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Reportage. On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — of women will refuse to undertake productive work of any kind. In Rome, the walkout has merged a variety of issues.

Italy readies for March 8 global women’s strike

Ni una menos. Not one less.

The movement that began in Argentina in 2015 is marching toward a global women’s strike on March 8 that’s now reached 40 countries. This week in Italy, organizers held press conferences in various cities. In Rome, they met as usual at the International House of Women, a place of welcome and continuity. On the table were the themes and actions for the 24-hour walkout: a complete abstention from productive and reproductive work.

The problem of male violence against women cannot be fought with more penalties, the organizers say. (The Italian Parliament is considering life imprisonment for perpetrators of femicide.) Instead it requires a radical transformation of society. The struggle, therefore, is both concrete and symbolic against a structural phenomenon that controls and influences all spheres of women’s lives: at home, at work, at school, in hospitals, in court, in the newspapers, on the street.

For that reason, Ni Una Menos (“A Day Without Women” in the United States) is an opportunity to redeem March 8 from these rituals and replace it will new content. “A single feminist, women, global, social, trade union strike. A strike from work, domestic care and consumption. A strike to show the value of the unpaid work we carry out every day, to affirm the need for welfare, which our care work often replaces.”

Several trade unions have joined, though the larger union confederations have not taken up the challenge. Susanna Camusso, the general secretary of the Italian General Confederation of Labor, did not respond to a request to meet, but the CGIL will organize demonstrations in the workplace. FIOM-CGIL has stated it “will not announce a general strike, judging this mobilization tool in terms of a political strike, scarcely articulated, understandable and therefore feasible in the workplace where it is present and active.”

The global strike encompasses various disputes that will animate themed squares, including against exploitation and black market work. In Rome, at 8 a.m. on the morning of March 8, the marchers will head to the headquarters of Almaviva, the IT firm, to protest layoffs. At 10 a.m., everyone will move to the center of the Lazio region (at Garbatella). The initiative covers three themes: “Work, health and the situation of women’s refuges and counseling centers, the question of conscious motherhood and obstetric violence during childbirth, highlighted by the closure of the only childbirth home, that of Ostia, for lack of personnel.”

Hospital San Camillo-Forlanini in Rome held a competition to hire two doctors who don’t conscientiously object to abortion and who will be assigned to the day hospital and day surgery suite to apply Law 194. “A story that re-opens the question of the very high percentage of objectors (76 percent of physicians nationwide and 81 percent just in Lazio), while unraveling the web of Vatican interests to get their hands on departments of obstetrics and gynecology.”

Central for the movement is the drafting of a new feminist national plan against violence “from the bottom up and addressing structural problems.” Recently, the government has launched roundtables for the next anti-violence plan. The movement is calling for perspectives on March 8 and says it wants to listen to collective proposals.

On the morning of the 8th (at 9 a.m. at Piazza San Cosimato and at 11 a.m. at La Sapienza), there will be two gatherings against the “good school” plan, a government proposal to give schools more autonomy, and its implementing legislation. They’re calling for education to be free, secular and accessible to everyone. At 5 p.m. is the culminating gathering at the Colosseum to say: “If our lives aren’t valuable, then we’ll go on strike.”

A strike against all types of violence racism, homophobia, against walls and borders, together with migrant women. The plan is to hang banners from every bridge to highlight the repudiation of cages and boundaries. Content and symbols (the Russian doll, black and fuchsia to stand out) are common, defined from the great demonstration of Nov. 26 (over 200,000 people attended) in two national assemblies. The forms and initiatives may vary. This week Twitter was buzzing internationally with the hashtags #YoParo8M and #WhyIstrike.

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