International Women’s Day 2017

The Socialist Party of American organised the first Women’s Day to take place on March 8th, although theirs was a ‘National Women’s Day‘. The idea of an International Women’s Day was adopted by the 1910 International Conference of Socialist Women and in 1911 it was celebrated on March 8th in United States, Switzerland, Denmark, and Austria but in Germany and elsewhere of March 19th. It was not until 1914 it was adopted worldwide. In London on March 8th 1914 the Suffragettes marched from Bow to Trafalgar Square.

Universal female suffrage was the main demand of those first marches, but they also had a whole range of other demands, including labour laws to guarantee women’s rights, free social childcare and education, equal treatment for single mothers, international solidarity and the overthrow of capitalism.

A protest in Parliament Square March 8th – also Budget Day – by Global Women’s Strike in solidarity with the International Women’s Strike (IWS) taking place in 46 countries was firmly in this tradition, and there were contributions from groups supporting women, including the victims of domestic violence, the disabled and the victims of family courts. Later they went on to hold a vigil on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields in solidarity with the farmers of the Southern Peasant Federation of Thailand, many of whom are women.

A short distance down the road, Women Against State Pension Inequality – WASPI – held a rally against the changes in the state pension scheme which are unfair to women born in the 1950s. Although the effects of the The 1995 Pension Action Act which set out the plan to equalise the pension age for men and women were well publicised, little warning was given when the 2011 Pension Act accelerated the process for this and for raising the pension age, and there was too little time even for those women approaching pension age who realised what was happening to make alternative plans.

Later in the day opposite Downing St Fourth Wave London Feminist Activists staged a protest against the unjust, ideologically-driven cuts to public services that are disproportionately felt by women, and also against the way that International Women’s Day despite its socialist roots has been appropriated with the media giving extensive coverage to corporate events concentrating on getting more women in boardrooms and other highly paid jobs.

I ended my day with London Polish Feminists and Global Women’s Strike (again) at St Pancras for an International Women’s Day flash mob at St Pancras International in solidarity with women in 46 countries taking part in the International Women’s Strike. It was a colorful event, and the colours were black and red – clothing, umbrellas, masks and flowers – choreographed by the Polish feminists. After a rehearsal in the station foyer the group went down into the concourse and gave a performance there.

They had apparently requested permission for the event, but when it was refused decided that they would go ahead in any case. Police came to talk with them but didn’t stop it.

More from all of these events – and a rather curious Russian gesture which perhaps reflected a more misogynistic attitude to women:

From Russia With Love
International Women’s Strike
Vigil for Thai Farmers
Death By A Thousand Cuts
WASPI at Parliament


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