International Women’s Day: We Fight Back
March 8 celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD). This important international holiday originates in the struggles of working women in the U.S. Now is a pivotal time in the history of the fight for women’s liberation. At this moment women are finding their voices, their strength, and solidarity in numbers.
There have been attacks on women’s equality on many fronts
Attacks ranged from the Trump administration’s revoking the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act, which ensured all federal contractors had to report safety violations (including assaults and discrimination), to the Justice department scrapping 25 guiding documents for the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The past summer, the military banned transgender soldiers from joining. While everyone must actively discourage anyone from joining the imperialist war machine, banning transgender people will only encourage further discrimination and violence against them.
The attacks on women extended to the Justice Department ruling that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn’t cover sexual orientation, putting thousands of queer people at a further disadvantage and open to harassment.
And in a move feared by many, the Trump administration passed a bill that effectively did away with provision of the Title X Family Planning program, which ensured access for low-income people to access birth control, abortions and cancer screenings.
These attacks on women are also taking place internationally. One example of many is the Philippines, where those who struggle for liberation, the women of the New People’s Army, are facing sexualized and gendered violence as the U.S.-backed president, Rodrigo Duterte, has called for their murder.
Women have shown that attacks on us will not be pass without a fight
This is very clear in the #MeToo movement. The movement was started over a decade ago by Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist, to contextualize the pervasiveness of sexual assault. It was revived in late 2017 with a tweet by Alyssa Milano that asked women to share their experiences to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
Since then, thousands upon thousands of messages and posts have been shared by people recounting their harrowing experiences, along with the hashtag #MeToo. This led to the first major wave of sexual predators being called out and removed from authority. From Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Louis CK to Brett Ratner and James Franco, these men have finally had to answer for their disgusting crimes and behaviors
The bold action by the teachers, largely women, of West Virginia circles us back to the origins of Women’s Day itself, when working women walked the strike lines to demand decent pay and working conditions in a sector that is devalued and viewed as inferior work.
On International Women’s Day we rise to honor our heroes, the women who have led, struggled and sacrificed for their communities.
Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, murdered because she refused to stand back as neo-Nazis marched into the city.
Erica Garner, a prominent and powerful Black Lives Matter activist in New York City who passed away this year.
Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old whose slap was seen around the world. Tamimi is a symbol of the Palestinian resistance – she called renewed attention to the conditions under Israeli occupation and the hundreds of children currently imprisoned.
Rasmea Odeh, a prominent Palestinian-American organizer, who powered through political repression to continue organizing in Jordan.
We rise for the hundreds of thousands who continue to march for immigration rights, against islamophobia, for workers’ rights, and who are keeping the streets alive with marching and chants.
On International Women’s Day we not only commemorate the contributions of the past and present. As we battle each and every abuse and manifestation of oppression, we look forward to the day that our class holds within our hands the power to remake society. One day we will have the opportunity to remake society in the image of liberation.
It is said, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” This past year has been marked with these weeks. Yet, with each of these weeks, the strength of the oppressed has only grown and their resilience only more resolute. For the next year, any blow dealt by the Trump administration and the ‘alt-right’ cronies will be met with loud and powerful resistance. History is in the favor of the people, and the people alone. We will fight back, and will win.