With Trump pushing us closer to extinction daily, I’m convinced that we need an army of women to save the planet. International Women’s Day is the perfect time to mount a global women’s charge.
While there are male leaders protesting Trump’s cruel policies and Dr. Strangelove fantasies, they don’t always go far enough. We need massive doses of compassion and peaceful interconnections that stretch from community to community and from country to country. These heartfelt policies and practices are second nature to women.
I believe in the potential of a strong women’s global force because, as an NGO at the 1995 UN Women’s Conference in Beijing, I saw women from different cultures unite for the common good. The Beijing conference remains one of the most indelible experiences of my life.
I witnessed women from all over the world embrace the conference’s mission to eradicate illiteracy, tackle violence against women and girls, to foster women’s entrepreneurial projects, and to make birth control and health care universally available.
At Beijing we talked through differences where first world women were forced to give up their power to listen to third world women. We challenged one another. Women got angry but remained open to the other’s perspective. No irrevocable chasms resulted.
My first world self was taken on at different times by a young Indian woman, by a Japanese woman and by a small lunch group from Bosnia. I was forced to eat humble pie over and over.
When the conference was over most of the attendees left with a deep appreciation for the collective strength of women. Women united are a powerhouse. I think this is a major reason why officialdom has been resistant to a subsequent UN Women’s conference.
As the Doomsday Clock edges closer and closer to midnight we need more than conferences. I propose a women’s general strike to make the world sit up and take notice.
Today while women march in their hometowns or in big cities like New York, LA, and London and through out Asia and Africa, let’s capitalize on this energy and commit ourselves to a general global strike building on the concept outlined by Francine Prose in a recent Guardian article.
What would a general strike look like? The general strike is a tactic born among labor movements where strikers left their jobs to demand political and/or economic action. The intention is to take a stab at the economy by refusing to work or buy anything.
A central problem with this strategy is that there are many lower class women who can’t afford to lose a day’s salary. A friend suggested that women of means sponsor a woman afraid to give up a day’s pay by covering her salary for the day. There may even be wealthy sympathetic women who would offer to sponsor several women.
If women are emboldened by a successful day’s strike we could take it to the next level and implement a contemporary version of Lysistrata, the Greek play where wives united to deny sex to their husbands until they stopped their wars. Can you imagine how many tweets this might inspire from the infamous “pussy grabber?”
It’s up to women to make the world stop and take notice. It’s up to women to take a stand for a world that is safe for our children and grandchildren. Time is not on our side.