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  • Writer's pictureMarina Kontara

8M BELGIUM : Never more reasons to come out on International Women’s Day!

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

Last year 10.000 people marched on the 8th of March in a national demonstration in Brussels, the last big demonstration before Belgium went into lockdown. There is not one aspect of women’s oppression that hasn’t been aggravated by the pandemic and the economic crisis. Today it won’t be possible to have a mass demonstration (allowed are only static actions with a maximum of 100 people) while there have never been more reasons for it: women’s hard fought rights of the past are in danger!

That’s why Campaign Rosa has made an elaborate plan of actions in 15 cities, with in bigger cities several actions at the same time, setting up new Rosa groups with the many women who contacted us looking for possibilities to be active.

Rosa teachers are working out classes on women’s oppression, trying to involve colleagues and pupils; Rosa school students will be fighting for free menstrual products to be available at school and for decent sex education that emphasizes consent and isn’t heteronormative. Both will bring forward the crying need for massive investment in education: classes that are too big, school buildings that are crumbling, a crying lack of teachers,… have all played a big role in making education an unsafe place during this pandemic.

We want to draw attention as well on the growing number of mostly women that are in danger of losing their jobs, demanding a continuation of state support to the workers in the hospitality sector, tourism, cultural and event sector and calling for a shorter working week without loss of pay.

And we’ll have action against violence on women and LGBTQI people, show support to the actions of the unregistered immigrants demanding regularization through the occupations of a church and a university in Brussels and show our solidarity with women in Poland in their fight against the abortion ban. On the central meeting place in Brussels we have also invited a speaker of the health workers’ collective Santé

en Lutte (Health in Struggle) to start the mobilization for the Second Big Health Workers’ Demonstration in May demanding a massive public refinancing of the sector.

Our aim is to let ourselves be heard on this important symbolic day, not allowing women’s demands to be forgotten, and to build Rosa groups in new cities, getting ourselves ready for when mass demonstrations become possible again.

If we fight, we can win!

In addition to many reasons to fight, Campaign Rosa also has two victories to celebrate on this 8th of March:

  • obtaining the minimum wage of 14 euros for all staff at the University of Ghent, a fight in which Rosa has participated from day one, in close cooperation with the socialist public sector trade union delegation at the university;

  • the fact that Jef Hoeybergs - who denounced Rosa on charges of defamation because we had made his disgusting sexist statements known worldwide - is himself being sued for those statements - no less than 1500 people filed a complaint on the basis of Rosa's material on Facebook!

It shows the importance of consistent mobilisation - without Rosa's action against the meeting where Jef could do his disgusting thing, his statements would have passed without a sound. Only by concretely taking our anger into the streets can pressure on the judiciary and politicians be increased.

It also shows the importance of building struggles around concrete demands that can bring about real change and not remain stuck in general principles. The struggle for a 14 euro minimum wage would make a huge difference to large groups of women and connects women's struggle with the struggle of the labour movement. It is that unity that can enforce such demands.

Campaign Rosa will continue to pound on that nail: rather than symbolic women's strikes, we call for the building of unity and solidarity in the workplace in the fight against all forms of discrimination, for real feminist strikes that use the full force of the labour movement to achieve victories. This year, the restrictions will make it difficult to achieve real strikes. After all, a successful strike does not come out of the blue, but must be concretely built. In the years to come, together with militant trade unionists, we will continue to fight for the 14 euro minimum wage and seize every opportunity to do so.

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