Thursday, March 8 is International Women’s Day, and to mark the occasion, three Canadian publishers are going on strike in solidarity with women around the world.
Between the Lines, Inanna Publications, and Fernwood Publishing will close their offices on Thursday to highlight the essential work performed by women and to call attention to rampant exploitation and harassment of women in the workforce.
The three Canadian publishers will be withdrawing their labour – both paid labour and unpaid domestic work – as a show of support for the International Women’s Strike, an initiative involving women in some 56 countries. The impetus for the Canadian action comes from Pluto Press in the U.K., which is closing for the day to participate in the London women’s strike. “In the U.K. there are actually people going out, beyond publishing,” says Amanda Crocker, managing editor at Between the Lines. “There are a lot of people going out on strike that day and marching in the streets. So [Pluto] decided to close their offices in solidarity with the strike there and I thought we should do the same thing here, even if there aren’t a lot of Canadians aware of the International Women’s Strike.”
Crocker, who attended the Women’s Day march in Toronto with her two daughters last Saturday, says there is symbolism in closing on a weekday, an action that is more likely to have a direct impact on the mechanisms of capitalism that operate to women’s detriment. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of momentum for Canadians to get behind the day where you withdraw your labour – paid labour, unpaid labour, community labour. So we thought as three radical publishers we could draw a little more attention to this.”
Luciana Ricciutelli, editor in chief of Inanna, says that Crocker approached them to participate in the Canadian strike, and she and her team were immediately on board. “We are a feminist press and we want to support underrepresented women and communities in their/our struggles for equality, dignity, freedom, autonomy, and our very lives,” she says.
In an email signed by Ricciutelli and Inanna marketing manager Renée Knapp (who also does marketing and publicity work for Between the Lines), Inanna invites participation in the initiative by people who wish to show support for the International Women’s Strike. People are invited to refuse labour – paid or otherwise – on March 8; to not shop on that day unless it is in support of “women-owned and/or minority-owned businesses only (to demonstrate the rejection of neoliberalism and capitalism and the harm that it causes women and marginalized peoples around the world)”; and to wear red as a symbol of support for the strike.
“I think the strike in general is intended to just raise awareness about the amount of work that women do and how that work is undervalued and often ignored,” says Candida Hadley, acquisitions and development editor at Fernwood. “I’m very conscious of the fact that there are many, many women in the world who do not have the opportunity to strike. They must show up for work or risk losing their jobs.”
This is a point of privilege that Between the Lines’s Crocker is also well aware of. “We all work in progressive workplaces,” she says. “We’re a collective, so we can collectively decide to shut any day, I suppose.”
That said, Crocker is hopeful that the momentum they build with this year’s action might spread throughout the industry, such that next year, more than a trio of self-described “radical” publishers will choose to participate. “I hope that other publishers will join us next year and maybe it will build.”