The women of AF3IRM salute all workers around the world this May Day! In a time of deep subjugation and exploitation as we witness the genocide of womankind in all its forms across borders, we come together on International Workers’ Day to not only continue to repeat what we all know – that this capitalist patriarchal system is constructed to fail us, especially transnational/women of color – but to also push forward what it means to have our work truly valued and to work with dignity. We know that capitalism will never bring about collective liberation and that we must build new structures for real freedom. With each day that we work to support ourselves and our families and to uplift our communities, the value of our work under capitalism is undermined to support our own oppression. Many of our communities are barely able to survive – so we must resist these systems and demand the right to thrive! We wish to build a new world- one in which women’s labor, both paid and unpaid, is valued every single day.
Women especially need to change how society views and values work – to redefine what a living wage is, to push for transparency and equity in pay, to demand a thrivable wage, to challenge the standards for paid family leave and public assistance programs, and to truly unite workers and our struggles across and within borders. Until we dismantle class society, we need to fight against the devaluation and exploitation of immigrant and migrant workers and to promote a living wage and better work conditions for all occupations and sectors – including giving just compensation for domestic workers, undocumented workers, community organizers, nonprofit workers, educators, artists, and freelancers.
We continue to speak out against the disparity in pay – especially for women of color. For every dollar a white male in America makes, black women make 64 cents, Latina women 56 cents, and Asian/Pacific Islander women 79 cents with even worse compensation once data is disaggregated, dropping down to 66 cents for Native Hawaiian women and 55 cents for Hmong and Tongan women. Single mothers make 58 cents for every dollar a father makes. Two thirds of low-wage job holders are women. For undocumented and migrant workers, the pay and the working conditions can be even worse, as they can often be underpaid or not paid at all. The disparity goes even beyond pay, as the Panama Papers leak demonstrated. The gap between the rich and poor continues to widen with politicians and millionaires (mostly men) safeguarding enough finances to lift up entire states in global tax havens, while workers and more local entrepreneurs, including women-owned businesses, have to pay out larger percentages of their earnings and profits. With trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), workers continue to be exploited and the smaller countries are robbed of revenue that could be used for local public, educational, and health services that many women and children would benefit from.
In the world we envision, we in AF3IRM believe that work should sustain women – not tear us down or slowly kill us. We should be able to work with dignity and without fear for our lives and safety. Work should not just be about the future of a company – but it should also focus on the state and future of our bodies and minds, our families, and our communities. All women’s work both paid and unpaid, including childcare and housework, should be valued and shared. We should be able to support women at all stages and from all backgrounds regardless of whether we are single without children, married, or a single parent; what languages we speak; how we look or if we have hidden or visible disabilities; or whether we work in the fields, in the office, or in the homes of others or our own. For women with children, there needs to be affordable child care, as well as spaces for breastfeeding and pumping. We should not have to continually compromise our integrity, our energy, and our lives to get by each day!
The dismantling of the capitalist patriarchal system will obviously not happen overnight – but we know that we can move ever closer to the new world of our radical imaginations. We must build collectively – within and between communities, as well as across and beyond borders. We know the road to liberation is long but with each victory we have seen, we know we are moving ever closer to our goals! We salute all those who have worked to increase the minimum wage, like through the Fight for 15 campaign, and are helping to push through new regulations around the country. We salute the faculty and lecturers in our universities and colleges, such as those in California State University system, who push for salary increases and more funding. We salute those who resist the environmental destruction and harm caused by companies’ disregard for land, especially indigenous land, such as Goldman Prize winner Máxima Acuña of Peru and her fight against mining companies, as well as the Mapuche women in Argentina standing up against fracking. We recognize the needs and demands of domestic workers scattered around the globe, India’s women brick-kiln workers in Punjab, the Driscoll farmworkers, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their Fair Food campaign, the Chicago Teachers’ Union, and many more collective workers’ movements. Workers the world over continue to rise up and fight for change and it not only gives us hope, but also feeds our desire to push forward!
We in AF3IRM believe deeply in the possibilities of our liberation and in our dreams for a better world. We know that together we can bring this world of our making into being. It is absolutely necessary for all of us to imagine a world beyond capitalism and the status quo and to truly think about what our ideal existence look, feels, sounds, and tastes like. We see glimpses of this world in our everyday life – as we witness communities supporting local businesses and fighting against gentrification and corporatization, collective child care, the creation of spaces for healing and restorative justice, neighborhood gardens, the push for accountability from our governments and within our movements, and more. Through our own summer schools with women and youth, we also know this new world is necessary and it can be created because we have gathered to discuss and manifest these new possibilities and to challenge the current state. This summer, AF3IRM chapters in New York and in California’s Orange County and South Bay continue this practice as they host our Summer Schools of Women’s Activism, with our Youth programs also being held in Iowa and Los Angeles.
We call on people to join us! Be with us today in the streets as we march with workers worldwide to mark May Day. Be with us this summer as we gather together in our Summer Schools of Women’s/Youth Activism. Be with us every day as we continue the struggle for our liberation. A new world is always possible – and we demand and will work for nothing less.