What will Women's Day be like this year?
Feminist demonstrations return to the streets while strike action is only backed by one union
The second International Women's Day since the pandemic began will focus this year on denouncing how the coronavirus crisis has aggravated job insecurity, violence against women and discrimination against migrant women. The improvement of epidemiological data and the end of restrictions has allowed Catalonia's 8-M Assembly to leave behind the format of static rallies and instead bring back marches through the centre of Barcelona.
Under the slogan "Against precariousness, borders and violence. Feminists are here" thousands of women are expected to take to the streets, at a time when the end of the covid health crisis is showing that they are the ones who are having the hardest time during the recovery. Women suffer more intensely the consequences of a precarious labour market that condemns them to more temporary or part-time contracts –often unwanted– and to do jobs which receive less economic and social recognition, despite the fact that the pandemic has shown that the care and service sector are essential for a properly functioning society.
But while the risk of suffering wage discrimination compared to men is high – the wage gap is 20% – it is even higher for women of foreign origin, who are forced to work without a contract or to take positions well below their qualifications because it is often not easy for them to have their qualifications validated. "Migrant women are the ones who are in the most precarious market," Ana Rodet, from the Assembly's communication commission, denounces. At this point she points out how, in addition, Western feminism, represented by white women, not only forgets migrant women, but has traditionally resorted to this most vulnerable group in order to "hand them the jobs they don't want to do".
In the Assembly's manifesto, feminists denounce the lack of public policies to respond to poverty and precariousness, and point out the failure in the implementation of the Generalitat's citizen minimum income and the Spanish government's minimum living income, which proved insufficient and ineffective, partly because of the bureaucratic hurdles to obtain them.
In the feminists' sights is the law on foreigners, the main obstacle for migrants to have a normalised life, since it forces the group to have to live in administrative illegality for the first three years after their arrival, and hinders the process of settling in.
Demonstration in Barcelona
The central event of International Women's Day will begin at 6 pm on Tuesday, in a demonstration that will start at Plaça Universitat in Barcelona and will go along Gran Via to Tetuan, where it will continue to end at Arc de Triomf. Here the unitary manifesto of the Assembly 8-M will be read.
Events around Catalonia
In addition to the demonstration in Barcelona, demonstrations have also been called in other cities: At 7 pm there will be a rally at Plaça Imperial Tàrraco in Tarragona and one in Plaça Barcelona in Tortosa. An hour before, at 6 pm, protests will start at Plaça Ricard Vinyas in Lleida and in Plaça U d'Octubre in Girona.
The 8-M Assembly is also calling for a general strike, but the call only has the support of the CGT, while other unions will only call partial strikes and rallies.
On Monday evening, there will be women-only night walks organised by feminist organisations from all over the country to claim different spaces and the night as safe places for women, aware that the feeling of defencelessness and insecurity is present in streets and buildings which have blind spots. The aim is to highlight the right that women have – in fact, that everyone has - to be able to walk freely without being attacked or feeling vulnerable.