On Tuesday March 8th, for the 6th Global Women’s Strike, in San Francisco, we are protesting the criminalization of survival. With welfare cuts and increasingly repressive laws, more and more people are finding themselves on the wrong side of the law, just for trying to make ends meet. Most women in prison are there for non-violent offences and crimes of poverty. 85% of women prisoners are mothers, most lose custody of their children so, imprisoning women destroys families.
Speakers will condemn the rape, abuse and other torture in jails and prisons; prison sweat shop labor; unfair trials, the death penalty and uncaring lawyers… as well as the use of “nuisance” laws to arrest sex workers, homeless people, youth, and others “out on the streets‚” especially people of color, and the constant ticketing and fines with no recourse to justice. We are demanding recognition for the justice work mothers, sisters, daughters, partners must do. We will also be pressing for implementation of the City of San Francisco resolution prioritizing the protection of sex workers over prosecution. Last GWS in San Francisco, we rallied outside the Bechtel corporation, the site of our weekly community speak-out, to expose Bechtel making money from war and to celebrate the defeat of their efforts to privatize water and charge extortionate rates for it.
We will be joining women in over 60 countries who on every International Women’s Day since 2000, have taken action to demand together that society “Invest in Caring Not Killing,” and that the money spent on war is used instead on what our communities need. The Strike has grown stronger in these five years, especially in countries of the global South, the so-called Third World. Working locally and across national borders with others in struggle for justice is a strength to us all.
Being against war and ending poverty are two sides of the same coin. In January, the tsunami, (the huge waves in Asia) killed almost 300,000 people. Tragic as this was, every day thousands of people die from hunger, disease, environmental destruction and war—all man-made disasters caused by the rule of money, greed and profit: the market. Governments and the big business they protect talk about ending poverty but they never even mention giving us the money we need.
Poverty and war are profitable for business, so it’s against their interest to stop either. It is up to us, beginning with women—the carers who struggle every day to keep life going, working the hardest for least—to change things and save lives. The Global Women’s Strike is our way of pressing for this change.
We are not asking for a hand out, but demanding what we have earned: A Living Wage for All our Work. Those of us who are homeless, or under threat of homelessness also work. Survival work is very hard when you are trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents. Those of us in a job for pay are also entitled to equal pay, women and men, in whatever country: Pay Equity in the Global Market.
The Strike always aims to bring women (and men) together across many divisions. It begins with those of us who are invisible as workers: mothers and other caregivers; grassroots activists; those struggling on disability benefits, welfare, and social security; homeless people; immigrants with or without papers; domestic and homecare workers; sex workers; prisoners and ex-prisoners; refuseniks; students; rape survivors and others working for justice, whatever our race, nationality, religion, age, sexual choice.
Men’s support and
Payday, a multiracial network of men, pulls together men’s participation in the GWS. In addition to supporting Women’s Strike actions, they have also organized with women and men who refuse to go into to military or to go to war; refuse to be torturers, rapists or killers. The “poverty draft”—which forces thousands of people (mainly people of color and immigrants) to join the U.S. military in order to get money and benefits they can’t get someplace else—makes it possible for the U.S. to wage “endless war.” Those refusing the military are a central part of the movement to end war and poverty.
Payday will be premiering its film “Refusing to Kill.” (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.refusingtokill.net)
There is a “peaceful and democratic” revolution going on in Venezuela, they call it a Bolivarian Revolution. Also the people of Haiti— which was the first Black Republic after the slaves rose up and beat the French who were in charge of that island nation—are now fighting again to oppose a U.S. invasion and occupation. Both of these struggles are largely woman-led, although that is often not mentioned and are important points of power for the Strike. The Strike will be launching its third film on Venezuela*—the experience they are making shows that what the grassroots wants and is demanding everywhere is possible to win.
Many of us are shocked and upset that Bush and his murderous team are in charge of the largest military machine in the world for four more years. But as Joe Hill, a great working class fighter, said when he was framed for murder by the U.S. police and got the death sentence, ‘Don’t mourn. Organize!’
Demands of the Global Women’s Strike:
- Payment for all caring work—in wages, pensions, land & other resources. What is more valuable than raising children and caring for others? Invest in life and welfare, not military budgets or prisons
- Pay equity for all, women and men, in the global market.
- Food security for breastfeeding mothers, paid maternity leave and maternity breaks. Stop penalizing us for being women.
- Don’t pay “Third World debt.” We owe nothing—they owe us.
- Accessible clean water, healthcare, housing, transport, literacy.
- Non-polluting energy and technology which shortens the hours we work. We all need cookers, ‘fridges, washing machines, computers, and time off!
- Protection and asylum from all violence and persecution, including by family members and people in positions of authority.
- Freedom of movement. Capital travels freely, why not people?
For more information:
SF Crossroads Women’s Center
PO Box 14512, San Francisco, CA 94114