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On International Women's Day, Women Across Spain Stop All Work in 'Feminist Strike'

"If we stop, the world stops."

Women in Spain staged a nationwide walkout on Thursday to mark International Women's Day, abandoning all paid and unpaid work and bringing mass transit and other systems to a grinding halt. (Photo: @TheLocalSpain/Twitter)

With International Women's Day events and protests planned around the world, Spanish women took the bold step on Thursday of staging a nationwide "Feminist Strike" under the rallying call, "If we stop, the world stops." 

"We call for rebellion and a struggle against the alliance of the patriarchy and capitalism that wants us to be obedient, submissive and quiet."—March 8 Commission

"It is not our aim to organize a "classic" workers strike but to go beyond this format: our plan is to paralyze all the different invisible tasks and activities that women usually do, in all different levels and places," reads the manifesto of the March 8 Commission, which organized the action. 

Marches are being held in 200 cities and towns in Spain, with organizers urging women to stop all paid and unpaid work including domestic chores and to avoid spending money.

The historic walkout is meant to call attention to Spain's persistent gender wage gap, domestic violence, and sex discrimination in the workplace—while also offering a stark view of the contributions of women.

 
   

"Today we call for a society free of sexist oppression, exploitation and violence," said the March 8 Commission. "We call for rebellion and a struggle against the alliance of the patriarchy and capitalism that wants us to be obedient, submissive and quiet. We do not accept worse working conditions, nor being paid less than men for the same work."

Hundreds of trains were canceled across the country on Thursday as a result of the strike, and Madrid's subway service came to a grinding halt.

The mayors of Madrid and Barcelona both spoke out in support of the protest, and 82 percent of Spaniards told El Pais this week that they saw valid reasons for the strike. 

"As people in public positions, we have the duty to mobilize on behalf of those who can't go on strike," said Ada Colau, Barcelona's mayor. "This is the century of women and of feminism; we've raised our voices and we won't stop. No more violence, discrimination, or pay gap!"

Other protests were planned in countries around the world. Hundreds of women wore pink and purple at a demonstration against authoritarian President Rodrigo Duterte, with protesters handing roses to the mothers, widows, and sisters of those killed in Duterte's war on drugs. 

Hundreds of South Koreans rallied in Seoul, with many carrying #MeToo signs to highlight the global anti-sex discrimination movement that took off there recently.

And in France, the newspaper Liberation raised its price for the day by 50 cents—for men only—to highlight the wage gap.

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