After huge strikes and protests in Spain, the message on the ground is to stay in the streets
Thursday’s 24-hour general strike in Spain – called by 10 trades unions across the country against gender inequality, discrimination and harassment – saw close to six million participating, with trains cancelled, traffic queued, shops closed, and demonstrations taking place in every town and city. Self-organisation has risen in Catalonia in the wake of the independence movement, and many women are coming newly to the struggle.
The 8th March has been a historic day for the women’s movement in Spain. We all became activists to show the world that ‘if the women stop, everything stops’, in a strike of consumption, labour, care and study.
On International Women’s Day 2018 we took to the street to assert our rights, our ownership over our bodies and our struggle against inequality and oppression, and we intend to stay there.
From early in the morning we started blocking the traffic in strategic points of the cities and train stations: big streets and avenues were our objective. With megaphones in hand and a lot of things to say to the concerned drivers who couldn’t arrive to their workplaces we started our day of struggle.
Our chants? “Sorry for the inconvenience, we’re being murdered” accompanied by others such as “Not one more” or “No attack without response”. The fight against the gender-based violence has been one of the big reasons for the day.
But the actions above were just the beginning – after that throughout the day we were occupying the squares, the universities, the workplaces and market to inform about the reasons for the strike and the big demonstrations taking place in the evening.
Pickets were everywhere from early in the morning to lunchtime. At the end of the day the labour strike was a big success with near to 6 million of workers supporting either the 2-hour or the 24-hour strike.
For lunch, the neighbourhoods were organized to provide free food to all the women that were on the street supporting the strike.
And then the path to the demonstrations began. The streets were full of women walking towards them, picking up the companions along the way.
Millions of people from all over the Catalonian territory had to decide in *which* demonstration participate. In Tarragona, the organisers had to change the route of the march because of the huge number of people arriving. In the cities of Girona and Lleida more than 8,000 people participated in each local demonstration.
In Barcelona it was near to 700,000 people.
A historic number for a feminist demonstration which is not far off the 3rd October 2017 demonstration of 2017 (responding to the police brutality of the 1st October independence referendum). Since that time self-organisation has been on the rise in Catalonia.
Every neighbourhood has organised their day of struggle through the women’s committees for the strike. Some of them are from long-time feminist collectives, but a lot of them have been born this year with this specific objective. Just in Barcelona, more than two hundred women have been meeting every two weeks to discuss the basis and the organisation of the strike.
The assemblies have been the first time in the women’s movement for many who then on Thursday organised the strike and the protests in Catalonia.
We are here, and we’ll stay on the streets.