8M shows once again the social strength of feminism.

Head of the Barcelona demonstration | Laura Casamitjana.

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STANDARD

8M shows once again the social strength of feminism.

Written by Laura Casamitjana

Feminism once again shows its social muscle in an exhibition of demands and solidarity. 40,000 people gathered at the 8M demonstration in Barcelona, according to the Guardia Urbana.

Over the last decade, the 8M has been taking shape beyond the demonstration, establishing itself as a general strike that crosses the barrier from the workplace to the personal with what is known as the “care strike”. The Assemblea 8M, coordinator of the organisations organising the 8M protest, explains in its manifesto – read at the final act of the protest – that “household and care work, which sustains the world, is undervalued and made invisible by the cisheteropatriarchal, racist, racist, capitalist, cisheteropatriarchal system”. They consider that the search for equality is also about fighting for this type of unpaid, feminised tasks, and for those who suffer persistent discrimination in feminised and precarious sectors: “the system exploits all those who care for life and at the same time makes us invisible and dehumanises us, separating us into carers and cared-for and denying the interdependence of this mutual oppression”, adds the communiqué. This is why organisations such as Sindihogar – an independent trade union of migrant women domestic and care workers – are in charge of the final reading.

A demonstrator shows her banner in the crowd | Laura Casamitjana.

The scope of the greatest possible transversality is something very present in the feminist movement, which is why disability discrimination has had a high visibility with the presence of activist organisations for the rights of people with functional diversity, organised through the bloc of anti-disability feminists who have been at the forefront of the demonstration. Another central struggle this year is anti-militarism. For Dones x Dones, one of the groups taking part in the protest, 8M is “in solidarity with women in countries in conflict who are sustaining life”. The Palestinian claim has been a protagonist both in the march and in the final readings.

The Palestinian cause has been the protagonist of this 8M | Laura Casamitjana.

Care, a central theme

The different waves and currents of feminism have their own particular characteristics and demands – depending on the time and context – but all of them have the same direction: to achieve women’s full rights. Some of them are more visible, others have been gaining relevance along with social awareness. An example of this awareness-raising phenomenon would be care, according to the EU Gender Equality Index, if you are Portuguese you are 30% more likely to do housework or cooking every day, compared to men. If you are Italian, 38% and if you are Spanish, 20%. Similarly, more women take leave of absence or reduced working hours for maternity or care of the elderly, something that gender policies have focused on in recent years. According to the EU’s Gender Equality 2023 report, “the gender gap in care is narrowing not because men are doing more care work, but because women are doing less. While technology and increased female employment may have played a role, technology alone cannot bring about the structural changes needed to go the last mile”.

What is the origin of 8M?

In 1975 the UN formalised International Women’s Day, since then it has been officially commemorated on 8 March. But its history goes back much further, all rooted in social uprisings.

Industrial Revolution, 1857, women workers in a New York textile factory protest because their pay and conditions are precarious compared to men. The demonstration ended with violent intervention by the police. This act lit a fuse that would be taken up again in 1911. Following in the wake of their predecessors, the women of another factory in New York called a strike with a tragic outcome: 129 of them died because the owner of the business set fire to the building. Legend has it that they sewed purple fabrics, and that the smoke that came out was of the same colour, which is why it was adopted as the standard-bearer of the movement.

Outside the American core, revolt was also brewing. In Stuttgart in 1907 a Socialist Women’s Conference led by Clara Zetkin fought for women’s suffrage. A few years later the activist proposed the establishment of a day as a symbol of their struggle, and in 1911, Women’s Day was commemorated for the first time in several cities in Europe.

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EASY

8M shows once again the social strength of feminism.

Written by Laura Casamitjana

Feminism once again shows its social muscle in an exhibition of demands and solidarity. 40,000 people gathered at the 8M demonstration in Barcelona, according to the Guardia Urbana.

Over the last ten years, 8 March has evolved beyond just a demonstration. It is now considered a general strike that goes beyond the workplace and extends to the personal, especially with what they call a “care strike”. The Assemblea 8M, which coordinates the organisations organising the 8 March protest, explains in their manifesto – which they read at the end of the protest – that care and household tasks, which are fundamental to keep the world running, are underestimated and ignored by the system. They believe that, in order to achieve equality, it is also important to fight for these unpaid tasks and for those tasks that are mostly associated with women and that are less valued, especially in sectors where working conditions are precarious. Sindihogar, a trade union formed by migrant women working in domestic and care work, is one of those responsible for the final reading.

A demonstrator shows her banner in the crowd | Laura Casamitjana.

The feminist movement seeks to be inclusive and encompass diverse struggles. For this reason, this year the presence of activist organisations fighting for the rights of people with disabilities, grouped in the bloc of anti-disability feminists who led the demonstration, stood out. Another important cause this year was anti-militarism. Groups such as Dones x Dones expressed their solidarity with women in countries in conflict who are struggling to survive. The Palestinian cause also played a prominent role both in the march and in the final speeches.

The Palestinian cause has been the protagonist of this 8M | Laura Casamitjana.

Care, a central theme

Feminism has different branches and movements, each with its own characteristics and demands, but all aiming towards the same goal: achieving full equal rights for women. Some of these demands are very visible, while others have gained prominence over time as society has become more aware.

An example of this change in awareness can be seen in the area of care. According to an EU study, women in countries such as Portugal are 30% more likely to do housework or cooking on a daily basis compared to men. In Italy, the difference is 38%, and in Spain, 20%. More women also take leave or reduce their working hours due to maternity or caring for the elderly, something that gender equality policies have been working on in recent years.

According to an EU report on gender equality in 2023, “the gender gap in care is narrowing, not because men are taking on more care responsibilities, but because women are doing less. While technology and increased female labour force participation may have helped, technology alone cannot bring about the structural changes needed to achieve full equality”.

What is the origin of 8M?

In 1975, the UN officially established International Women’s Day to be celebrated on 8 March, but its history goes back much further, all originating in social uprisings.

In the Industrial Revolution, in 1857, women working in a textile factory in New York protested their low wages and poor working conditions compared to men. The demonstration ended in violent police intervention. This event ignited a spark that was fanned in 1911, when women in another factory in New York called a strike that had a tragic ending: 129 of them died because the owner of the building set fire to the place. It is said that the women sewed purple fabrics and that the smoke that came out was purple, which led to its adoption as a symbol of the movement.

Outside the United States, there were also revolts. In Stuttgart in 1907, Clara Zetkin led a Conference of Socialist Women fighting for women’s suffrage. A few years later, Zetkin proposed a day as a symbol of their struggle, and in 1911, Women’s Day was first commemorated in several European cities.

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Reading Comprehension Quiz. 8M shows once again the social strength of feminism.

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What transformation has 8 March undergone in the last ten years, according to the text?
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