International Women’s Day Set To See Thousands Of Women Go On Strike Across The UK

Thousands of women are set to strike on Thursday for International Women’s Day after a tumultuous year for gender politics.

Around 7,000 people have pledged to go on strike, with 2,000 protestors due to meet in central London at 1pm. The UK will be one of 56 countries to take part in the walkout. 

The organisers say the day of action will be a clear show of solidarity with women from all walks of life, calling it “feminism for those millions of women at the bottom”. 

This International Women’s Day carries added weight following a momentous year for women’s rights, which saw the staggering rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. 

Both have gained global support, with millions of women around the world sharing their experiences of sexual harassment. 

The hashtag “me too” was first used by activist Tarana Burke in October last year has since been posted online millions of times, and has trended in an estimated 85 countries including the US, India and Pakistan.

In the UK, the gender pay gap has been a dominant issue since the explosive resignation of the BBC’s China editor Carrie Gracie, who quit her post in protest after she discovered she was being paid less that her male colleagues in equivalent roles. 

According to the ONS, the mean gender pay gap in the UK is currently at 14.1%, and has been stuck at the same level for three years. 

It is also the 100th anniversary of the act of parliament which gave some women the vote.

One of the strike organisers, Noshin Salari Rad, told HuffPost UK the event would be inclusive and would welcome “trans women, women of colour, indigenous women, working class women, disabled women, migrants and sex workers.”

The strike organisers have stressed that while movements such as #MeToo have been extremely popular, they did not mean that “women’s political and economic situation has improved”.

Helen Hester, from the University of West London, said: “The fight is far from over for the millions at the bottom.

“If women are to gain an equal place in the world, the fight against sexual harassment and abuse must be allied with a struggle against an economic system which maintains a gender pay gap, mandates a gendered division of labour, and all too often sees women as a reserve army of labour to draw upon and drop as needed.”

The day will see women strike from all the work they do. This could be in offices, factories, care work or unpaid domestic work. 

Iida Käyhkö, another organiser of the strike said: “We are sick of ‘telling our stories’ and being told to ‘lean in’ when nothing changes in response.

“We are instead taking action – action against our exploitation under capitalism, where the domestic and emotional work we do for little or no pay is made invisible, while austerity measures force us into a more and more vulnerable position.

“This is feminism for the 99%.”

A number of organisations are supporting the strike, including  Sisters Uncut East London, Women’s Strike Assembly, London Latinxs Action for Trans Health and Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union.