Resist: Women's strike events draw crowds
by Liz Highleyman
The "A Day Without a Woman" actions on International Women's Day drew crowds in cities around the country, while more marches and demonstrations are planned next month.
The Republican plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act – which could result in some 24 million people losing their health coverage – has prompted calls for a March for Health Saturday, April 1.
Activists are organizing a large national march in Washington, D.C., and satellite marches in several cities, including New York, Nashville, and Seattle, according to the http://www.MarchforHealth.org website. In the Bay Area, a march is planned for Santa Rosa and an Oakland march appears to be in the works.
April will be a busy month for coordinated national actions including a Tax March on April 15 to demand that Donald Trump release his tax returns (http://www.TaxMarch.org), a March for Science Saturday, April 22 (MarchforScience.com), and a People's Climate March Saturday, April 29 (http://www.PeoplesClimate.org). Bay Area cities, including San Francisco and Oakland, are planning satellite marches for all three dates.
Women's and gender strikes
International Women's Day events on March 8 were well attended in the Bay Area. To recognize "A Day Without a Woman," women were encouraged to take the day off from paid or unpaid labor and shopping to demonstrate their economic impact. In some cities so many teachers took off work that schools were forced to close. Whether rallying or working, many women wore red to show their solidarity.
In San Francisco around 1,000 people participated in a spirited morning rally outside City Hall, organized in part by women involved in the massive January 21 Women's Marches. Oakland saw an evening Women's Strike rally, also attended by at least 1,000 people, according to various news reports.
Elizabeth Lanyon from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who is also an organizer for the annual San Francisco Dyke March, spoke at the San Francisco rally.
"We will mark today – International Women's Day – by recognizing the essential economic value that women of all backgrounds add to our socioeconomic system, even though women receive lower wages, experience great inequities, and are more vulnerable to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity," Lanyon said. "We are here because we believe that misogyny has no place in our communities, in our workplaces, in our homes, or in our government. And never, ever in our bodies."
Taking a more radical stance, a noon Strike Against Gender at Justin Herman Plaza was followed by a march to the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on Sansome Street to protest Trump's immigration restrictions and recent stepped up enforcement. And on Saturday, March 11 an International Working Women's Day march took place in the Mission.
Both the San Francisco and Oakland events put out calls for participation by sex workers, many of whom bear the brunt of crackdowns on immigration and cuts to services for low-income people, including Republicans' proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood.
"Sex workers and migration are inherently linked because many people – especially LGBT people all over the world – leave home due to stigma" and end up doing sex work as part of the informal economy, sex worker rights advocate Carol Leigh told the Bay Area Reporter. "Now in the era of Trump's Republican administration, women in general are more vulnerable, facing issues of losing health care and losing vital services."