This Saturday marked the third annual Women’s March. Tens of thousands of people descended on cities across the United States.
It was smaller than past years’ marches, but the signs and slogans were often sharper. After a year of sexist abusers becoming judges and #MeToo spreading to workplace strikes, the new feminist movement in the U.S. has seen both challenges and opportunities.
This movement is not only burning across the country. This feminist fire is lighting up the whole world. And our partners are right there in the struggle.
The new moment has driven new conversations in the World March of Women (WMW), a Grassroots International global partner. WMW is an international feminist movement that works to eliminate the root causes of poverty and violence against women and struggles against all forms of inequality and discrimination directed at women and gender non-conforming people. They seek to build a network of women who can name root causes and offer deeper solutions in this growing movement.
The rot is everywhere.
Violence against women and gender non-conforming people remain at epidemic levels.
The #MeToo movement, founded by Tarana Burke, has exposed the rot of sexual harassment and assault across U.S. society. Nearly one in four women has experienced domestic violence; nearly one in six women has experienced sexual assault.
Meanwhile, when women like Cyntoia Brown stand up to this abuse and human trafficking, they face up to 50 years in jail before even a chance at parole. Her harsh sentence, standing alongside the seemingly free pass or light tap on the wrist for abusers, highlights a court system fundamentally skewed toward patriarchy and protecting male power.
The long march of American mass shooters is stitched with the vile threads of domestic violence and misogyny. For example, over the Thanksgiving holiday week last year, a gunman walked into Chicago’s Mercy Hospital, shooting his former fiancee and her coworkers in cold blood. He had a history of harassing female co-workers.
Still, this misogyny is international, and it is systemic. We can see it in the election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. We can see it in the femicides of activists like Berta Caceres in Honduras and masses of women in Mexico (seven murders each day).
Sexism is always mixed with vile racism, militarism and violence against the land. Just as some Women’s Marches in the United States made connections to indigenous struggles here, the World March of Women (WMW) builds on the links between women in every community — from Bangladesh to Palestine.
At the WMW convergence in Basque last fall, Kenyan activists talked about the many brutal femicides there, about women getting disappeared, and about women-led resistance to the systems of patriarchy that threaten women in the home, farm and workplace.
In fact, WMW activists from Africa and the Philippines were denied visas to attend the convergence in Basque, simply because of their origin.
Grassroots feminism is the solution.
Yet resistance and grassroots solutions have been sprouting all this past year.
The year 2018 began with the #MeToo movement bursting across the U.S. and over a million people attending the second Women’s March.
Global resistance thrived under the slogans like “Ni Una Menos” (not one [woman] less) . Approximately 5.4 million Spaniards took part in the Women’s Strike on March 8th. From June to August, over a million Argentinian women flooded their streets to demand the right to an abortion — to end death by unsafe abortions and as a step to end femicides as a whole.
By November, 20,000 Google workers around the world walked out in solidarity with #MeToo. They organized the brief political strike after a company coverup of a former executive’s serial sexual misconduct was exposed.
Though the Women’s March has faced attacks and challenges this year, its third annual march still brought out tens of thousands across the country.
The World March of Women supports all of these street and workplace actions, in their words, “to end the silence.” “Women’s March, Time’s up, #metoo, Ni una menos!, Vivas nos queremos! and the international women’s strike,” they write, “add up to the permanent and inevitable struggles we have been fighting.”
Marching to transform.
Not only do the World March of Women and other Grassroots International partners support these actions. They are also part of this resistance. In Basque, feminists have a tradition of marching whenever they learn of a femicide — as they did during the WMW convergence.
Coming out of their Basque conference, the World March of Women is seeking to make an even greater impact on this new feminist wave.
First, they are planning an international action, as they have every five years since 1996. While still in the early planning stage, the 2020 action will draw feminists around the globe under the slogan “We resist to live; we march to transform.”
Second, the WMW wants to offer deeper political analysis amid the resistance. The group is unapologetic, clear and organized in making connections between patriarchy and militarism, climate change and oppression. It offers analysis how the growing control of governments by right-wing parties full of hatred, racism, misogyny, discrimination and militarism threaten to control our territories: bodies, minds, earth, water, knowledge and livelihoods.
It also seeks to an offer an alternative: a world where women, trans, and gender non-conforming people can live free, without fear of violence. That world will be built by the grassroots, through struggles around the world. And until that world is won, Grassroots International will continue to stand with that struggle, providing support and solidarity.