Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Spotlight on Grassroots Movements for Change

After writing the post on the editorial in The Nation encouraging people to vote for Fahrenheit 911, it occurred to me that I don't know jack about grassroots movements for change. I don't like to not know jack about something, so I decided to do a little research on grassroots movements for change and get to know jack.

I did a google search on grassroots movements for change and got 326,000 hits. Wow, that is too much jack for my limited staff at the Institute, but I am toying with the idea of making a regular feature of this site to highlight different grassroots movements for change. Today I will feature the Global Women's Strike.

They are an international group of women of colour, indigenous & rural women, mothers, women in waged work, women with disabilities, lesbian & bisexual women, older women, young women, sex workers, religious activists, students, teachers, women in trade unions and alternative health care supporters. [I hope I didn't leave anyone out.]

What do they do:
They go on strike every March 8th.

Why do they strike:
Women do the work of giving birth to, feeding and caring for the whole world. Those in whom we have invested our lives are slaughtered as ‘collateral damage’ or turned into killing machines.
And so we have been central to every anti-war movement. It is a disaster that only half the human race is trained to care and the other half told it has ‘more important things to do’.
As corporate power and its wars threaten every corner of all our lives, people everywhere have formed massive movements – to reclaim our land and our planet, and to stop the theft (via privatisation) of water, seeds, genes . . . The Global Women’s Strike, women’s independent voice in this great movement, reclaims military spending for caring, feeding, healing, learning.
These women have some issues.

What are their demands:

Payment for all caring work - in wages, pensions, land & other resources. What is more valuable than raising children & caring for others?

Invest in life & welfare, not military budgets or prisons. [And burkas, we need to invest in burkas.]

Pay equity for all, women & men, in the global market. [Thanks for throwing the men a bone, Marx was a man you know.]

Food security for breastfeeding mothers, paid maternity leave and maternity breaks. Stop penalizing us for being women. [Do men get this stuff already?]

Don't pay 'Third World debt'. We owe nothing, they owe us. [Well somebody has got to pay damn it]

Accessible clean water, healthcare, housing, transport, literacy. [Men have this stuff, we just keep it in the mens' locker room at the country club]

Non-polluting energy & technology which shortens the hours we work. We all need cookers, fridges, washing machines, computers, & time off! [It is a little known fact that non-polluting energy will shorten the hour to 50 minutes.]

Protection & asylum from all violence & persecution, including by family members & people in positions of authority. [Damn, if only we hadn't cut the prison budgets we could lock these bad guys up.]

Freedom of movement. Capital travels freely, why not people? [ I understand capital uses travelocity.]

Other things that piss them off.

America's new war" and all wars - women & children are most of those killed & wounded, and 80% of refugees.

Globalisation - an end to no pay, low pay and too much work.

Can anyone deny that production should be at the service of caring, not killing and profit? Yet $800+ billion is spent on arms each year – and more money has been committed to bombing countries like Afghanistan where people are starving, and persecuting or imprisoning anyone anywhere who dares to oppose.

A strike is the strongest weapon that workers have, and women, who do 2/3 of the world’s work, are the hardest workers. When we stop, everything is disrupted.

People everywhere see that governments are promoting corporate greed against us while lining their own pockets. They impose structural adjustment programmes and cuts in services and welfare benefits, impoverishing us and imposing killing overwork. [I am starting to get the impression these women just don't want to work.]

The gap between women's wages and men's is 25%-50% and growing, lowering our pensions and our social power at every age.

Together the Strike and its demands give a unique framework for grassroots women and girls to express our needs whatever our situation, race, nationality, age, income, occupation, dis/ability, sexual preference . . . In towns and cities but also in villages, where most of us live.

I feel like I know a lot of jack now, but I still have a few questions for the Global Women's Strike so I sent them the following note.

My name is Pile. I am writing about grassroots movements for change. You seem to have a good one, would you help me out and answer a few questions.

What do you find is the biggest impediment to acheiving change through grassroots means?

Do you think we would not need prisons if the worlds governments met your demands?

Not that I dispute it, but where did you get the statistic that women do 2/3 of the worlds work?

Do you like pudding?

At the time of posting I have not received an answer to my little note, but rest assured I will update the post if I do.