Red banners fluttering on high, members of NYC-DSA massed in Washington Square at the International Women’s Strike rally on March 8. They came to demand equity, justice, and human rights for women and all gender-oppressed people.
From home makers to sex workers, speakers addressed the strikers, expressing solidarity with cis and trans women of many races and religions, both here and around the world. They spoke to those who perform paid and unpaid labor, and remembered the (mostly female) West Virginia teachers who have recently inspired us all.
Male-presenting comrades worked the literature tables and ran errands, while women lead the program. On this cold evening in New York, NYC-DSA stood with the Spanish women who led a general strike in cities across their nation and with Italian women marched in 40 cities and shut down major transportation lines.
The legacy of the International Women’s Strike today goes back to 1909. In that year, the Socialist Party of the US declared National Women’s Day on March 8, the first anniversary of a garment workers’ strike. On that day, they demanded better pay, voting rights, and shorter hours for women.
This year, we honored old struggles and current ones as we passed the Stonewall Inn, Pleasure Chest, Wendy’s, a closed hospital, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Along the way, we sang “Bread and Roses,” composed by Mimi Fariña in 1912:
“As we go marching, marching, we’re standing proud and tall.
The rising of the women means the rising of us all.
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life’s glories, bread and roses, bread and roses.”