Supporting the strike for international women’s day is complicated in a way that kind of sums up the problem…
At school, my daughter’s teacher plans to observe the strike (good on her) and the idea was floated among parents and teachers that the strike-supporting thing to do would be to keep kids home on Thursday. But hang on – isn’t additional childcare work too? More work rather than stop work? Send them and it’s more work for the overstretched (and overwhelmingly female) teachers, keep them home and it’s more work for whoever takes a day off (no prizes for guessing who that will be).
Any mothers with small children who wish to participate in the afternoon strike (16.00-18.00) and the demonstration in Barcelona (18.30-20.30 – could there be a less convenient time for mothers???) will have to leave the school pick-up, dinner, bath and bed routine to someone else (paid or unpaid but likely female).
If I want to march with my sisters (I do!) my best option would be to unload my unpaid work onto my unpaid mother-in-law, whose lifelong unpaid work does not come with a retirement date (unlike her husband’s work). This option feels distinctly lacking in solidarity.
Men are not the enemy, they carry their own burden of gendered expectations, but there is literally no solution that does not involve men doing more boring, unpaid, thankless work for free, including when it involves sacrifices to their own careers.
Because if all women truly stopped all their paid and unpaid work, just for one day, the world really would have to take notice. The very fact it is so difficult to do shows how badly change is needed.