In Brief

Global women’s strike: ‘If we stop, the world stops’

Thousands down tools on International Women's Day to highlight sexism and gender inequality

From sex workers in Soho to train drivers in Madrid, women around the world are going on strike today to protest gender inequality and sexual discrimination.

Thousands of protesters in more than 55 countries are downing tools this International Women’s Day, as campaigners urge women to abandon work – both paid and unpaid – and take to the streets.

In Spain, women are taking part in an unprecedented nationwide strike backed by the major unions.

Demonstrators chanting “if we stop, the world stops” have blocked roads and forced the cancellation of hundreds of rail services, according to El Pais.

“We women are tired: we have a double working day, we don’t have the same pay or conditions, and caregiving falls to us,” Maria Alvarez, a member of 8M Commission, an umbrella group of feminist organisations, told the Madrid-based newspaper.

The walkout is being backed by high-profile figures including actress Penelope Cruz, who has cancelled all of her planned public events today, and the mayors of Madrid and Barcelona.

However, some have opposed the strike, the BBC reports. Spain’s ruling centre-right party, Partido Popular (People’s Party), said the action was “for feminist elites and not real women with everyday problems”.

In the UK, more than 7,000 people have pledged to down tools, with strike actions taking place in London, Birmingham, Brighton, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Derry.

Activists are blockading the Department for Health, in the capital, to demand better healthcare for the transgender community, and are joining university lecturers on picket lines across the country.

In Soho, sex workers and their allies will turn out in the streets tonight to challenge the stigma surrounding their profession and the laws that put them in danger. 

“The criminalisation of the sex industry makes our work unsafe and exposes us to violence,” organisers say in an online statement.

“So, on 8 March, we will refuse to do the sex/work that we do for money and all the domestic, sex and care work that we are expected to do for free.”

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