BUILDING POWER, AMPLIFYING VOICES: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2020

The month of March sets out to amplify women’s voices, be it to celebrate organized resistance or rage against systems that have historically been anti-women. Though women’s lives are perpetually under attack, the first quarter of 2020 has so far been taken over by global events disruptive to our daily life: Trump coming close to declaring war against Iran in January, and now a supervirus, COVID-19, which scientists have yet to understand, has left 106,019 infected and 3,571 deaths worldwide as of this writing. 

The lack of sensible paid sick leave programs in the US leaves low-wage and service workers scrambling to make ends meet while keeping themselves and their families healthy. We’ve been told that precautionary and preventive measures against the disease include social distancing and working remotely, but it is apparent that only a small percentage of workers would benefit once federal and local governments employ these steps. We can only imagine the level of anxiety for women whose share of the public and domestic work is far bigger. Adding to the working woman’s burden is the underfunding of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by this administration, with the VP nonchalantly saying that he could not guarantee that Medicare/Medicaid will cover the test kits. And let’s not forget that the first responders, the healthcare workers, the nurses– a significant number of whom are women of color from countries like Nigeria and the Philippines– will bear the brunt of this health crisis. Their concerns about lack of training and protective gear have fallen on deaf ears.

It is business as usual in the Empire. It is of no surprise to us that the sinister edict stays: Do not interrupt the flow of capital. Even at the expense of its unprotected and neglected citizens. 

While vulnerable communities make sense of and adapt to inevitable lifestyle changes brought on by evolved viruses and climate change, with the margin of security getting narrower by the week, predators abound, poised to attack. Pimps and traffickers are having a field day from the distraction. The porn industry has begun capitalizing on our current situation: Coronavirus porn is now going viral.  

In New York City, poster ads romanticizing prostitution have been plastered across the subway system. Where working-class families struggle to stay afloat, some so-called activists call not for the dismantling of the oldest form of oppression, but for legalizing it. This is not empowering women and their communities. This is not solidarity. This is a concerted effort funded by a white billionaire pushing an agenda that will further marginalize women of color, the feminized, and children from low-income communities. 

Every year in March, we talk about women’s labor, how we shoulder way more than our share, how we figure conspicuously in the daily grind. But this remains clear: it is not a woman’s job to give sex on demand, to rent out her body for it to be used in ways that fuel the depravations of a man’s mind. It is not our role to fill in the presumed gaps in sexuality that men think they need. This reeks of capitalism and no amount of euphemizing the language presented will change that. 

AF3IRM women know that while we identify and name our struggles and layers of oppression, there is no time to despair: Our goals are consistent, our movement remains unwavering. We intend to fight and win. 

On March 8, our sisters from AF3IRM Puerto Rico will unfurl the banner of militant sisterhood in San Juan. Their humbling display of tenacity and perseverance gives lifeblood to our work. We also applaud the women of Mexico who will go on strike on March 9: #UnDiaSinMujeres (A Day Without Women), a mobilization that aims to shed light on femicide and the murders of 7-year-old Fátima Aldrighett, and 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla, envisions a day of women not participating in public and domestic work. Lastly, we salute the women of Chile, with more than 1M expected to join the march to reignite the waves of protests against social injustice that started a few months ago. 

We in AF3IRM believe that building power by establishing a united front with our sisters and allies will effect change that lays the groundwork for liberation for ALL women. Power means possessing agency to veer away from harmful economic compromises. It means recognizing our individual privileges and pushing forth a horizontal way of organizing with those who have a lot at stake holding the megaphone.

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Here is our list of chapter events for March 2020. Please refer to our chapter’s social media pages for further details.

Hawaii: 

  • March 5th: Sit-down with Swedish Ambassador for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs re: Nordic Model
  • Ongoing: IWD social media campaign

LA:  

  • March 15th: Embodying Liberation: Skills, Strengths, and Strategies for Our Movement – A fundraiser and full day of feminist teach-ins
  • March 29th: First Ever Filipina Fest convened by FilAm ARTS

SF:  

  • March 8th: In, Against, and Beyond the Capitalist Hydra (EZLN gathering) convened by Mujeres Sexta Grietas del Norte
  • March 14th: Empowering Women of Color Conference presentation titled “Defending Our Homes: Land and Women Not For Conquest”

CHI: 

  • Date TBD: Book Club (internal) Prostitution Narratives: Stories of Survival in the Sex Trade 

NY: 

  • Date TBD: Fundraiser/Celebration

Puerto Rico: 

  • March 8th: International Women’s Day march contingent in San Juan


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