How the call for an International Women’s Strike on March 8 arose

Huge demonstrations have taken place in Argentina against femicides under the rallying cry Not One More (#NiUnaMenos).

Ni Una Menos (“Not One More”) Collective is a feminist collective against male violence based in Argentina. In an article below, translated by Liz Mason-Deese, the group explains how its strike against gender violence last year has evolved into the call for an International Women’s Strike on March 8, International Women’s Day. It is slightly abridged from Viewpoint Magazine.

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Last October 19, the call for a women’s strike to protest the femicide of 16-year-old Lucia Perez, who was stabbed to death, connected male violence with forms of labour, economic and social violence and precarious working conditions.

That femicide occurred the day after the 31st National Women’s Meeting in Rosario, Argentina, in which 70,000 women took part and occupied forty street blocks. The meeting only appeared in the press because it was repressed.

At the start of the same month, women in Poland convoked a national strike rejecting changes to further restrict access to legal abortion.

After 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 huge demonstrations against femicides under the rallying cry Not One More (#NiUnaMenos), which took place on June 3 in 2015 and 2016 in Argentina, had demonstrated a strong mobilising power. And over the past 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 Latin America. It was called for one hour, in all possible spaces: workplaces, educational spaces, domestic spaces, neighbourhood ones, etc.

The October 19 mobilisation was enormous: more than 250,000 people demonstrated in Buenos Aires and many more marches were held all over the country. Latin America was rapidly connected through the strike call.

Using a strike highlighted the economic fabric of patriarchal violence. It was an enormous demonstration of power because we moved from being victims to political subjects and producers of value.

We made it clear that work is also domestic and informal, and includes forms of self-managed association. As the slogan “Not One More” had already been taken up in various Latin American countries, the October 19 mobilisations were quickly replicated across the region.

The organisation of assemblies and mobilisations for November 25 (the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) accelerated the connections between many countries.

From Mexico to Russia, from Ecuador to Poland, from Italy to Argentina, a new type of internationalism was expressed in the networks and in the streets — a new practice of feminist internationalism.

The International Women’s Strike initiative is being coordinated through Facebook by a group of women in Poland. They have been joined by activists from various countries in Europe and other regions of the world. 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. We understand that the manifesto has to be based on concrete situations and struggles. It has to be linked to building a dynamic that demands systemic changes and combats the dominant neoliberal, neoconservative, racist and patriarchal model.

The Women’s March in the United States on January 21 (the largest protests in US history) were part of this cycle that demonstrates a new form of feminism: the overlapping movements of women, trans people and migrants who refuse to remain subjugated.

There is now a call from organisers in the US to join the March 8 strike (see above).

We are committed to patiently weaving a new fabric, person-to-person and in the streets. We work every day to build networks around the world.

On February 3, in an open and broad assembly, all currents of Argentina’s women’s movement agreed on a call to labour unions to support the women’s strike. 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 precarious nature of our lives and criminalisation of our autonomy.

The range of calls for the March 8 International Women’s Strike becomes powerful when it highlights popular struggles and the women’s movement in a new way — proposing here and now the world we want to live in, and linking it with struggles from each territory.

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