Women in over 50 countries took part in the Women’s Strike on March 8. The first reports came from Rome, which was essentially shut down as 20,000 women participated in protests that started at the Colosseum and continued through the streets, blocking traffic and shutting down public transportation.
Argentina there were three days of strikes. On Feb. 3, at an open
assembly, activists in the women’s movement agreed to ask
labor unions to support the women’s strikes—and they responded
favorably. A teacher’s strike took place on the first day, followed
by a strike called by the industrial unions against the government’s
economic measures, and then followed by strikes in solidarity with
International Women’s Day. This involved transportation workers,
airport workers, teachers, and students. Tens of thousands of women
marched in Buenos Aires.
is a major issue for Argentina’s feminist movement, where one woman
is killed every 30 hours because of gender. One striker who was
quoted in The
New York Times said,
“We cannot get used to that as if it were normal.”
Mexico the theme is also violence against women. Seven women are
murdered every day. More women disappear as human traffickers’
networks collaborate with the state. Women earn 25% less than men
and in addition perform unpaid labor in the home.
Iceland, which has had several women’s strikes in its history, the
government announced plans to introduced legislation to end gender
pay disparities by 2022. It will be mandatory for both public and
Russian feminists unfurled a giant poster outside the Kremlin
denouncing patriarchy. They were promptly arrested and then released.
Fourteen women were arrested at a larger protest in St
Petersburg. “We were harshly detained for singing songs and
chanting on Malaya Sadovaya Street. We are on our way to the 78th
police precinct. Happy Women’s Day,” activist Varya Mikhailova
wrote on Twitter.
France there were demonstrations in cities across the country.
Unions, feminist organizations, and student associations called for
strikes starting at 3:40 p.m. as a symbol of when working women stop
being paid, compared to men’s wages. The average pay gap is 26
percent. There were 20 demands, including salary increases, less
temporary work, and more enforcement of penalties for employers who
discriminate against women, including when they are pregnant.
than 700 feminists rallied in a conference hall in Seoul, South
Korea, calling for an end to gender discrimination and abortion
restrictions. Their signs and chants included “3 o’clock, stop!”
in reference to the pay gap. They are essentially working for free
after 3 p.m.
also organized in the Philippines; women demonstrated outside of a
Roman Catholic church in Manila and wore masks smudged with blood to
call for an end to violence against women.
in Dublin and Warsaw made reference to the ongoing struggles for
reproductive rights in those countries. The major demand in Ireland
is to set a date for the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment,
which is the basis for the anti-abortion law. Tens of thousands of
women took over the streets of Dublin and blocked the O’Connell
Bridge. In Australia over 1000 child-care workers went out on strike
around the country as part of their ongoing campaign for higher wages
for workers caring for young children.
schools and businesses close
50 towns and cities in the United States planned March 8 events,
including walking out of work.
Dek, a Palestinian who is on the Women’s Strike, U.S. planning
committee, told Harpers
she was striking: “We are not interested in a feminism of the
elites. We are interested in a feminism of the masses … it must be
anti-racist and anti-imperialist feminism. So it is important
for me to be a part of organizing this movement, to mobilize
Arab and Muslim communities, to say we are agents of our own change.”
few days before March 8, it became clear that the strike would be big
when Jim Causby, superintendent of the 16 Chapel Hill-Carrboro City
public schools in North Carolina announced that schools would be
closed on March 8 due to the lack of staff on that day. Three
quarters of the 2000 workers said they would be striking: “I asked
our school principals and central office department heads to survey
staff to see how many absences will occur, the results came back, and
the number was significant. In fact it is my determination that we
will not have enough staff to safely run our school district.”
afterwards, Alexandria, Va., schools superintendent Alvin Crawley
decided not to hold classes, as hundreds of staff members would not
be working. In addition, the New School in New York and a preschool,
Maple Street School in Brooklyn, closed their doors in solidarity
with women workers.
teachers at Bayard Taylor elementary school in Philadelphia took the
day off and joined a march around City Hall to help draw attention to
the fact that Philadelphia teachers, mainly women, have worked for
almost four years without a contract and five years without a raise.
The school remained open, but regular classes were canceled. Later in
the day, about 400 protesters rallied and marched through central
the University of California, Berkeley, at least 30 professors and
instructors planned to either take their students to a demonstration
in support of the strike or not hold classes at all. After it was
clear that 1700 teachers in Prince Georgia’s County, Md., public
schools and 30% of the transportation staff would not be working on
Wednesday, the district decided to close all schools for the day.
women left work as individuals and it was hard to assess the impact
in mixed-gender workplaces or places where women were not
concentrated in one location. But it does make sense that there was a
big impact on schools. Schools are like traditional factory floors,
where everyone is in one place, making organizing easier. They work
in the same buildings and take lunch and breaks together.
Municipal Court in Providence, R.I., announced it would be closed due
to the women’s strike. They said 75 cases would be rescheduled.
Chicago, some 200 rallied, and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) later
filled their hall with close to 1000 union women, Fight For 15, local
teachers, health-care workers, transit union members, Planned
Parenthood of Illinois, and immigrant rights and anti-racism
organizations. A trans woman spoke about the fact that she was
terrified and angry by measures taken and threatened by the Trump
administration, but she ended by saying, “Everything he does just
makes me want to fight harder.”
Washington, D.C., there were two marches. One was at the White
House to protest the global gag rule, which threatens access to safe
abortion and health care for millions around the world. The Executive
Order cuts off U.S. aid for international NGOs that offer abortion
services or abortion referrals. There was also a massive rally at the
U.S. Department of Labor, where women workers and their allies
demanded an end to sexual harassment and violence against women in
the workplace, a living wage, and union rights.
Fairbanks, Alaska, 60 women committed to striking on International
Women’s Day. In Lafayette, Ind., and Gainesville, Fla., they were
organized to strike. There was a picket line in Carbondale, Ill.,
where the protesters called for “Feminism for the 99 percent.”
Duluth, Minn., organized a 78-minute strike. Their walkout addressed
the ongoing pay gap between white men and women as well as addressing
the pay gap between white men and women of color.
>> The article above was written by Ann Montague, and is reprinted from Socialist Action.