Building “Feminism for the 99 Percent,” Women’s Strike Will Take Many Forms
by Deirdre Fulton –
‘March 8th will be the beginning of a new international feminist movement.’
Whether by walking off the job or boycotting “unseen” labor, women and allies around the world next week will stand up and speak out to say: Women’s rights are human rights.
Coinciding with International Women’s Day, the March 8 day of action is being promoted in solidarity by those who organized January’s Women’s March as well as a grassroots movement known as the International Women’s Strike (IWS). While both groups acknowledge that the election of President Donald Trump makes their call more urgent, their overlapping visions look beyond one administration—and reach further back into the past.
“March 8th will be the beginning of a new international feminist movement that organizes resistance not just against Trump and his misogynist policies, but also against the conditions that produced Trump, namely the decades long economic inequality, racial, and sexual violence, and imperial wars abroad,” IWS writes.
Participation will take many forms. In addition to rallies, teach-ins, and protests happening nationwide (a list of international events can be found here), there are many ways to mobilize—including for those people whose positions at home or the workplace are too precarious to allow for striking, or who can’t afford to do so.
Women’s March organizers wrote on their website Thursday that “[a]nyone, anywhere, can join by making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, in one or all of the following ways”:
- Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor;
- Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses);
- Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman.
Furthermore, the group adds: “We ask that our male allies lean into care-giving on March 8th, and use the day to call out decision-makers at the workplace and in the government to extend equal pay and adequate paid family leave for women.”
Groups have provided letters that can be given to employers as well as domestic partners, family members, or spouses to explain a woman’s chosen absence.
“I hope you will stand in support of me, and any of my women colleagues who choose to participate, in observance of this day,” the letter to work supervisors reads. “Places of employment can participate by closing for the day or giving women workers the day off, whether paid or unpaid. Even more important than the symbolism of standing with women on March 8, the Women’s March is asking all employers to perform an audit of their policies impacting women and families. By ensuring that women have pay equity, a livable wage, and paid leave, businesses can demonstrate that their long-term actions align with the values we are standing up for on this day.”
The letter written for those planning to walk out of care-giving or housework reads in part: “We halt our work to highlight just how meager, how lackluster, and how dysfunctional the world would be without us. We strike to demand that both our paid and unpaid labor be valued and fairly compensated. We strike to demand that we be allowed to live, labor, and love with dignity.”
Speaking with The Nation, IWS plannerslisted eight ways for women and allies to get involved, including:Tithi Bhattacharya and Cinzia Arruzza
Plug into existing struggles. Are domestic workers in your area organizing? Is there a Fight for $15 movement in your city? You can mark March 8 by supporting existing campaigns, labor negotiations, or controversies, especially if they involve working women. You can find groups you might want to connect with among the strike’s endorsers, which includes the NYC bodega strikers and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.
This is in keeping with the day’s larger goals of building a “feminism for the 99 percent,” as Princeton University professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (an author of the initial call to strike) explained to journalist Sarah Jaffe this week:
The traditional shackles on poor and working-class women are still in effect and actually have to be responded to and attended to. Feminism for the 99 percent is about rejecting the idea that women are only or primarily concerned with their role in the elite male world, but that there are still very basic issues; such as access to reproductive healthcare, access to abortion, and wage differentials. Black women make $0.63 for each dollar that white men make, for example. That, of course, is lower than the usual barometer that people use, the $0.78 to the dollar that white women make. Black women make substantially less than that.
There is still the issue of child care; there is no access to public or state-funded child care. The attacks on public education, the attacks on the public infrastructure—all of these have disproportionate impact on the lives of women. On a very basic level, we need a feminist politics that responds to these issues as the most urgent. I think we saw that the outpouring around the Jan. 21 protest showed that there is actually quite vast support for a resurgent feminist movement. Part of our objective is to argue for a certain kind of radical politics within that and not for a political agenda that is quite limited and has these kind of narrow goals about the social mobility of women within corporate America as a sole objective.
Follow as plans develop under the hashtags #March8Strike and #DayWithoutAWoman.