On International Women’s Day, two separate groups of Brighton women will go on strike to get their voices heard – an action in keeping with this year’s #BeBoldForChange theme.
Students at Sussex University will walk out of lectures at midday to stand in solidarity with the Strike 4 Repeal, a strike demanding the repeal of the 8th Amendment in the Republic of Ireland. The amendment states that having an abortion is a criminal offence, meaning 12 people travel to the UK from Ireland daily in hope of legally accessing a safe abortion. If they do not, they face up to 14 years in prison.
Frida Gustafsson, Sussex’s Women Students’ Officer, said: “For me, International Women’s Day is a day for reflection; partially to reflect and celebrate how far we’ve come as a society in furthering gender equality, but also to reflect on how much further we have left to go before gender equality is achieved. Our demonstration on International Women’s Day 2017 is a celebration of just that – a symbolic stand of solidarity with everyone fighting for an equal world, and specifically with the Strike4Repeal movement in the Republic of Ireland.”
Later in the day, local activist group Sisters Uncut Brighton will gather by the clocktower to demand better services for victims of domestic violence. Attendees will bring luggage to represent escape plans, naming and labelling their bags to show what is standing in the way of their access to safety. The event coincides with Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s first Budget in Theresa May’s government; he is expected to announce further cuts for domestic abuse victim support services.
A spokesperson for Sisters Uncut Brighton said: “Experiences of misogyny, racism, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia, and ableism leave us with a burden that is difficult to carry. Government cuts closing down our routes to safety and support burden us even more.”
The day of Brighton-based activism also coincides with the USA-wide ‘Day Without A Woman‘ strike, an initiative organised to let men in America know how vital women are to the economy and in day-to-day life. It started as a small idea posted online by two women, and has since snowballed to attract worldwide media attention. For those who cannot take a day off, the event also includes avoiding shopping — except for at small women-and-minority-owned businesses — and wearing red in solidarity.