When we stop, the whole world stops with us!
The International Women’s Day is a day of reclaiming the streets and demanding equal rights. It is a reminder that we still have to fight for half of the world’s population.
On 8 March 2020, women across the world were on strike. Around 2000 feminists marched around central London for hours yesterday, with the central message being ‘When we stop, the whole world stops with us’. There was music, colours, raised fists and numerous smart, thought-provoking slogans aiming for the ultimate goal of equality.
As the call to action mentioned, “We strike for a future free from violence against women. We strike for the future of the planet. We strike for an end to the capitalist exploitation of women’s labour. We strike for an end to racism, homophobia, transphobia and ableism. We strike because women should decide our fate – not our bosses or the state. We strike because we care.”
It was a demonstration for all women, queer and trans, and for all people who face gendered oppression. Acknowledging the fact that oppressions are interlinked, there cannot be a feminist march without anti-racist demands for communities of colour, without ecological demands for immediate action for the planet and without demands for animal rights. “We can no longer separate ecological issues from the conditions in which we work and live. Because it is indigenous communities, communities of colour and people in the Global South who will be hit by the climate crisis the hardest. Because when communities become vulnerable — during conflict, during austerity and during environmental crisis — it is a fact that women will suffer the most”, declared the Women’s Strike Assembly. After all, if it ain’t intersectional, it ain’t feminism.
There were indeed many collectives of immigrants, people of colour, climate justice warriors and sex workers. Latin American groups were of the loudest ones, with the Chilean flag standing high during the whole march and people were singing the feminist protest song ‘El violador en tu camino’ (A rapist in your path) that became a worldwide anthem repeatedly. It was very encouraging to see many male allies, holding signs that stated “You don’t need to be woman to be feminist”, since educating and involving men is a crucial part of creating an inclusive society for everyone, together with raising awareness and empowering women.
When the Women’s March arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice, a ‘Decrim Now’ sign was waiting in front and we heard speeches from the SWARM collective. “We have two decades of evidence from New Zealand that decriminalization works. Prostitution law hand in hand with racism, xenophobia and the war on drugs deprive children of their mothers. Decriminalize sex work, so you can find out who you are dealing with” said one of the members.
Along with the decriminalization of sex work, eliminating gender-based violence, femicides and the gender pay gap are just some of the multiple requests of the feminist movement all year round, not just the 8th March. This is the day when women across the globe strike for all their rights. Women’s rights are human rights and we won’t stop, until we put an end to the global system called patriarchy that “benefits a small group of people and violently destroys the lives, communities and environments of everyone else”.
Marching in the middle of Oxford Street, along with British groups and women from all over the world felt so familiar as if I was in the streets of Athens. What is adorable about feminist and queer demonstrations is that they are safe spaces to advocate for your cause and celebrate. Undoubtedly, the feminist family embraces you and supports you, regardless of your background, in as many ways as possible.
Written by Anastasia Vaitsopoulou
Photos taken by Anastasia Vaitsopoulou