picture of my sister as she walked among thousands of other woman in support of breast cancer awareness and fundraising. In representation of my country and the hope it offers, I would put a picture of the American flag as well as the Statue of Liberty who forever stands welcoming immigrants to her home.

I plan to one day have children of my own and hope I am able to educate and prepare them for our imperfect world. I hope they are able and willing to contribute to improving upon our society and home, earth.

I realized that the global charter is very much like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that U.N. has set up. Both documents demand certain basic rights, and condemn any individual or group who restrict or deny these rights. One of the important things that I felt was of importance that the charter brought up was under the peace category, affirmation 3, which states that all forms of domination, exploitation and exclusion are excluded. But if one thinks about it, our economic system is based on exploitation, that is, companies in rich and developed countries exploit workers in very poor countries for work and sell the products of their labor for high profits.

I assume that there are too many people that have benefited so much from this economic system to let this economic system to be changed. And right after I thought about this, the next affirmation (affirmation 4), went on to explain that all human beings have the right to live in a world free of war, free of foreign occupation, and military bases and that no one has the right to decide on the life and death of individuals. This is something that would be agreeable, but likely impossible to reach. Do we really think that war can be ended? And what about those soldiers in war? Do they have the right to decide the death of individuals? Is war separate from this charter?

There are numerous countries that the United States has military bases on and the same is true for other countries. It troubles me, because a lot of what the charter says is something to strive for, but really unreachable. I don’t think affirmation 4 under the peace category is well written or well thought out, and it seems to me that it was written without much thought put into it. Some of the charter, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, seems to have been written with the intent of righting all the wrongs that the world has, but cannot be realistically reached and fixed. I would say that I am all for setting up goals, but there is a point of just blowing smoke up one’s rear end.

Moving on, I would say that I would make a my quilt patch with a graphic of a large amount of people in a dark cave all stuffed in there, with a small line of people leading outside the cave in the surface world with a sunlight and the ‘real world’. I guess it goes along with the Allegory of the Cave that Plato wrote, where everyone believes that life is inside that cave whereas they are living in their own delusion.

And this ties in with what I would like for my female relatives, as I want them to go through their lives and actually find what life is for them. I don’t believe that life is having that sports car, nice home, and lovely family at home, but rather a life filled with struggle and challenge. I would like my female relatives to face struggles and challenges, making them think and question themselves, investigate who they are and why things are the way they are, and leave their lives with a sense of acceptance.

Angela Robertson
United States

Listening to the 5 categories(freedom, solidarity, justice, equality and peace)that define the charter for humanity and the 31 affirmations that spelled out the specific rights women must be guaranteed was quite moving. I called my 8 year old daughter into the room and had her listen also. I think that a lot of women and girls have let society dictate what their "appropiate" role should be and therefore, they do not understand what it means to value being a woman.

We have come to expect and accept how we are being objectified and portrayed. Affirmations like the right to live free of violence, and not be considered property of others, or just the right to dignity and freedom of thought, expression, and opinion seemed "matter of fact" to my daughter. She didn't connect that there are women right now today suffering at the hands of male dominated societies in which they are literally in forms of modern day slavery. We even discussed that although America has many freedoms other women of the world do not have, there is still a great deal of work to be done here.

My hopes for the future women (my daughter included) is that MTV, reality shows, and the latest fashion does not distract them to the point there are no girls to carry on the struggle. They need to embrace the power of being woman and not be little themselves nor allow others to. My quilt patch would show one woman on 7 different bodies of land with her arms strethched out connecting to the next woman. The 31 affirmations would cover every inch of open space. There would also be men on each continent holding the scales of balance.
Angela Robertson

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