*Strike held on International Women’s Day to reclaim the day*
*Women express anger at pushback on their human rights*
08 March, 2020 | Chiang Mai, Thailand/New York USA
On International Women’s day over one million women in all their diversities, from 59 countries went on a Women’s Global Strike to highlight the injustices women continue to face and demand structural change to advance women’s human rights. Women mobilised in large numbers across the world from the Philippines, India, Fiji, Nepal, United Kingdom, Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador to Paraguay saying ‘If Women Stop, The World Stops’. Cultural caravans, community theatre performances, concerts, demonstrations, marches and debates were among some of the diverse ways in which the participants rose up in protest in their regions and local communities around the world.
International Women’s Day is not a marketing campaign to make women feel beautiful but historically, it has been a day where women have put their lives at risk to defend their human rights and fundamental freedoms. ‘Filipino women led by GABRIELA joined the Women’s Global Strike to demand land, living wage, decent and regular jobs, and respect for our human rights especially in the midst of intensifying state fascism and repression. As we commemorate the International Women’s Day, we strike against imperialist globalisation, militarism, authoritarianism and patriarchy that threaten the lives of working women the world over’, said Joms Salvador, Secretary General of GABRIELA, Philippines.
Women’s demands have resonated globally including a need for alternative development models that center people and planet, uphold human rights, food sovereignty and climate justice. ‘We joined the strike because the extractivist economic model is threatening both the environment and lives of indigenous women. Because we want a life free of violence and discrimination against women and girls. Because we want the end of patriarchy’, said Toribia Lero, Bolivian indigenous leader, Coordinator of Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas and member of the International Network of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
‘When you are privileged, equality can feel like oppression. As I see right-wing populism spreading and gaining ground in Europe while global inequalities are growing, I find myself thinking, can they not see the correlation of their actions? Be it the tax avoidance of people from my region, or the shipping of waste to other continents, our extractivism in our and other regions, unsustainable consumption and travelling. It all has an impact on gender equality. Like neoliberalism, inequalities are not bound by borders, and it shows the importance of global solidarity. This is why we took to the streets today and why we are fighting everyday for the full realisation of our human rights’, said Hanna Gunnarsson, Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF), Germany.
‘We’re hearing every day of women and girls being abused, raped and murdered. Women are still demanding safe workplaces, decent pay, equal opportunities and an end to discrimination. They are at the forefront of these issues and the most affected during times of conflict, natural disasters and now with the climate crisis unfolding very close to home. This was why we joined the Women’s Global Strike’, said Nalini Singh, Executive Director, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM).
The coordinated strikes are a reminder that 25 years after governments got together to adopt the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for women’s rights, these promises have not been kept and structural oppression against women persists and even intensified worldwide in multiple forms.
‘Our future demands a system change to shift the current power relations – where women and girls in all their diversity have power to make decisions over their own bodies, labour, resources and the future of their communities and the planet. We know that change will not come from political or economic “elites” but through organised collective actions of feminist and peoples’ movements. Women’s Global Strike has just opened up that path and will continue to organise cross-movement direct actions to end inequalities, discrimination, violence and oppressions’ said Misun Woo, Regional Coordinator, Forum Asie-Pacifique sur les femmes, le droit et le développement (APWLD).
While this women’s global strike has mobilised diverse women and communities across the globe, this will not be the first or the last organised movement by women as fascism, hyper nationalism, use of military power, corporate capitalism and fundamentalism continue to be used to threaten fundamental human rights across the globe. Women’s collective power is the answer to reclaim democratic spaces and governance; and the voices of dissent with a vision and pathways for a new feminist future led by women will continue to grow stronger.
|Statistics At A Glance|
Structural oppression against women – whether it is patriarchy, neoliberalism, globalisation, militarism, fundamentalisms or environmental destruction, persists worldwide: Women and girls continue to perform more than three-quarters of the total amount of unpaid care work, while domestic work is commonly underpaid and performed under precarious working conditions.Women across the world are paid 63% of the amount that men are paid. The global pay gap will take 202 years to close. 70% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. 80% of people displaced by climate change are women.
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The demand for a global strike led and owned by women was ignited by feminists, trade unionists and activists at the People’s General Assembly held in 2015, in New York. This call for a Women’s Global Strike on 8 March 2020 has been initiated by the Forum Asie-Pacifique sur les femmes, le droit et le développement (APWLD), a leading network of over 240 feminist organisations and grassroots activists in Asia and the Pacific.
ESCR-Net – International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, is connecting struggles to escalating the Women’s Global Strike to the global level. ESCR-Net is a global network that promotes solidarity and collective action to advance a global movement for social justice, and unites 298 organisations, social movements and advocates across 77 countries in five regions.