6 Million Women Reclaim their Power: The1st Feminist General Strike

A strike against/beyond borders: The March 8 feminist strike

It was to be a Feminist women’s strike, at work and in the home. In order to give it legal coverage it had to be officially registered by a Trade Union, in this case the anarchist CGT and CNT. But it’s not legal to call a Women’s Strike in the Spanish State, so they went one further and registered it as the first feminist General Strike. Legal and official.  Helped by hundreds of women’s collectives, women journalists and social media the strike snowballed amazingly to over 6 million women.

photo: 3 anarchist women after legally registering a General Strike.

by Julius Gavroche      main text from autonomies  with thanks

This year’s call for a global women’s strike to mark the 8th of March women’s day was expressed in protests throughout the world.  But it found no greater resonance than in the Spanish State.

The call to strike was already in itself a radical gesture, to move beyond the ever so often tepid parades of slogans for equality of rights.  However useful such moments may be, their political limitations are profound.https://thefreeonline.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/cartel-cgt-llamada-convocado-derechos_ediima20180118_0870_19.jpg

In the Spanish State, the strike call was made in the name of feminism: March 8th was to be a Huelga Feminista, under the rallying cry of “If we stop, the world stops!”.  And if Spain did not come altogether to a stand still, tens of thousands protested during the day and roving pickets closed roads, public transportation services, shops.  Public and private sector workers (teachers, journalists, care workers, cleaners (las kellys) and so on) struck.

Originally called by radical labour unions (the CNT, CGT, among others), along with hundreds of feminist collectives and other political groups, its extraordinary resonance finally forced Spain’s larger labour unions (the CCOO and the UGT) to join, with their membership contributing to a two hour afternoon labour stoppage involving some 6 million people. (El Pais 08/03/2018).


 CAN YOU describe how the strike was organized? What were the most important organizations?  …..THE STRIKE began to be organized in August and September of 2017, a time during which many feminist collectives in the Spanish state met to analyze the feminist movement and the situation in which it was operating and to assess the potential for organizing a strike on March 8, 2018, following the strike organized by feminists in Argentina in March 2017. …YOU CAN read the strike’s manifesto here.

Since then, we’ve been calling assemblies, discussing political platforms in all parts of the Spanish state where feminists are active, and organizing women’s commissions among trade unionists and activists in general. This all came together at a statewide meeting of 450 women in Zaragoza, in which we agreed upon a manifesto and the specific kind of strike we would call.

Night brought the final act, with massive demonstrations in spain’s cities (over half a million people in Madrid and Barcelona, respectively).  And for those who could not take to the streets, gestures of solidarity were multiplied (most notably, an apron hung in a window or on a balcony, by women who could cease to provide for needs).

As a “feminist strike”, the goal was never simply to close down “production”, but to close down “everything”: production and consumption, service provision, transportation, etc.; to disrupt the multitude of diverse activities that are reserved to women (and through which they are defined and oppressed as “women”) that assure the re-production of the social relations of capitalism;

To end the violence directed against women, the violence that secures the oppression and exploitation of patriarchy (in spain, while 1,000 women have been murdered in the last 14 years, more often than not at the hands of men they know, they carry twice the burden of unpaid domestic work, and when paid, earn on average 30% less than men). (Kaosenlared.net 08/03/2018))

No political parties led the women’s strike, and there were hardly any nationalist flags present. Peaceful, festive and with drums being played, women picked up and echoed chants blaring from megaphones: We’re tired of the normalized repression women suffer under capitalism, they affirmed,  tired of working without getting paid, tired of not getting our work recognized and tired of a system that frames women as a reason for poverty. The acceptance of the diversity of women — including lesbian and trans women — was one of the main demands of the strike’s manifesto.


What was, and remains, thus ultimately at stake are the overlapping (practical, institutional and corporal-conceptual) binaries and borders that order the male-centred, hierarchical sex-gendered world that capitalism rests upon and creates.

The goal made the strike unpredictably rebellious.  For months, the work of dissemination and debate fell back on older, horizontal networks of solidarity and militancy, while new fora and relations were generated and for a day, the squares and streets of cities filled with life rather than commodities.https://thefreeonline.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/banner_guc3ada-8m-cnt.png

The temptation and/or effort to domesticate such a strike remains powerful.

And women’s day should never be just a “day”.

And the streets should not be allowed to return to “normal”.

A women’s or feminist strike must go beyond the calendar of conservative celebration.  The strike must become permanent, overflowing, wild, a threshold of refusal and creation.

Barcelona

… from El Salto …

… from Diario Público …

Madrid

… from El Diario …

… and throughout the Spanish State.

 


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