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Students protest

Students protest in the streets during International Women's Day on March 8, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

'If We Stop, the World Stops!': Hundreds of Thousands of Spanish Women Take to Streets for Feminist Strike

The strike's ultimate goal, organizers say, is "subverting the world order and the pervading hetero-patriarchal, racist, and neoliberal rhetoric."

Hundreds of thousands of people across Spain marked International Women's Day on Friday with a "feminist strike."

The strike, in its second consecutive year, demanded stronger efforts to combat gender-based discrimination, pay gaps, and violence. Last year's strike drew global attention as more than 5 million women took to Spain's streets to shine a light on such issues.

On Friday, unions, feminist groups, and left-wing political parties planned 1,400 marches and rallies in Madrid, Barcelona, and cities throughout the country, guided by the slogan, "If we stop, the world stops."

The ultimate goal of the strike is "subverting the world order and the pervading hetero-patriarchal, racist, and neoliberal rhetoric," declares a document from the Comisión 8M (March 8 Commission), which organized many of Friday's events.

The 29-page manifesto, according to the Spanish newspaper El País,

also calls for a new kind of education that excludes "stereotypes about toxic-romantic love," and demands "feminist training" for judges, police officers and social workers.

Participants, supporters, and journalists posted updates on social media using the hashtags #HuelgaFeminista2019 or #HuelgaFeminista8M:

In response to the strike, El País reported:

The Socialist Party (PSOE) government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said it will "reduce its institutional activity" to just the regular Friday Cabinet meeting. Several ministers are expected to attend the Madrid march this evening to show support for "a society that looks like it is going to mobilize widely," in the words of Deputy Prime Minister and Equality Minister Carmen Calvo.

"It's not surprising that feminist labor activists in Spain—a country with a long history of mass labor actions, robust leftist political tradition, and strong anarcho-syndicalist unions—managed to successfully engineer a general strike of such magnitude," Kim Kelly wrote for Splinter, "but those watching from this side of the ocean surely can't help but feel a pang of jealousy."

However, as a spokesperson from the National Confederation of Labour (CNT)—one of the unions organizing the strike—told Kelly, the issues and related demands for progress that are driving Friday events aren't confined to Spain or women.

"Our objective is to project and coordinate internationally the union sections to spread the struggle across the world; if we want to abolish capitalism, we need to spread our fights worldwide," the spokesperson said.

And, as Kelly pointed out, unlike some of the feminist organizers, CNT also called on men to participate "as a tool to paralyze the system."

"We believe that a revolution is happening, that feminism goes beyond the women's struggle," the spokesperson said. "It is a class struggle that wants to support racialized women and transgender [people], women around the world, and to put an end to patriarchy and the precariousness of all class workers."


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