2/26/04

What half the world wants

By Mumia Abu-Jamal from death row

If we look to the ubiquitous commercials that zip past our eyeballs, we would think that most women want the Bun-Roller, or a new and improved Derma-Peel, each of which promises a brand new, sexier you.

But there is a world beyond the glare of the TV screen, where women are organizing and fighting for, not a new toy, but a new world.

On March 8th, 2004, women around the world, in L.A., England, Argentina, Uganda, Peru, Philadelphia, San Francisco, in Guyana, in southern India, in Trinidad and Tobago, in Spain, women will be staging the 5th Global Women's Strike -- a movement involving women in some 60 countries, many involved in grassroots organizations, fighting for payment for housework; for clean, safe water resources; for housing, education, gender justice, and peace.

In a world where war is now our norm, the Global Women's Strike is part of the vast throng against war and occupation-- not only in Iraq, but in Palestine, in Colombia, in the Congo, and in Kashmir.

Their organizing slogan, which unites strikers from a broad array of struggles, is deceptively simple: "Invest in Caring Not Killing."

Although the movement had its beginning years ago in the 'Pay for Housework' movement in England, it has grown considerably into a worldwide, anti-racist and anti-war movement.

The movement recognizes the basic inequality built into the capitalist economic system -- the class, racial, and gender- based exploitation underlying it all.

Women's issues differ, from nation to nation, and between classes in the same nation; yet there are also similarities in the fundamentals underlying those differences.

On the supportive role played by women in the home, Marxist feminist Selma James, in her influential 1973 pamphlet *Sex, Race and Class* (London: Housewives in Dialogue, 1986 repr.) writes:

...[H]ousewives are involved in the production and (what is the same thing) reproduction of workers, what Marx calls *labour power.* They service those who are daily destroyed by working for wages and who need to be daily renewed; and they care for and discipline those who are being prepared to work when they grow up. (pp.2-3)

At base, James argues, because women's work performs such a critical role in capital's production, it should receive a commensurate return.

All around the world, women are trying to better their condition, and that of their families and communities. In England: Crossroads Women's Centre, 230a Kentish Town Road, London NW5 2AB, is co-ordinating the Strike. E-mail: womenstrike8m@server101.com. In Peru, the Centro de Capacitacion para Trabajadores del Hogar (or Able Women's Workers Center) in Lima can be emailed at ccth@terra.com.pe. In Trinidad and Tobago, the National Union of Domestic Employees is organizing, their email address: domestic@tstt.net.tt. Here in the US there are Crossroads Women's Centers in LA, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Their email addresses are simple: la@crossroadswomen.net ; sf@crossroadswomen.net and philly@crossroadswomen.net. The phone #s: [LA]: (323)-292-7405; (Frisco] (415)626-4114; [Philly} (215)-848-1120.

In Kampala, Uganda, the Kaabong Women's Organisation is concerned, not with war in a distant land; but war at home; in Uganda, for the past 17 years. Their demand is not just for peace, but for land; and for water; for there, as in much in the rest of the world, agriculture rests on the backs of billions of women. The Kaabong Women's Organisation can be emailed: akulum@hotmail.com .

"Invest in Caring, not Killing..." Hmmm... What a concept!

 

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

[Mr. Jamal has written widely about war and other issues. His latest work, *Faith of Our Fathers* (Africa World Press, 2003) was named one of "The Most Remarkable Books of 2003" by *Black Issues Book Review* (Nov/Dec '03).]

Check out Mumia's NEW book: FAITH OF OUR FATHERS: AN EXAMINATION OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE OF AFRICAN AND AFRICAN-AMERICAN PEOPLE at www.africanworld.com

Mumia Abu-Jamal is also the author of three other books: 'Live from Death Row', 'Death Blossoms', and 'All Things Censored'.

When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die. And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal