“You strike a woman, you strike a rock!”

Across the world, women took to the streets for International Working Women’s Day to demand dignity, equality, and freedom

March 09, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Members of Brazilian people's movements participated in a mobilization in São Paulo on March 8. Photo: Emilly Firmino

Over the past several years, working class movements across the world have taken to the streets and plazas on March 8, International Working Women’s Day in recognition of the day as an important day of struggle and resistance and to further the cause of women’s liberation. The day which corporations and NGOs have attempted to dilute into a day to give presents to women and recognize their achievements has radical roots. It was established by socialist women in the heat of militant labor and internationalist organizing in order to highlight women’s centrality in the struggle to overthrow class based oppression, as well as to end the unique oppression faced by women.

Today the roots of the day have once again been put at the center of the conversation with people’s movements, feminist organizations, left parties, and progressive groups organizing militant mobilizations, strikes, and actions to demand an end to gender-based violence and oppression, the guarantee to fundamental rights such as abortion and safety, and dignity in the broadest sense, meaning access to employment, housing, and education.

In the United States, feminists continue to celebrate the legacy of IWD, even in the current hostile political climate. Last week, the United States Senate voted down the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have enshrined the right to an abortion into law rather than merely into legal code. On March 6 and 7, on the weekend preceding International Working Women’s Day, women’s rights activists in the Party for Socialism and Liberation widely denounced the Senate’s actions in a series of rallies and marches organized in cities across the country. Signs across the country were emblazoned with slogans such as “End the war on women’s rights!”, “Only the struggle has won women’s rights!”, and “Safe abortions, on demand, no apologies!”

Meanwhile, in Brazil, the women of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) continue to advance the struggle of women within their broader demand for people’s agrarian reform. On March 8, 100 women occupied the Botafogo Farm, in the municipality of Jussari to demand the area be designated for agrarian reform. Women of the MST also held actions, distributed food, and marched in numerous Brazilian cities alongside other people’s movements in the country such as Levante Popular da Juventude (Popular Youth Uprising), World March of Women, Movement Against Dams, and others.

 

In Guatemala, women in Izabal organized a community forum centered around International Women’s Day, with an emphasis on food sovereignty.

Across Colombia, feminists organized actions like a sit-in demanding accountability for harassment, marches opposing violence against women, and a fair selling goods creating by working women.

In El Salvador, women marched in protest of femicide, and the “complicit silence of the state”.

Feminists in Mexico mobilized in cities across the country against femicides and violence. The country has one of the highest rates of femicide in the region and the callousness with which the phenomenon is treated by the justice system was the subject of an Amnesty International report “Justice on Trial: Failures in criminal investigations of femicides preceded by disappearance in the State of Mexico”.

In the Indian State of Kerala, where communists hold political power, the state government introduced several measures centered around women’s issues. As the Chief Minister of Kerala tweeted, the measures included “A portal to manage complaints on dowry, martial arts training for women, premarital counseling program, and gender audited books for Anganwadis.”

In Zambia, the Socialist Party Women’s League gathered across the country (Eastern, Lusaka, Luapula provinces) in public demonstrations to draw attention to the deep social and economic inequalities inherited from African feudalism, colonialism and contemporary capitalism.

In Tanzania, peasant women of Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Tanzania, in collaboration with organisations in the international peasant network of La Via Campesina Southern and Eastern Africa, held a weekend workshop on working-class women struggles in Africa and a public march to mark International Women’s Day, under the banner: ‘Dismantle Social Classes To Build Gender Equality.’

In Italy, feminist organization Non Una Di Meno, originally founded to oppose femicide, called a general strike for March 8th to address the precarious situation of women workers after two years of pandemic, among other agitational points such as student’s and LGBTQ issues. “On 8M we show that we are not alone, that we are a collective force.” wrote the organization. “We are convinced: the feminist and transfeminist strike is for the people, of all genders.”

Women activists organized throughout all of Europe, including in Tuzla, where feminists organized a march for safe childbirth and other reproductive rights. In Zagreb, the Faktiv feminist collective also called for a general strike. The collective wrote: “It is up to us to fight on behalf of girls and girls, on behalf of pensioners, workers, refugees and migrants, on behalf of trans and intersex people, on behalf of the homeless and all women who cannot fight for themselves today.”

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