Italy is bracing itself for serious disruption tomorrow. International Womens Day will be marked by strikes and protests over high levels of gender-based violence in Italy and new laws blamed for worsening inequality and discrimination.
The 'Day Without Women' is expected to affect public transport, flights, schools, and other public services after almost all of Italy's trade unions have announced their participation.
Both public and private sector workers will be striking, and organizers have also encouraged women to go on strike from domestic tasks and “every productive activity”, to highlight the contribution women make to society.
“We strike because they kill us, at home or on the streets,” stated activists from Italian womens’ rights group Non una di meno. “We strike because they pay us less, because they exploit us and discriminate against us because of skin colour or our origin,” they said.
“And we strike because they deny us citizenship, because they take away humanitarian protection, because we suffer racism in all its forms.”
International Women's Day marchers in Milan last year. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP
Protesters are targeting a raft of specific policies introduced or proposed by the current government, including the Pillon bill.
This divorce bill proposed by conservative League senator Simone Pillon risks turning the clock back 50 years for women, children and survivors of domestic abuse, as it aims to change the rules on the separation of couples and the custody of children.
They’re also protesting Italy’s new security decree, often called the “Salvini law” after the far-right League leader and Interior Minister who introduced it, which activists say “prevents the freedom and self-determination of migrants and migrants, while legitimising racist violence.”
See a list of the events organized by Non Una di Meno here.
In practical terms, the strikes and protests mean people are warned to expect delays and disruption to travel across the country tomorrow.
The 24-hour strike action is expected to cause chaos at Italian transport hubs, with port and airport workers, including many Alitalia pilots and flight attendants, stopping work for the day. Rome’s Fiumicino Airport said that 136 Alitalia flights have had to be cancelled so far because of a lack of staff.
Public transport services are expected to be disrupted in all major cities, with cancellations and reduced services on many routes.
Any public transport considered “essential” will be guaranteed to run, but travellers and commuters are advised to check their route with the service provider. Disruption to Trenitalia, Italo and Trenord services is expected.
Some schools, libraries and other public services will also be closed during the strike action tomorrow.