| 6.3°C Dublin

We need a radical women's fightback - ladies, it's time to go on strike for our rights

Close

The action echoes that which was performed by women in Poland, who organised an all-out strike last year, in protest at attempts to tighten restrictive abortion laws even further. Photo: Getty Images

The action echoes that which was performed by women in Poland, who organised an all-out strike last year, in protest at attempts to tighten restrictive abortion laws even further. Photo: Getty Images

LightRocket via Getty Images

The action echoes that which was performed by women in Poland, who organised an all-out strike last year, in protest at attempts to tighten restrictive abortion laws even further. Photo: Getty Images

Once a year, March 8 marks International Women's Day. On this day every year our news feeds are awash with inspirational quotes from famous feminists and think pieces by high-profile women. But, really, every day should be International Women's Day.

This year Strike 4 Repeal is a nationwide direct action to make the Government pay attention to growing frustration over lack of reproductive rights, organised by an ad-hoc, non-affiliated group of activists, academics, artists and trade unionists.

The strike is calling on us to take a day off work as annual leave and to wear a black armband or black clothing in protest. For women who do not work, the strike asks them to withdraw emotional and domestic work, like housework or caring duties, roles which are disproportionately performed by women still.

The action echoes that which was performed by women in Poland, who organised an all-out strike last year, in protest at attempts to tighten restrictive abortion laws even further.

Following the strike, politicians agreed to drop attempts to introduce the restrictions.

Women around the world will remove themselves from the economy today too, to protest over not just US President Donald Trump but societal barriers that keep all women from achieving true equality.

Two events are being held: A Day Without a Woman, organised by the Women's March, and the International Women's Strike, a grassroots endeavour founded by a team of activists, feminists, and scholars.

International Women's Day began as a day of rebellion and outlandish demands like equal pay, votes for women and reproductive rights.

But more than a century later, judging by the invitations dropping into my email inbox the past few years, it seemed to have become more about corporate lunches, poetry competitions and praising our valued sponsors.

It had become a sporadic pro-woman event, a short, superficial flash of global interest and excitement, and then it is over until the next year, the next opportunity. Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with this approach, but, after all this time, is this soft guerilla-feminism really all we have?

Talk to any woman for long enough and feminism will come up. You might not call it feminism. You might call it sex, house prices, childcare, getting wolf-whistled at, clothing, relationships or money, but it will come up. After years of effort, an effort that dates back through Mary Robinson, Nell McCafferty, Countess Markievicz, Mary Wollstonecraft and Boudica, we aren't seeing results fast enough.

Maybe it's time for women to stage a strike, walk out of offices and homes, leave men to juggle childcare and the work place, shopping and the school run, for up to a week? This is an example of what a more radical women's fightback might look like.

With assaults on jobs, welfare, childcare, and no right to choose, the time for polite conversation is over. It's time for anger. It's time for daring, direct action, big demands, big dreams. We should consider following the lead of Iceland's women, who staged a major strike in 1975, involving 90pc of the female population, and who now live in the country regularly ranked the best in the world for women.

The women of Ireland are overworked, underpaid and undervalued. The language of our Constitution reflects the fact that we live in a society which implicitly considers a woman's place to be in the home. Women continue to earn 12.6pc less than men and are 18pc more likely to work part-time.

We only make up 30pc of workers in managerial positions. At home we manage the majority of the childcare and housework.

Among couples where both partners work, women spend more than two hours per day extra in unpaid work in the home and even among couples where the woman is the only earner, men, very shockingly, only do as much housework as women.

If we had a union, we'd definitely be taking to the streets to protest.

These are not just women's subjects either, and the campaign for women's equality is not just a women's campaign.

They are people's subjects, and the campaign for equality is a campaign to bring out the best in everyone.

None of us can change the world today or alone, and we need to be looking collectively at positive change. When we march and strike, we place our very bodies at the heart of our civil rights: what we do with them, including how and where we choose to march them, is our choice. We are citizens, and we stand up to be counted when we strike for repeal and when we strike for equal rights.

Irish Independent