International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March every year. It is a chance to celebrate women’s history, remember women’s struggles, and to focus on women’s resistance across the world. In the last few years, women have lead inspiring movements globally - from the women of India campaigning against sexual violence to the women of Palestine on hunger strike against illegal occupation. However, the resurgence of interest in feminism and women’s resistance has also been seen closer to home. On Glasgow University campus, inspiring young student leaders from the University’s Feminist Society, campaigned vigorously over the disgraceful sexist behaviour of the Glasgow University Union, and in particular, sexist behaviour during debates.
International Women’s Day was first established by Clara Zetkin, a German marxist and feminist activist in 1911. The link between women’s struggles and working class struggles is an important one. As International Women’s Day approaches this year, it coincides with the 30th Anniversary of the miners’ strike. Organisations like Women Against Pit Closures brought women to the centre of the miners struggle as they stood in solidarity with their communities. The co-incidence of these two dates serves as quite a poignant reminder of the importance of women in struggle.
This year, Unite in Scotland is organising an event, which very much reflects the practical solidarity expressed during the miners strikes by women in pit communities. We are asking all staff and visitors to Unite’s Glasgow office at John Smith House to donate new and good quality toiletries, which will then be sent to Glasgow Women’s Aid (GWA). GWA relies on donations to help provide its services to the 5,000 women and their children who contact them on a yearly basis. GWA provides temporary refuge from women fleeing domestic violence. Domestic abuse is a shameful and damning indictment on our society, and organisations such as GWA provides practical support to women who are affected by physical, sexual or mental abuse in the home.
• 1 in 4 women experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives.
• In 90% of domestic abuse cases, children were in the same room or in the room next door of where the abuse took place against the woman.
Women and children who come to GWA, often arrive at their office with little or no belongings on them as they have fled their abuser with no time to prepare or pack essential items, and the donation of goods which can be useful to the women in this circumstance are of great value. Those who work in GWA provide a service, which for many women in Glasgow means the difference between life and death. On average, 2 women per week are killed by a male partner or ex-partner in the UK.
This is part of International Women’s Day, celebrated on 8 March this year. There will be deposit points for goods at reception, and Levels 2, 3 and 4 in the Glasgow office. The collection will run for one week from Monday 3 March to Saturday 8 March. Items like shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste, sanitary products, as well as non-perishable foods, such as tea and coffee are welcome.
As we look both internationally to our sisters fighting violence and oppression, and to the inspiring women who have taken a stance against sexism locally, we can see that women lie at the heart of our movement. It is our duty as a trade union and an essential part of our tradition that we work in every possible way to achieve a safer and more equal society for our sisters, at home and abroad.