Fashion show honors women defenders

by Kobakila News

LOS ANGELES (March 15) — In an unusual fashion event that was more of presenting women’s rights and their role in society rather than the latest trendy dresses and shoes worn by high-priced models, the Gabriela Network of Los Angeles of the Mariposa Alliance hosted on March 14 its 6th annual political fashion show, “A Mile in Her Shoes: Honoring Women Defenders.”

The historic show, held at Eagle Rock Plaza Mall in Eagle Rock — considered a hub of Filipino American population in Los Angeles — attracted over 300 people from women, youth and labor organizations, non-profits, high schools, college campuses, and familes from Los Angeles to San Diego. They came to support the show as it highlighted the lives of women who fought and continue to fight for women’s and human rights.  The event called all women to organize in the face of global economic crisis and intensive repression.

The fashion show depicted the lives of women defenders around the world in keeping with this year’s theme, “A Mile in Her Shoes.”  Sixteen artists and organizations including Khmer Girls in Action, ANSWER-LA, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Asian Pacific Labor Alliance, Kabataan maka-Bayan, and others showed their solidarity with GABNet with very loud political statements.

“We wanted to do something creative but also show that it’s not easy to live a life of justice, defending the oppressed, and fighting for genuine liberation. We thought- what better way to do that than to have this year’s focus be on the shoes that women defenders have to fill?”, said Amanda Martin, GABNet LA Coordinator.

Women, organizations, and issues were emphasized in the show.  Especially inspiring were the tributes created to the iconic women defenders of history like political prisoner Marilyn Buck, the martyred Mirabal Sisters of the Dominican Republic, and artist Frida Kahlo.

A high school student, attending the show said, “The boots that depicted Assata Shakur were my favorite.  With everything that is negative in the media, it is good to see some strong role models.”

The audience was captivated by special performances from GABNet Chair-Elect DJ Kuttin Kandi who sang with O-Love from the Heart, members of Kamalayan Kollektive of San Diego who danced “Ka Singkil”, and hip hop artist Bambu with his socially conscious emceeing skills. The program closed with the singing of “Bread and Roses,” and a poem highlighting GABNet’s 20 years of activism.

“GABNet is about pushing the envelope and making people take notice of what is happening to women around the world. 2009 is the year we celebrate our 20th anniversary and we are setting forward a new women’s agenda.  It’s time.” said outgoing Chair, Dr. Annalisa Enrile.

Thirty additional artists from all over the country sent custom designed tennis shoes which were part of a silent auction to benefit GABNet. Another highlight of the event was the mini bazaar which took place on the second level of the plaza after the fashion show. Community artists and vendors such as DC/Marvel Comic Artist Tony De Zuniga, Filipina-American artist Loralei Bingamon,, and Beatrock Clothing were featured.

This event is part of GABNet’s ongoing celebration of International Working Women’s Day

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