How Was the March 8 International Women’s Strike Woven Together?

Bread and Roses
Mill work­ers in the Bread and Ros­es strike of 1912. Lawrence, MA.

Last Octo­ber 19, the call for a women’s strike to protest the femi­cide of six­teen year old Lucía Pérez, who was stabbed to death, con­nect­ed male vio­lence with forms of labor, eco­nom­ic, social, and ter­ri­to­r­i­al vio­lence and pre­cariza­tion, and denounced them as a new “ped­a­gogy of cru­el­ty” on women’s bod­ies (in a scene with unde­ni­able colo­nial echoes).

That femi­cide occurred the day after the 31st Nation­al Women’s Meet­ing in Rosario (Argenti­na), in which 70,000 women par­tic­i­pat­ed and, in a clos­ing march, occu­pied forty street blocks. The meet­ing only appeared in the press because it was repressed at the end. At the begin­ning of that same month, women in Poland con­voked a nation­al strike reject­ing the changes that were being imposed in local leg­is­la­tion to fur­ther restrict access to legal abor­tion.

Fol­low­ing the Octo­ber 19 Women’s Strike and the for­ma­tion of alliances of women from dif­fer­ent parts of the world, the call emerged for an Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Strike on March 8.

The pre­cur­sors to the mas­sive demon­stra­tions against femi­cides under the ral­ly­ing cry Not One Less (#NiU­na­Menos), which took place on June 32015 and 2016 in Argenti­na, had demon­strat­ed a strong mobi­liz­ing pow­er. And over the last year, a net­work of coor­di­na­tion between dif­fer­ent Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries was already being woven.

The Octo­ber 19 Strike was the first women’s strike in the his­to­ry of Argenti­na and Latin Amer­i­ca. A strike was called for one hour, in all pos­si­ble spaces: work­places, edu­ca­tion­al spaces, domes­tic spaces, neigh­bor­hood ones, etc. The fol­low­ing mobi­liza­tion was tru­ly enor­mous: more than 250,000 peo­ple in Buenos Aires and more march­es all over the coun­try (#Noso­trasParamos). Latin Amer­i­ca was rapid­ly con­nect­ed through the strike call.

Using the tool of the strike allowed for high­light­ing the eco­nom­ic fab­ric of patri­ar­chal vio­lence. And it was also an enor­mous demon­stra­tion of pow­er because we removed our­selves from the place of the vic­tim to posi­tion our­selves as polit­i­cal sub­jects and pro­duc­ers of val­ue. We com­pli­cat­ed the cat­e­go­ry of women work­ers and made it clear that work is also domes­tic and infor­mal, and includes forms of self-man­aged asso­ci­a­tion. As the slo­gan Ni Una Menos had already been tak­en up in var­i­ous Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries, the Octo­ber 19 mobi­liza­tions were quick­ly repli­cat­ed, in con­nec­tion with the Argen­tinean call and the demands of each coun­try against patri­ar­chal vio­lence.

The orga­ni­za­tion of assem­blies, acts, and mobi­liza­tions for Novem­ber 25 (tak­ing advan­tage of anoth­er appoint­ment on the women’s cal­en­dar: the day for the elim­i­na­tion of vio­lence against women) accel­er­at­ed the work of trans­ver­sal con­nec­tion between many coun­tries, exceed­ing the usu­al ini­tia­tives on that date.

A new geog­ra­phy was drawn going from from Ciu­dad Juárez to Moscow, from Guayaquil to War­saw and Sao Pao­lo, from Rome to San Sal­vador de Jujuy. The local and glob­al fab­ric pro­duced a new type of inter­na­tion­al­ism that was seen in the net­works and in the streets – a new prac­tice of fem­i­nist inter­na­tion­al­ism.

An ini­tia­tive is being coor­di­nat­ed through Face­book – the Paro Inter­na­cional de Mujeres/International Women’s Strike (PIM) – by a group of women in Poland, who have been joined by activists from var­i­ous coun­tries in Europe and oth­er regions of the world. Along with a web­site, the Face­book group is also cir­cu­lat­ing a peti­tion to the Unit­ed Nations and a man­i­festo.

On Jan­u­ary 23, Ni Una Menos launched its own call, with dif­fer­ent con­tents from the peti­tion to the Unit­ed Nations and the PIM man­i­festo. We under­stand that the man­i­festo has to be nour­ished based on con­crete sit­u­a­tions and strug­gles, and linked to the con­struc­tion of a dynam­ic that demands sys­tem­at­ic changes and com­bats the dom­i­nant neolib­er­al, neo­con­ser­v­a­tive, racist, and patri­ar­chal mod­el. We believe that we are in a process of accu­mu­la­tion of a new type: where strug­gles res­onate and work by gain­ing strength from inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty.

The Women’s March in the Unit­ed States on Jan­u­ary 21 is part of this cycle that demon­strates a new form of fem­i­nism: the over­lap­ping move­ments of women, trans peo­ple, and migrants refuse to remain sub­ject­ed to the empire of new forms of cap­i­tal­ist exploita­tion. Fol­low­ing that march, there is now a call from orga­niz­ers to join the March 8 strike.

We are com­mit­ted not only to vir­tu­al coor­di­na­tion, but also to patient­ly weav­ing a new fab­ric, body-to-body and in the streets. We open up dia­logues and work every day in con­struct­ing net­works with all the coun­tries of Latin Amer­i­ca and with oth­er parts of the world.

On Feb­ru­ary 3, in an open and het­ero­ge­neous assem­bly, all the cur­rents of the women’s move­ment in Argenti­na agreed upon a call to labor unions to sup­port the women’s strike ini­tia­tive. We appeal pre­cise­ly to an inter­pel­la­tion of the ques­tion of work, and do so in a fem­i­nist key: we are not only talk­ing about waged and for­mal work­ers, but also inscrib­ing our cri­tique, our demands, and our strike in a frame­work that ful­ly chal­lenges the pre­cariza­tion of our lives and the crim­i­nal­iza­tion of our auton­o­my.

We believe that the mul­ti­plic­i­ty of calls for the March 8 Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Strike becomes pow­er­ful when it high­lights a lin­eage of pop­u­lar strug­gles and the women’s move­ment in a new way, propos­ing here and now the world in which we want to live, and link­ing it and sit­u­at­ing it with tra­jec­to­ries and strug­gles from each ter­ri­to­ry.

– Trans­lat­ed by Liz Mason-Deese

Author of the article

is a feminist collective against male violence, based in Argentina.