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The June 14 strike towards a mass feminist movement?

The construction of the feminist and female* strike in Switzerland lasted a whole year and required a lot of effort. In general, the construction of a social and protest movement – in a country where right-wing parties reign and where the main weapon of the workers, the strike, is in the hands of the employers, through Pax Laboral[1] – is not an easy task. However, the feminist and women’s strike mobilized more than half a million. A historical political mobilization that overcame the 1991 strike, both in numbers[2] and in the repertoire of actions and even in the level of social contestation. We must remember that the current movement openly denounces the capitalist economy that weighs on the backs of women*, a phenomenon that was not present in 1991!

If the 2019 strike assumed an unprecedented scale, this is due, especially, to its decentralized nature. From the moment that collectives in neighborhoods, workplaces and schools were created, women* took possession of this necessary method of political action that is the strike. Diffusion and decentralized preparation popularized the strike, which allowed the construction of a broad front of contestation.

However, at present, it remains to do the most difficult political work. After having managed to mobilize so many people around the demands of the strike manifesto[3] – on the relationship with the body, work or with public space – we must definitely work on guaranteeing a permanent and inclusive social movement that claims itself as a feminism of totality, that is, a feminism that does not reproduce oppressions against other social categories[4] . As feminist, anti-racist and anti-capitalist activists, we must reject state feminism and ensure that this emerging movement becomes as broad as possible.

From now on, we have to be attentive to the form that this movement can take, as well as to its political base. The same applies to the political strategy to be adopted. To develop a new program of demands, based on the (new?) social composition of the movement? Maintaining the demands, making more visible those that were implicit until now, especially with regard to the racism and Islamophobia that affect Muslim women, gypsies or sex workers? To try to include in our reflections, actions, manifestos, the people whose conditions and rights have so far been kept invisible?

One thing is clear: we must continue to highlight the reproductive work done by women, defend the development of public services and the general reduction of working hours, but also combat the austerity policies that are imposed on the political agenda and that have a particular impact on the most vulnerable women and immigrants, such as increasing the age of retirement, banning the use of the burqa or even increasing the price of health insurance! However, combating elitist and racist policies is not enough to create a revolutionary movement to which we aspire so much. In order for it to be truly revolutionary and emancipatory, we must promote ideas and work towards the freedoms of all. Only through this process of conscientization, politicization and collective reflection – directly from the grassroots and which has already begun – will we be able to put ourselves at the center of the debate and demands of the 99%.

 


Notes:

[1]The original expression is “pax du travail”, “peace of labor”. In Switzerland, the right to strike is more restricted to workers than in Brazil. The justification for this is that, for the Swiss, everything can be solved diplomatically, including conflicts between employers and employees. In practice, this is used to subject the population to terrible working conditions and to prevent them from mobilizing against it by means of strikes.

[2] Even the traditional USS (Swiss Trade Union) informs more than 500 000 people:

https://www.uss.ch/themes/egalite-des-sexes/article/details/la-plus-grande-manifestation-politique-de-lhistoire-recente-un-signal-clair-pour-une-marche-rapide-vers legalite/?fbclid=IwAR3Ku5jwKmr85OTbSd2nPl3Xoa4S9i8HYEJF4bbNZlLwmEfpyeN6tQbBmp4

[3] https://frauenstreik2019.ch/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/manifeste_greve-14.06.19.pdf

[4] Pour un féminisme de la totalité, Paris: Editions Amsterdam, 2017, (sous la dir. de Félix Boggio Ewanjé-Epée, Stella Magliani-Belkacem, Morgane Merteuil, Frédéric Monferrand)

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