We will strike and we will win!

Thousands of people gathered in front of the Bank of England for the Women’s Strike on International Women’s Day 2019.

Protesters wear red at the Women’s Strike, photo by Steve Eason

On Friday night, thousands of people marched through the streets of London as part of the International Women’s Strike. Demos were organised across the country: in Brighton, Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Leeds. In London, after rallying outside the Bank of England, we marched all the way to Leicester Square with music blaring, flares held high and our voices raised.

At the rally, speakers addressed the crowd and articulated an uncompromising and internationalist feminist politics. Speakers highlighted the necessity of feminist anti-fascism in the face of a resurgent hard right across the world; the refusal to allow imperialism and colonialism to be presented as ‘feminist’; the rejection of transphobia.

Latin American women at the Women’s Strike, photo by Steve Eason

The power of feminist solidarity was foregrounded at every turn. We heard about the gendered impact of austerity, migrant solidarity, the Arab Spring, Palestine, trans women incarcerated in men’s prisons, and heard from Latin American workers from United Voices of the World. State violence, the far right, imperialism and borders were identified as feminist issues, alongside and related to gendered violence.

Photo by Steve Eason

On the route, protesters chanted ‘No borders – no nations – no racist deportations’, ‘Whose streets? Our streets!’ and ‘La lucha será feminista o no será’ (the struggle will be feminist or it won’t happen). In Soho, we heard from sex workers about the demand for the decriminalisation of sex work. The organisers of the demo had refused to collaborate with the cops and the demo marched without being impeded by any police presence.

We are in a moment where insurgent mass feminist movements are happening across the world, from Argentina to Ireland, from Spain to Turkey. By comparison, Britain is still a few steps behind in terms of scale. There is a striking disconnect in Britain between the trans-exclusionary and bourgeois forms of ‘feminism’ that dominate in the media and the political class, versus the assertive and internationalist politics of solidarity that the Women’s Strike captured on Friday. After a year in which we’ve seen the #MeToo moment and explicitly feminist anti-fascist organising take off in London, a militant and mass-based feminism seems that much closer.

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