The general student strike called by the Sindicato de Estudiantes (SE – students union) and Libres y Combativas (free and combative, socialist feminist platform of SE and Izquierda Revolucionaria – sister organisation of the Socialist Party in the Spanish state) has been a powerful success. More than 1.5 million students emptied the classroom with 90% support for the strike in secondary schools. More than 100,000 people participated in over 60 morning street demonstrations all over the Spanish state! The determination we have shown against sexism in classrooms, sexist violence and patriarchal “justice” is also a powerful warning to the Sanchez government. We are not satisfied with gestures and promises.
We have had enough of this government looking the other way, and doing nothing to end the power of the Catholic Church in education, tolerating its homophobic and sexist propaganda, accepting scandalous court sentences from the Francoist justice system which allows rapists impunity, and maintaining cuts and privatisation in education.
From the early hours of the morning it was clear that the strike would be massive and the demonstrations very strong. In secondary schools it was solid: 90% in Galicia, Asturias, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Valencia, Andalucia, Madrid and elsewhere, and over 90% in Extremadura, the Canary Islands, Murcia etc etc. There was also major participation in universities around the country.
The demonstrations also had impressive turnouts: 15,000 in Madrid, 12,000 in Barcelona, 5,000 in Bilbao and thousands more in other Basque cities, over 15,000 in Andalucia, 5,000 in Galicia and 5,000 in Valencia, 2,000 in Gijon and tens of thousands more around the country.
The atmosphere was combative and full of enthusiasm on all demonstrations. We shouted slogans like “my skirt provokes nothing!”, “with or without clothes, don’t touch me!”, “no means no and the rest is rape!”, “yes to sex education, no to religion classes”, “whoever is in government we will defend our rights”, “the struggle will be feminist or not at all!” and many other chants. We were also delighted with the presence of hundreds of pensioners, veteran class fighters who protested by our side called out by the Coordinating body of the mass pensions movement. Their presence was an inspiration as reflected in their slogan – “whoever is in government we will defend our rights” – which is now also our own.
We also had the support of dozens of feminist organisations, LGBT and trans movements and movements of women in struggle, such as the Kellys (cleaning workers in struggle), anti-violence against women activists and movements for the abolition of prostitution who made a lively speech in our Madrid rally.
Many Libres y Combativas and SE activists for schools and universities also spoke at rallies in all the major cities, making it clear that we would not take one step back in our struggle, that we defend revolutionary anti-capitalist feminism of struggle, and will not tolerate any attacks on our rights. We explained how the movement of working class women is completely linked to the struggle against the social injustices and oppression of the capitalist system.
We also want to highlight the presence of thousands of our male comrades in struggle, who joined us in a united strike and who are together with us in the front line against attacks on our rights and those of LGBT and trans youth, struggling together against sexism and sexist prejudices.
This strike was a very important step forward to build a great youth and student movement against sexism in schools and universities after the great strikes of 8 March and 10 may this year, to win our demands from the government and education Ministry.
We will not stop until we have forced this government to apply a universal sex education policy in all schools, to educate against sexism, abuse and rape culture, and against homophobia and transphobia. Until they have eliminated all internal school rules which enforce repressive dress codes or go against the freedom to exercise any sexuality or the rights of the LGTB and trans community. Until they take disciplinary measures against any teachers – a small minority – who defend sexist attitudes. And until they once and for all repeal the reactionary education bill LOMCE and grant free education from kindergarten to university.
We want respect and dignity, the freedom to be who we are, and the end of abuse and humiliation. Join the SE and Libres y Combativas to build revolutionary anti-capitalist feminism!