A day without women? The world would likely come to a standstill. After all, a day without women is a day without half the workforce, perhaps more. According to the United Nations, women work on average 30-50 minutes more than men when unpaid labor is also taken into account. It’s a day without those who do the brunt of the cooking, cleaning and caring in homes across the world. A day without mothers. A day without a whole lot of doctors, teachers, nurses, cleaners, carers, scientists, administrators, and social workers. A day without sex, care and affection for many people.
That day is approaching. Next Wednesday, March 8, the International Women’s Strike will take place in over forty countries across the globe. Described as an “international day of action,” and something between a digital and grassroots social phenomenon, it invites all women to strike, march, picket, organize and agitate for governments across the world to take a greater role in ensuring safety, freedom and equality for women.
Organized by various feminist groups and activists in October of 2016 in a response to the “social, legal, political, moral and verbal violence” directed at contemporary women, and gaining momentum from such events as The Women’s March on Washington, the cause has a broad platform. An end to gender violence. Reproductive rights for all. Labor Rights. Full Social Provisioning. In keeping with its relatively decentralized and grassroots nature — there is a website in English and Spanish. The US chapter has its own webpage, but it encourages all to self-organize.
Argentina will likely play an important role in the strike, as women’s movements here have already made headlines over the last couple of years with their direct action in response to sexism. Last year, after a week of extreme violence towards women, including the violent rape and murder of 16 year old Lucía Pérez in Mar Del Plata, the Ni Una Menos collective called for a national women’s strike on October 19th. The hour-long women’s strike — the first in Argentina’s history — was followed with a march from the Obelisco to the Plaza de Mayo. Thousands attended, marching through the pouring rain with banners and signs demanding reproductive rights and an end to violence against women.
This time round, there are strikes planned in various locations throughout Buenos Aires Province, as well as Entre Rios and Santa Fe. Expect pickets, protests, marches, and people wearing black. In Buenos Aires, the strike will kick off at 12 PM with a ruidazo (banging of pots and pans) and at 5 PM, protesters will march from the Obelisco to the Plaza de Mayo, according to Ni Una Menos. The longstanding demand for the decriminalization of abortion and an end to femicides are expected to form the central pillars of the Argentine platform.
In preparation for the strike next Wednesday, a ‘twitterstorm’ took place this morning from 8am-1pm, with women tweeting their reasons for striking. Perhaps demonstrating the urgency of the strike for many, a frequent demand was the right to “live”, a call for an end to violence against women. Ingrid Beck tweeted, “Istrike8M because clandestine, unsafe abortion is the number one cause of maternal mortality in Argentina.” LPK wrote “Istrike8M because I’m sick of them killing us.”
#YoParo8M porque el aborto clandestino e inseguro es la primera causa de muerte de mujeres gestantes en la Argentina.
— Ingrid Beck (@soyingridbeck) March 3, 2017
— LPK (@LesbiaPacheco1) March 3, 2017
“New Militant Feminism”
Organized by feminist groups and activists the world over — and with the Ni Una Menos phenomenon of Argentine a key precursor and source of inspiration for the movement — the strike plans gained particular attention after a group of prominent feminists published an Op-Ed in the Guardian describing it as the latest expression of what appears to be a “new militant feminism.”
It is for many of the organizers an explicitly political movement that basically calls for a fundamental change in the current dominant political and social model. The US chapter, for instance, links women’s problems to the “decades of neo-liberalism” directed towards them, and argues that “lean-in” feminism – which puts a moral onus on women as individuals to promote themselves and their female colleagues in the workplace – fails the “99%.”
Meanwhile, in Argentina, the Ni Una Menos movement — a kind of loose, decentralized collective of journalists and activists — attributes violence and inequality to capitalism and patriarchy, which they allege go hand in hand. “We march against domestic confinement, against mandatory maternity, against competition among women, all forms created by the market and the model of the patriarchal family,” reads their open letter on Facebook.
In this context, the call for an end to violence and inequality is directed squarely at the government. For many of those organizing the strike, it is the state who needs to invest more in combating violence against women via social provisioning, as well as by changing the economic model so that women (and other marginalized groups) are protected from precarious, dangerous, poorly remunerated labor, and the violence they believe flows from it.
If last year is anything to go by, Wednesday should be a big day for women’s rights in Argentina. Expect thousands.
Ni Una Menos Facebook Page for strike
International Women’s Strike Argentine Facebook Page