On the bus that takes us from Rome to Bologna, the average age couldn’t be more than 25, with some exceptions above and below, ranging from the youngest, who forced everybody to respect nap time, to some older people. Some watch on small screens the movie Zootropolis, the new Disney cartoon about a female bunny-cop. “But she is just a guard,” some exclaim to a chorus of boos.
On the packed buses, there are representatives of different self-managed organizations, social centers, grassroots union leaders and anti-violence centers that work with migrants. Marta takes the microphone and explains the travel information and appointments that await us.
At the University of Bologna, the crowd participating at the tables is larger than the congregation in Rome, the day after the big event of Nov. 26, when over 200,000 people took to the streets. Then, there were more than 1,200 worktables; this weekend there are around 2,000. The eight thematic groups are the same that started in Rome: legislative and legal; labor and welfare; diversity, sexual and emotional education: formation as a prevention and combat tool against gender-based violence; migrant feminism; sexism in the movements; right to sexual and reproductive health; violence in the media; and escape routes from violence. The debate, sometimes animated but always inclusive, extends beyond the closing bell, announced obsessively on the institution’s speakers at 6 p.m.
During the plenary session — in the packed lecture hall and direct streaming for those sitting in another lecture hall — the worktable summaries are presented, as well as the themes and proposals for the global strike on March 8: abstention from all productive, reproductive and consumption activities. It will be a general 24-hour strike, “inside and outside the workplace; for those with unstable work, the employed, the unemployed and pensioners; for women without wages, and those receiving subsidies; for women with or without an Italian passport; for the self-employed and students; for those in the homes, on the streets, in schools, in markets, in neighborhoods.”
The call to arms in the “new feminist strike” was also sounded to the trade unions. The base organizations, like Cobas and USB, have joined the initiative, but there is an ongoing discussion about having a second strike at schools to coincide with the strike on March 8. Right now, the school strike is scheduled for Feb. 17, but both initiatives share goals.
There are many proposals coming from the working group on education and formation. Gender education, which is necessary at all levels of schooling, “is not a subject, but a political and cultural posture to prevent male violence.” On March 8, they will teach “lessons in the square” to denounce the systemic violence of patriarchy, capitalism and neocolonialism, in order to “build bridges, not borders.”
It is impossible to give an account of the plurality of paths and voices seeking common mission, re-defining old quandaries and new problems from a feminist perspective. The so-called reception system for migrants is radically criticized, based on security and deportations. The horizon is a world without permits or rejections, the bar is set very high, but the goals are concrete: citizenship, unconditional permits and family conditioning for migrants, fulfillment of obligations under the Oil Convention for domestic workers, abolition of “conscientious objection” in hospitals and public facilities, the political revival of consultants and others.
The preliminary conclusions state: “With or without the unions, we will shut down the country. Not an hour less.” The conclusions are a work in progress because the path does not stop on March 8. The next summit will be in Rome on April 22 and 23. The goal is to converge practices and reflections in the drafting of a feminist anti-violence plan to be submitted to the institutions.
This is a new movement with international connections. More than 30 countries have joined the strike, which started from a proposal by Argentinian women in October. In the wake of Poland’s women’s strike, which triggered the movement, the Argentinians chose black to identify themselves. In Italy, two colors will be used during the strike and the regional marches: black and fuchsia. ”From tide to ocean. We are a storm. And no cliff can stop us.”
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