In the wake of the intensifying war against women internationally and the growing resistance to it, there is a call for an international women’s strike on International Women’s Day, 8 March. Inspired by the women’s strikes in Iceland and then in Poland last autumn in response to the attempts to further criminalise abortion, women in Argentina who are part of the #NiUnaMenos (Not one less) protests against femicide launched a call for an international strike to protest against all violence against women – including economic violence.
The magnificent women’s protests against Trump gave further impetus with the call being taken up in the US and more than 30 countries across the globe.
As labour movement activists in Britain, we are organising to celebrate 8 March 2017 in diverse ways, including participating in the 10th Million Women Rise march on 11 March. Some of us will participate in actions organised by Global Women’s Strike in London. We pledge to argue within our unions, women’s groups and wherever we are active to send messages of support to the network organising the international women’s strike and to build for future actions.
Leanne Wood AM Leader of Plaid Cymru and Assembly Member for the Rhondda
Hannah Bargawi Department of economics, SOAS, University of London
Eileen Best Unison, Manchester
Marian Brain CWU, Birmingham
Monique Buchli Islington Unite Community, London Socialist Film Co-op
Kat Burdon Manley Unison
Justine Canady UCLU Gender and Feminism Society, NCAFC Women and Non-Binary Rep
Caroline Carney Disability activist, West London
Cristina Chimisso The Open University
Jane Connor Walthamstow Central LP, Greenwich Unison
Terry Conway Islington Unite Community (Vice chair) Islington North CLP
Amy Cousens Swan (socialist women and nonbinary) group, Leeds
Ruth Clarke Women’s Officer, Islington North CLP
Hazel Croft Unison
Merry Cross Berkshire DPAC
Serafina Cuomo Birkbeck College, University of London
Felicity Dowling, Left Unity
Eve Drayton Hill
Sara Farris Goldsmiths, University of London
Eleanor Firman East London Unite Community
Tessa van Gelderen Brent Central CLP, GMB
Winmarie Greenland, Left Unity
Sandra Holliday Secretary WLG/Momentum Rhondda Cynon Taff
Yemi Hailemariam Islington Unite Community
Jo Halliday Islington South & Finsbury CLP
Elaine Harrison Newcastle Unite Community
Louise Harrison Doncaster womens lives matter campaigner
Rosamine Hayeem Harrow East Labour party branch
Elise Hendricks Screaming Violets
Elaine Heffernan UCU Exec elect
Jade Hope Sheffield University, Left Unity
Chris Hurley West London Left Unity
Bev Keenan Manchester Unite Community
Jane Kelly Socialist Resistance
Jenny Kidman Vice chair, East London Unite Community
Lucy Lepchani Greenham Women are Everywhere
Alison Lord UCU
Kate MacKenzie Unison, feminist and socialist
Lesley Mahmood Liverpool anti-cuts activist, Left Unity
Amina Mangera SE London Unite Community
Sarah Mayo Screaming Violets
Sharon McCourt Birmingham Left Unity
Sal Morawetz GMB delegate to Nottingham East LP
Mambenga Mwakana East London Unite Community
Julie Morrow NUT, RISE, Left Unity
Diana Neslen Labour Party, Unison, retired
Prof Ozlem Onaran Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre, University of Greenwich
Sarah Parker Haringey Left Unity
Susan Pashkoff East London Unite Community (Acting Chair), Left Unity
Liz Peretz Oxford West and Abingdon CLP, Oxford Momentum
Paula Peters DPAC Activist Unite Community South East London Equalities officer
Romayne Phoenix Ecosocialist Network
Frances Pilling Portsmouth Unite Community
Julia Poynter East London Unite Community, Waltham Forest Trades council rep
Ann Pridmore Being the Boss
Jenny Russell PCS (ARMS)
Estella Schmid Peace in Kurdistan – Women Alliance for Kurdistan, Iraq and Syria
Ruth Steigman Axe the Housing Act
Sara Stevano Department of economics, Soas University of London
Pam Stevens Chair Left Unity Wales
Inbar Tamari President Hackney NUT, Walthamstow CLP
Daniela Tavasci QMUL
Pip Tindall Brighton Benefits Campaign, Enough is Enough, Left Unity
Bianca Todd Ron Todd Foundation
Alison Treacher Unite Community Social Action branch, Greater Manchester, Left Unity
Pilgrim Tucker Equalities officer Unite Community Lambeth and Southwark branch
Tina Yemm NUT
Yuliya Yurechenko International business and economics department, University of Greenwich
Maggie Zolobajluk Islington Unite Community equalities officer
• On a day when women come together, and the international community recognises the contributions of women to society, it has to be noted that while women have to work harder to get noticed and appreciated, Muslim women have to work four to six times as hard despite sometimes being more qualified. Employers often make incorrect assumptions about how dedicated an employee a Muslim woman will be, based on how she dresses. So some Muslim women choose to cover their hair and dress modestly; some people like to cover their elbows and knees. That doesn’t mean they don’t have something worth saying and it certainly doesn’t mean they don’t contribute as much to humanity. Muslim women have contributed to society for over 1,500 years, selflessly, quietly, and with dedication, because a lot of them believe in their religion’s teaching to serve humanity in any way they can.
Take the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association, a highly organised auxiliary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and who very much practice what they preach – love for all, hatred for none. Last year alone, women from the Carshalton, Wallington and Sutton branches of the AMWA UK organised dozens of school talks, held interfaith diversity events, delivered hampers to women’s refuges, visited local care homes, took part in Holocaust Memorial Day, did extensive fundraising and provided tours of the Baitul Futuh mosque - the largest mosque in Britain. The AMWA wish to portray the peaceful, tolerant and fair side of Islam while challenging bias and inequality, forging women’s advancement, celebrating women’s achievement and championing women’s education. They link these aims to the values of their religion which emphasises education for all, achieving high morality, promoting unity and ensuring the next generation is instilled with these values.
So on a day when we recognise the importance of women the world over, let’s lift the Muslim women in our communities in particular. Not only do they have to combat the hurdle of their gender but they are also now forced to combat hate-filled stones aimed at their religion.
• In William Morris’s News From Nowhere (Letters, 2 March) everyone is free to do the work they feel suits them best. The women who serve breakfast at the Hammersmith guest house in the story do not just cook and clear up: they run the place as a collective. Later, we encounter women and men haymaking, and a female stonemason who is “our best carver”. Most children aged four, boys and girls, can read, but book-learning does not interest Nowherians much: they prefer practical knowledge. Everyone speaks at least one other language, and women know as much science and natural history as men.
As an upper-middle-class Victorian, Morris was no better or worse than most of his contemporaries. He opposed “mothers of families” (ie not all women) working in factories – “a most abominable custom” – but also abhorred factories, preferring workshops. He addressed his employees and duchesses in the same manner – to the duchesses’ dismay – and aristocratic ladies calling unannounced at the Morrises’ Kelmscott Manor were appalled by the Morris daughters’ lack of corsets or coiffure. May Morris, the younger daughter, herself a noted embroiderer, ran Morris & Co for over four decades after her father’s death.
Morris believed that under capitalism, all work had been devalued by commerce and the profit motive, but what he perhaps did not emphasise enough is that this applies even more to women’s work than men’s. But in the socialism of “Nowhere” (Morris called it “Communism”) this is not the case.
Dr Patrick O’Sullivan
Former editor, Journal of William Morris Studies
• I’m glad that the new head of sport is a woman (BBC’s gameplan: why coverage of women’s football is a core strategy, 6 March), and that she intends to cover more women’s sport. However, on Women’s Strike Day, and in the interests of equality, I urge all other women to join me in a continuing strike: to refuse to watch, read, or listen to men-only sport until we have equal coverage in the media. Currently we only have 3%, which is shameful. Let’s boycott men’s sport until we have fair play.
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