Call for an International Women’s General Strike on March 8, 2012
by Mimi Yahn, ©2012
Across the globe, International Women’s Day will be commemorated with mass marches, rallies and celebrations. In the U.S., women will be marking it by shutting down banks, corporations and other actions to highlight the economic disparities between women and men and the economic hit that women have endured over the past several years. Across the globe, women have borne the brunt of the economic disaster.
In the past several months, the assaults against women have escalated, our rights are being eliminated. If we are to be out on the streets on March 8th demanding justice, the power of our outrage and determination will be magnified a hundred-fold by taking action as a united international women’s general strike.
If you’ve not had enough, consider this:
Women go through everything that men go through — hunger, poverty, injustices, torture, imprisonment, racist colonialism, etc. — but in addition, they are subjected to a whole other set of injustices, not only because they create life and therefore have an additional set of basic human needs, but also as a direct result of their second-class, subjugated status across the globe.
In the U.S.:
<>More women than men were targeted for subprime loans and so more women than men lost their homes.
<>Women already earn on average two-thirds of what men earn, so every financial setback impacts them more severely.
<>More women than men have no health insurance, and so more women than men are forced into bankruptcy due to a medical catastrophe.
<>Over the past several months, dozens of bills have been introduced in states across the country that will restrict or outlaw women’s access to contraception, abortion and related health care.
<>Both political parties are fighting for power on the bodies of women in the belief that whichever party can eliminate the most rights for women wins.
<>In Occupy encampments across the country, women are being sexually assaulted, harassed and terrorized into silence; those speaking up are labeled divisive, crazy, hysterical and delusional.
<>Popular culture continues to demonize, brutalize and marginalize women. Rapper Too $hort recently released a video showing young men how to sexually assault teenage girls; ABC-TV is ignoring public outcry and going ahead with airing their new show, “Good Christian Bitches”; sales for video games that give extra points for stalking, raping and murdering women and girls continue to climb, and nearly every crime drama on television features women and girls being stalked, raped, beaten, tortured, mutilated, and murdered every single night.
Across the globe:
<>Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, yet earn only 10% of the world’s income.
<>Women and girls make up 51% of the world’s population, but are 70% of the world’s poor.
<>Women produce more than 70% of the world’s food, yet own less than 2% of the world’s land.
<>Women are usually the primary caretakers of children and elderly parents which means they are financially responsible for more people on less money.
<>Women are far less likely to get credit, and when they do, they receive less than men.
<>Women make up two-thirds of the estimated 876 million adults worldwide who cannot read or write; and girls make up two-thirds of 77 million children not attending school. As the economic crisis deepens, it is the girl children who are being pulled from school, further entrenching their second-class status as dependent, impoverished, illiterate servants of men.
<>Men are the first to receive aid, whether in the form of food, loans, grants or education. In refugee camps, women & girls suffer malnutrition and starve to death at much greater levels than men, boys and male-headed families.
<>Throughout the Global South, the neocolonial economies were made deeply dependent on export industries like electronics, textile and clothing manufacture, food processing, and outsourced service-sector jobs. In all cases, women made up anywhere from 60% to 90% of these low-wage, no-benefit, insecure jobs because women are the primary “flexible” labor source across the globe: Since women have fewer political, human and legal rights than men in nearly every nation, they are viewed by international capital as the ideal cheap, disposable worker.
<>After the economic crisis, millions of women were fired from export-dependent jobs throughout the Global South, as the sweatshops, farms and factories shut down. Millions of destitute, desperate women have been forced into prostitution in order to feed their families.
We are not not a special interest group, we are half the world. Our society’s current patriarchal model of subjugation and exploitation influences every aspect of life on our planet and it excludes women at all levels: from decision-making and governing, from negotiating peace and ending wars, from organizing movements, from long-term economic, social, and environmental planning, even from sharing in life’s bounties.
We are the working class of the working class, the 99% of the 99%. And in virtually every nation across the globe, we have no equal status as citizens or even human beings. We are hunted and murdered like animals, we are bought and sold like property, we are silenced and erased from history and public life. We have no choice but to stand up for our rights and our lives. And men have no choice but to support us as allies if they ever want a world free of brutal injustice.
If you’re still not sure if you want to strike, then do it for the millions of women who cannot. Do it for the women who are struggling to feed their families; for the women who earn one-half to three-quarters of what men earn; for the women who became homeless in order to escape brutal beatings; who have been denied health care, reproductive care, contraception or abortion; for the women who cannot vote, cannot drive, cannot own property, cannot be seen in public without a man; for the women who have been beaten, tortured, raped, and sexually degraded; do it for the girls whose genitals have been mutilated and destroyed; for the women who are beaten by husbands, boyfriends, fathers and brothers; for the women who were been beaten into believing they were crazy, hysterical, neurotic; for the women who’ve been denied medical insurance because domestic violence is a pre-existing condition; for the women imprisoned in rape camps in war zones; for the women and girls who’ve been sold into sexual and domestic slavery; for the women whose legal and civil rights have been eliminated; for the women who have yet to gain legal and civil rights; and do it for the women and girls who are no longer with us because of dowry murders, acid attacks, honor killings, domestic violence, and the dozens of gender hate crimes perpetrated every day.
Do it for the women of Juarez, Tahrir Square, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Rwanda, the Congo, King County, Montreal, Suffolk County and everywhere else women and girls have been targeted and murdered for the sole “crime” of their gender.
Do it for our daughters whose future must not be the same.
We strike for them.