When 16-year-old Lucía Pérez was killed in Argentina last October, media reported that she was drugged with cocaine and suffered cardiac arrest as a result of “inhumane sexual aggression.” Her death, which occurred the day after a women’s summit in the country, sparked a movement in Argentina that stretched to Spain, Mexico and within days Poland, where women were simultaneously holding mass demonstrations demanding safe, legal abortion access.
By November 25, an international coalition of women held a second wave of mass demonstrations. Now women from 49 countries are part of an International Women’s Strike today showing global solidarity in the fight against violence addressed at women physically, economically, verbally and morally. International organizers, who have outlined their call to strike on their official site, are asking women across the world to participate in a strike by not working, avoiding daily tasks, wearing red or black, attending rallies and making noise at 6 p.m. They also ask that women avoid any economic exchanges except with small minority and women-owned businesses.
The strike is the latest culmination in a series of international demonstrations held after Pérez’s murder. Although women in Argentina have mobilized against violence for some time (last June women there took to the streets protesting the public murders of 3 women and the organization Ni Una Menos has fought against violence for years) Pérez’s indescribable death further enraged women, igniting the international movement and the series of demonstrations held in Spain, Mexico and Argentina. Polish and Irish women connected with women in Latin America. In the U.S. the Women’s March on Washington called for a demonstration speaking out against the hatred, homophobia and sexism associated with the new administration and hundreds of thousands marched in the streets.
As international momentum heightened and International Women’s Day approached, the call for a March 8 strike materialized in Poland. Organizers released a petition alongside the strike announcement, demanding the U.N. pay attention to gender-based violence and suppressed women’s rights. Ni Una Menos also announced the participation of its Latin American coalition.
The petition declares:
To support our demands, we claim joint strike and protest action on March 8th, 2017, in Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Ecuador, Honduras, Germany, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Poland, Russia, Salvador, Scotland, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey, Urugway – and more to come. We are non-partisan, grassroots movement, supported by women’s rights’ organizations and women themselves, operating jointly as International Women’s Strike group.
In the U.S., feminists are wholeheartedly embracing the cross nation call for solidarity. One of the largest U.S. groups to sign-on, the Women’s March on Washington, called for “A Day Without A Woman” and numerous groups in the U.S. began organizing involvement, many of whom have called for strikes on International Women’s Day for years.
In early February, Angela Davis and a group of feminists explained the importance of connecting women in the U.S. to the international feminist movement. “The kind of feminism we seek is already emerging internationally,” Davis said, “in struggles across the globe.”
Understanding the history and global narrative behind the women’s strike is important, says Margaret Prescod, a Los Angeles strike organizer who hosts a Pacifica Radio show focusing on women and communities of color. In Los Angeles, where Prescod helped organize Southern California’s participation by coordinating with women from dozens of countries via phone conferences, Ms. plans to attend two rallies hosted by dozens of supporting organizations.
Women who cannot strike are not forgotten in the movement. In the U.S., organizers acknowledge that not everyone can strike. Women who cannot are being encouraged to wear red, host their own one minute strike at work or make noise at 6 p.m. Organizers also expect a massive social media presence (#8M, #WomensStrike, #ADayWithoutAWoman) as women post images of themselves striking, rallying and wearing red or black.
Michele Sleighel is your neighborhood feminist homegirl. She’s very proud of her El Paso roots.