Strike and permitted protests with safety measures on Women's Day
The bigger impact of Covid-19 on females with "false work-life balance" and job insecurity among complaints
International Women's Day has brought with it another edition of the annual feminist strike which has gained ground in the past few years in Catalonia.
Trade unions such as CGT and IAC called for a 24-hour stoppage with job insecurity, especially for migrants, as one of the main complaints, together with gender-based violence and a "false work-life balance under the umbrella of working from home."
Several protests were called for March 8, and unlike Madrid's regional government, the Catalan cabinet allowed them as long as they complied with safety measures.
The biggest demonstration was held on Barcelona's Passeig de Gràcia at 6.30 pm, drawing thousands of people at various points up and down the iconic city centre street.
The event was organised with numerous stages and platforms along the street to avoid there being one central meeting point gathering all demonstrators.
Some rallies were also held from the early morning, although turnout was reduced due to the pandemic.
For instance, around a hundred people blocked the main accesses to the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).
Meanwhile, dozens of women also blocked Barcelona's Meridiana Avenue, one of the main routes in and out of the city, during rush hour, which prompted heavy traffic in the Sagrera area.
In the southern city of Tarragona, an International Women's Day performance has been called off by the protest group that organized it because of police enquiries into 17 of its members. According to the Catalan police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, an investigation is underway after graffiti was discovered this morning at the Tarragona headquarters of the far-right political party Vox.
Protesters said they would maintain the fight against fascism and burned photos of the Spanish king. An official event at the local council did go ahead as planned, as did a student protest of about 30 young people.
Around 200 gathered in the nearby city of Reus at midday on Monday. Earlier, some 30 activists had marched through the city stopping at various care homes to read their manifesto. At Ítaca Fortuny old folks' home, which was heavily impacted during the pandemic, staff and some residents came out to applaud the women demonstrating.
In Girona, 500 students, from both high school and university, gathered under the banner 'For a feminist education, students go on strike!' As they marched, students chanted "Girona will be the grave of masculinity" and "They are not dead, they are murdered." A sit-down protest was held on Jaume I Avenue, which passed without incident.
At another event organized by Girona council and others, Fina Surina, from the Catalan Women's Institute has read a manifesto saying that "patriarchal habits" have not been affected by the pandemic, and, in fact, women have had to take on even more roles and responsibilities than men.
In western Catalonia, an official event was held in Lleida at the spacious setting of Plaça Blas Infante by the River Segre, featuring women from 14 different backgrounds. The feminist group Women of Lleida refused to take part, however, as they objected to the presence of police representatives at the event last year. They hosted their own event instead, unveiling a banner that read 'Let nothing stop our struggle. For a revolutionary feminism.'
In Barcelona, one of Catalonia's main unions, the CCOO, read a statement that said "every day" must be Women's Day and demanded an end to inequality
Pandemic impact on women
The strike and protests are also boosted due to the impact of the pandemic, as women are the ones who are suffering the most due to Covid-19, as confirmed by a recent report from the Catalan Women's Institute.
"More women have worked from home than men. But women have done more household chores than men and have more frequently taken care of both children and the elderly," the institute's president, Laura Martínez, told Catalan News.
Indeed, Spain's science ministry published some figures in October 2020 saying that roughly 50% of female researchers had been exclusively in charge of housework during the first months of the pandemic, and 43% had been in charge of taking care of relatives – the figure lowered to 20% and 18% respectively for men.
The fact that most frontline workers have been female, and also that gender-based violence has been on the rise are only some of the other side effects of Covid-19.
Unemployment and gender gap
Female unemployment also increased more than male unemployment during these unprecedented times, and the general jobless figures favor men (12.85% at the end of 2020) compared to women (14.97%) for yet another year.
As for the gender pay gap, the 2018 figures, published in February 2021, show that it was significant, at 22.2%, just slightly narrower than one year before – this means that women earn on average €6,350 per annum less than men.
Between 2014 and 2018, the gender gap has reduced by 3.8 percentage points.