International Women’s Day, March 8, is set as the date for women’s strikes around the world. This event comes on the heels of a series of strikes and mass demonstrations last year when women poured into the streets of Poland, Ireland, Turkey, Italy, Argentina, and Iceland.
time, the call by the International Women’s Strike Network has been
answered by more than 30 countries around the world and on every
continent. Women in each country are creating their own platforms and
majority of demands deal with issues ranging from violence against
women and reproductive rights to social demands like the minimum
wage, labor rights, equal pay, public services, and health care.
Demands also oppose racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia.
The forms that actions will take also vary by country and include
strikes, direct action, mass marches, pickets, and boycotts. In
Italy, women are organizing with radical trade unions for women-led
call for the International Women’s Strike was issued last October.
The women organizers were clear about the issues that are central to
their demands and the power of women to win: “We, the women of the
world, are fed up with violence addressed at us, physical, economic,
verbal and moral. We will no longer tolerate it passively.
demand that our governments stop using misogynist insults and start
taking real measures to solve numerous problems related to our
safety, free access to medical care, including abortion, the
establishment of severe penalties to be applied to our oppressors in
cases of rape, domestic violence and every gender-based crime.…
aware citizens, we the women of the world, know the world is going
through a crisis phase, but we do not accept being victims of it.”
original statement was signed by women in 17 countries. That number
has now greatly increased, as over 30 countries are planning women’s
strikes on March 8.
impetus for the global strike looked back to the historic example of
women who went on strike in Iceland in 1975. This inspired women in
Poland, who organized a day-long strike on Oct. 3, 2016, to stop a
law criminalizing abortion and miscarriage. The legislation was
immediately withdrawn by the government.
the same month, Korean women came out to protest several times
against greater penalties for doctors who performed abortions. This
was followed by women in Argentina, who went on strike and held
massive rallies after the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl. As
protests continued around the world, the International Women’s
Strike chose March 8 to launch the largest global women’s strike in
in the United States
Women’s Strike, U.S. has been launched in solidarity with the
International Women’s Strike. On Feb. 6, eight prominent U.S.
feminists wrote an article for The Guardian calling
for strikes and demonstrations on March 8. They spoke of the need for
a “feminism for the 99%” and waging a militant feminist struggle.
our view,” the women wrote, “it is not enough to oppose Trump and
his aggressively misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic and racist
policies. We also need to target the neoliberal attack on social
provision and labor rights. Women’s conditions of life, especially
those of women of color and of working, unemployed and migrant women,
have steadily deteriorated over the last 30 years, thanks to
financialization and corporate globalization.”
referenced the recent women’s strikes in Poland, South Korea, and
Ireland against abortion bans and in defense of reproductive rights,
and marches in Latin America against male violence against women.
stated that the first step in building a new feminist movement would
be to help build an international strike against male violence and in
defense of reproductive rights on March 8. The
expansive platform they collaboratively developed covered: An
End To Gendered Violence, Reproductive Justice For All, Labor Rights,
Full Social Provisioning, and For An Anti-racist and Anti-imperialist
Feminism. For the full platform, see womenstrikeus.org.
24 cities across the United States are planning strikes and
international solidarity events, and there are even more U.S. cities
where women have begun meeting to plan events for March 8.
strikes are inclusive of all women and all forms of work that women
do: Women working in the formal labor market with or without labor
rights, unions and the legal right to strike, and legal status;
unemployed women; sex workers; women performing unpaid housework and
care work; and students.
might mean a strike for the day, a partial day strike, marches,
rallies, or forums. It might also be a boycott or picket of a local
misogynist business or individual. If women are not able to leave
care and housework for the day to participate in actions, they can
wear red and talk to others about what is happening globally and why
they are in solidarity with women around the globe.
the launching of the International Women’s Strike, U.S., the main
organizers of the Jan. 21 Women’s March announced March 8 as “A
Day Without Women,” which would be rooted in calls for boycotts on
that day. The two groups are in solidarity with each other and may
organize some events together in some parts of the country.
Women’s Day: A proud history
Women’s Day is recognized in 25 countries as an official holiday,
but the United States is not one of them. The history of the holiday
goes back to 1908 when 15,000 women garment workers marched through
New York City to demand shorter work hours, higher pay, and voting
rights. The following year saw a 13-week strike of immigrant women
garment workers against Triangle Shirtwaist and other sweatshops.
The strike continued through the brutal winter and was known as
the “Uprising of the 20,000.”
by the struggles of the women garment workers in the United States,
German socialist Clara Zetkin (seen in photo above) agitated for a
day to mark working women’s International solidarity.
1910, women from 17 countries attended the Second
International Conference of Working Women, which designated
International Working Women’s Day in response to the mass
strikes and demonstrations by women workers in the United States.
following year, one million women throughout Europe marched in the
streets to demand their rights on International Working Women’s
Day, and in following years they protested the imperialist World War.
1917, Russian women textile workers went on strike on International
Women’s Day, demanding, “Peace, Land, and Bread.” This
sparked the struggle to overthrow the Tsar and the beginning of the
March 8, International Women’s Day, whether you walk off the job
for the whole day, leave work early to protest wage inequality,
attend a rally, march, picket or boycott, you are part of the actions
happening around the globe.
is an important continuation of the solidarity shown in 1910
when Clara Zetkin in Germany insisted on creating a day inspired by
women workers struggling in the United States.
>> The article above was written by Ann Montague and is reprinted from Socialist Action.