Switzerland: June 14th will go down in history as an important day in a country where normally everything is a little less spectacular. Hundreds of thousands of women in Switzerland took part in the second nationwide women strike. Actions and mobilizations took place in all parts of the country, in cities and in rural areas. By choosing June 14th a continuity to the first national women’s strike in 1991 was established. This is seen as the largest strike in Swiss post-war history. The women strike 2019 impressively ties in with that tradition.
Originally published by ajour – ★ – magazin für autonomen journalismus. Translated by Enough 14.
The mobilization of the last weeks and months, supported by innumerable local collectives, has gained incredible momentum and brought the critique on sexism, patriarchy and capitalism to a broad public. From the outside, the impression may sometimes have been created that the women strike in 2019 was a campaign of the trade unions, which mainly focused on the issue of pay and equal opportunities. But it’s the other way round: organizing and mobilizing from below has literally pushed the trade unions and left-wing parties forward. As a result, the contents of the campaign reflected the diversity and radicalism of feminist movements.
At this late hour it is impossible for us to adequately summarize June 14, 2019. The number of participants in the demos only gives an idea of the dimension: 160,000 in Zurich, 40,000 each in Basel and Berne, 20,000 in Lausanne and Geneva and even in smaller cities such as Delsberg, Aarau, Solothurn or Bellinzona, four-digit numbers were easily reached. We were on the streets in Zurich. And here, too, we quickly lost track during the course of the day. Because it wasn’t just the big demos that characterized the women strike, it was the countless actions, gatherings and happenings all over the city.
At midnight on June 14th, a car convoy started in Zurich through Langstrasse. From early morning onwards, women gathered in public places throughout the city for brunches, discussions, city walks and many creative activities – the women strike collective Zurich alone listed over sixty events on its website. Protest breaks and rallies took place at workplaces, teachers at many schools did not teach normal lessons, but talked with students about sexism and role models.
At noon more than 2000 womenInterTrans*Queers blocked the Central – a central traffic junction near Zurich main train station. “Building resistance from below also means taking space. When and how we want! That’s why we are now occupying Central together with many women. We send militant and solidarity greetings to all women who strike today at their paid and unpaid work,” writes the Revolutionary Women Strike Collective about the action. The blockade dissolved in a self-determined way after about two hours – and was only the prelude to an even more active afternoon on which several demos marched simultaneously through the city and showed solidarity with the feminist movement in Rojava, with women in prisons and asylum centres or people working in the care sector.
The 2019 women strike will continue to have an impact well beyond the 14th of June. It made many – by far not only young – womenInterTrans*Queers get politically involved for the first time or again, raise their voices and organize. Many long-standing activists also sat down with their colleagues, neighbours and friends to discuss their situation in this patriarchal society. Numerous grassroots groups – for example, restaurant employees, journalists, teachers, day care workers or hospital staff – whose activities have the potential to have an impact beyond the June 14 campaign also emerged from this. Representing something like the “Spirit of the 14th June”, the words of a representative of the Gastra collective at the demonstration in Zurich should stand for: “When we first met as gastronomic women, we felt real goosebumps solidarity. To hear how things are going in the different businesses, what the problems are and what the possibilities for action are, opened the eyes of many of us gastronomic women: We are not alone with these unbearable problems, we are many and we are strong”.
Ajour/Enough is Enough