Holding general strikes has long been a part of the women’s movement. The large statement that can be made from women abstaining from going to work, childcare, emotional labor, sex, sex work and unwaged domestic work has the power to speak volumes to people who do not identify as women and do not realize the extent of our labor, both paid and unpaid.
This year, women from 30 countries will join together for a global strike, A Day Without a Woman, on March 8 for International Women’s Day. What better way to celebrate women’s day than taking to streets to stand against decades-long of economic inequality, double standards, glass ceilings and racial and sexual violence?
Sonni Farrow was asked to join the NYC chapter to help plan direct actions for the women’s strike. Farrow told GO that this action has been inspired by the recent Women’s March, the successful strikes in Poland against anti-abortion legislation, and mass demonstrations in Argentina and Italy. There is a growing global willingness from women to join together against state-sanctioned violence.
“Gender-based violence has economic implications as well as interpersonal. What does it mean to internationally refuse domestic work, sex work, and other creative interpretations of a strike?” Farrow continued, “If you can’t take the day off work, try to not put on a friendly face. Leave the office for an hour. When we refuse to allocate our energy in this way, we can give to one another instead.”
Farrow explained to GO that an anti-capitalist framework is at the core this women’s strike. Farrow said that organizers behind this event feel that when working to undo neo-liberal frameworks they believe have impoverished and silenced women for decades, those at the heart of the movement must have space in leadership roles. This means women of color, lesbian, queer and trans women, sex workers, unwaged caregivers, Muslim and Arab women, women with disabilities and undocumented women will all be at the forefront of this strike.
“Radical queer and trans folks have been, in some ways, not very inspired by the kind of feminism we’ve had available as of recently,” Farrow told GO. “Coming out with an international call for action, we have an opportunity to imagine a different kind of feminism. One that includes a systemic critique.”
Farrow explained to GO that from her standpoint, though the promises of capitalism may seem well-intentioned with claims of constant growth, accumulation of more rights and job creation, she and her organizers feel that none of this has actually happened for the majority of Americans. “As queers, we’ve had moments of really hard struggle and after years and years of fighting, we’ve won some stuff. But the reality for the majority is that rent is up, jobs are scarce, we’re about to lose the last of the healthcare we did have and so many of us lack basic human rights,” Farrow said.
One reaction that may come up to this movement is “Why global?” Women of the world face many different cultural and economic struggles that may make it difficult to unite under one platform. This draws to mind a conversation between Angela Davis and Frank Barat included in “Freedom is a Constant Struggle.” While Davis and Barat are discussing solidarity with Palestine, she considers the question of how to create “windows and doors for people who believe in justice,” but don’t necessarily know how to enter the conversation. Davis believes that when people are able to feel a commonality with the struggle, that is their connection to the movement.
Farrow feels that by broadening feminism to be anti-capitalist in a global approach, it allows our many communities of women to explore the commonalities in economic struggles. At the same time that queer and trans women in America are resisting the mass incarceration system; women in Peru can be paving the way for gaining payment for caring work. These two movements are woven of the same fabric and will allow women to stand up for each other with more understanding than previous versions of feminism allowed for.
This movement is not only a reaction to recent political changes, but an effort to tackle larger systemic issues that organizers believe have led to the realities we are currently facing. In their platform, they have stated: “We want March 8th to be the beginning of a renewed feminist movement that organizes resistance not only against Donald Trump and his misogynist policies, but also against the conditions that produced Trump, namely the “decades-long economic inequality, racial and sexual violence, colonial assault on native people, and imperial wars abroad.”
The actions themselves on March 8 will be multifaceted and accessible. Farrow explained that, besides the general call to strike for all women, there will be a permitted rally and march in Washington Square Park. Participants will take solidarity actions with Standing Rock, Flint and incarcerated women. For those who can risk arrest, there will also be multiple other direct actions planned by different organizing groups that may target the likes of ICE and immigration detention centers.
“We’re not expecting the march to be super militant,” Farrow explained as she threw hints of an epic queer dance party at the end of the march. Be sure to check back with their Facebook page for updates.
We hope to see all of you women of the world fill the streets on March 8.