GWS is an international network campaigning for a living wage for mothers & other carers, we have been calling for a women's strike since 8 March 2000. GWS is co-ordinated by the Wages for Housework Campaign & Selma James
For more information contact: Global Women’s Strike (India, Ireland, Peru, Thailand, UK, US) +44 20 7482 2496 or +1 215 848 1120
The Global Women’s
Strike and Women of Colour GWS, which have campaigned for financial
recognition for unwaged caring work for decades, have joined with theGreen
New Deal for Europeto urge governments everywhere to provide a Care
Income, starting now. This would prioritize and support the work of all
those, of every gender, who care for people, for the urban and rural
environment, and for the natural world. (This Care Income is quite different
from the universal basic income which prioritizes neither caring work nor the
So far organizations and
individuals from 33 countries, South and North – women’s, human rights
defenders, environmentalists, domestic workers, subsistence farmers, disabled
people, breastfeeding advocates, anti-rape, anti-deportation, sex workers… have
endorsed the Open Letter to Governments.
The drastic measures in
response to Covid-19 show that governments can take swift action and find money
to deal with “emergencies” – if they want to. But, while they propose to
replace some lost wages, there is no relief package for caregivers, only
Everyone can now see how dependent we all are on
caring work – in the home, the hospital, the community. Yet this invaluable work,
typically performed by women, is mostly unwaged. When waged, it is usually the lowest
paid, reflecting the low status governments and corporations place on those
who do it, and on the lives and needs of most of those we care for.
Almost 70% of
healthcare workers around the world are women.
They and other “key workers” risk their own lives to keep people alive in hospitals
and care homes, and to see that everyone has access to food and other
essentials, in rural and urban areas. For example, of three million people in “high exposure” jobs in the UK– 77% are women and one third (98% women)
earn “poverty wages”. A large percentage are on temporary or zero-hours
contracts, and are disproportionately people of colour and/or immigrant,
often denied services and resources available to others.
But why did it take Covid-19 to get governments to act
when we already face a climate emergency as well as growing poverty and inequality,
rape and domestic violence, war and displacement on an epidemic scale? If this pandemic
teaches anything it is that we cannot go back to economic and social
priorities that destroy people and the planet we depend on. The lockdowns are
reducing air pollution (which kills an estimated seven million people
annually worldwide) and
making way for the natural world. We must
build on that, not return to the mindless growth that pays us to do work that
pollutes and threatens our very survival.
We urge you to report and
circulate this vital demand.
Shoda Rackal and Kay Chapman ahead of the Crossroads Women’s Centre’s International Women’s Day celebration. Picture: Crossroads Women’s Centre
The Kentish Town-based Global Women’s Strike (GWS) group have written an open letter to the UK government – and others around the world – calling for a “care income” to be instituted to protect the, often predominantly female, care workforce amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In collaboration with the Green New Deal for Europe group, GWS have called for “the indispensable work of life and survival” to be recognised.
Kay Chapman and SHoda Rackal from GWS, which runs out of the Crossroads Womens’ Centre, said: “As mothers, we know that every day and in every emergency women are called on to protect and care for everyone.
“With this pandemic all can see how dependent the whole population is on caring work – at home, in care homes, in the NHS. Despite billions promised to keep the economy functioning, there is no relief package for mothers and other carers, only more work.”
Please join us for a webinar
exploring the implications of a campaign for a Care Income, North and South,to stop climate change, promote caring work for people and planet, and
refuse work that is destructive to the environment and to the worker.
Chaired by Margaret Prescod, Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike
(GWS) Selma James, GWS, London Stefania Barca & Giacomo D’Alisa, Green New Deal for Europe, Italy/Portugal Sam Weinstein, trade unionist, Payday men’s network, UK/US Solveig Francis,breastfeeding advocate, London Pranom Somwong, Protection International, Thailand
Followed by questions and discussion: what payments and support the
State has been forced to give in response to the COVID-19 crisis in different
countries, and how the demand for a Care Income has entered campaigning to
change the world and save it.
We write to ask that your
organization endorse the Open letter to
governments – A Care Income Now! If
you are not a member of an organization or are unable to confirm your
organization’s endorsement, of course personal endorsements are also welcome.
The Open Letter is jointly issued by the Global Women’s Strike, Women of
Colour GWS and the Green New Deal for Europe (GNDE).
The next online webinar will
be on the Care Income Now! global campaign and is scheduled for Friday
April 3 at 8am PDT (Pacific Daylight Time), 4pm (UK time),
10pm (Thailand time). It will include discussion on the
implications of a Care Income for the environment, unwaged and waged work, and
how we can use it in our campaigning to change the world and save it. Register here.
The Open Letter is
being translated into a number of languages which will shortly be available on
day and in every emergency, unwaged or low waged caregivers, urban and rural,
mostly women, often immigrant women, struggle to protect and care for people of
every age and condition. But this work is kept invisible and therefore there is never a relief package from
governments for caregivers, only more work,
especially with the advent of Covid-19.
In 1980, the ILO estimated
that women did 2/3 of the world’s work for 5% of its income. Today women and girls do more than three-quarters of all unpaid
care work – a total of 12.5 billion
hours a day.
coronavirus pandemic came on top of the climate pandemic, the poverty pandemic,
the war pandemic and the rape and domestic violence pandemics which have hit
single mother families, ill, disabled and older people hardest. It is exposing weaknesses in our ability to resist
and survive physically and financially – from immune systems already
compromised by poverty, discrimination, pollution, war, occupation,
displacement and other violence to inadequate healthcare and inadequate
incomes, especially in the Global South, in communities of colour in the North,
and among refugees everywhere.
In response to the virus,
country after country has been shut down – from workplaces to schools and
transport – and proposals to replace lost wages are being debated. These
drastic measures show that governments can take
swift action and find money to deal with “emergencies” – if they want to.
At this critical moment, we must insist collectively on what we need. We fear
that governments may use increased emergency powers to transfer wealth from
taxpayers to corporations, and even impose further controls, surveillance and
restrictions on our movements and our lives well after this pandemic is over.
The market values unwaged
work at $10.8 trillion but never suggests that women should get any of it.
Instead we are advised to get an education and a better paid job. We of course
have a right to that. But it does not deal with the
indispensable work of life and survival –
from breastfeeding to elder care. Only increasing the status, power and income
of caregivers can do that.
In the 80s, the Women Count – Count Women’s Work petition issued by the International Wages for
Housework Campaign gave voice of a hidden mass movement for recognition of this
work. It was signed by 1,200 organizations representing millions of women
worldwide, resulting in the 1995 UN decision that governments measure and value
unwaged work in national accounts.
The Green New Deal for Europe takes
this forward. It looks at what work is needed for social and environmental
wellbeing, and what work is not, and proposes a Care Income as a key part of
its programme for climate justice. At last protecting people and
protecting the Earth can be equated and prioritized over the uncaring market –
a major step in transforming the world and saving it. We need this everywhere.
demand a CARE INCOME across the planet for all those, of every gender, who care
for people, the urban and rural environment, and the natural world.
Invitation to a Webinar From Coronavirus and Beyond Valuing Caregiving — the Unwaged Work that Protects People and the Environment. The workshop we planned for the 64th UN Commission on the Status of Women has even more urgency now as the global pandemic has exposed how central caregiving is to life and survival, and how much caregivers are relied on for services governments are not providing. But where is the relief package for caregivers? We hope you can join in the webinar and follow us at: #careincomenow
Selma James – founder of the Intl Wages for Housework Campaign and coordinator of the Global Women’s Strike from London; Liz Hilton, Empower (Thailand); Leddy Mozombite, Domestic Workers Federation and Global Women’s Strike (Peru); Peggy O’Mara, former editor of Mothering Magazine; Margaret Prescod, Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike and Intl Black Women for Wages for Housework; Rev Liz Theoharis, joint coordinator Poor People’s Campaign – A National Call for Moral Revival and the Kairos Center; Chaired by Phoebe Jones, Women in Dialogue. Q&A to follow the presentations.
The Webinar aims to discuss and gather support for ● global implementation of measuring & valuing unwaged caregiving work, including the impact of COVID-19 on caregivers’ work ● accessing resources for survival and beyond – free healthcare, paid maternity leave, benefits, piped water & more for this work which is central to combating poverty & climate change ● campaigning for a Care Income for all caring for people, communities & the environment (Green New Deal for Europe, 2019).
Additional sponsors: Every Mother is a Working Mother Network, Global Women’s Strike, Intl Prostitutes Collective, Empower, Women Against Rape, Queerstrike, WinVisible, Payday men’s network.
A disabled woman’s tribunal victory has given hope to claimants who cannot take part in face-to-face benefit assessments for impairment, health, or trauma-related reasons, but then have their claims ended by the government for “failure to attend” their appointments.
Jane* spent two years fighting for her benefits to be reinstated, with support from the grassroots group WinVisible** and the charity Child Poverty Action Group, before the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) conceded defeat at the upper tribunal.
WinVisible said disabled people who cannot attend face-to-face assessments for health reasons or after surviving trauma or even abuse or sexual violence had become “easy targets” for DWP.
Among those claimants WinVisible has helped is a cancer patient who missed four assessment dates while struggling to cope with her diagnosis and clashing NHS appointments.
It has also highlighted Jane’s case.
She is an older woman, from the East Midlands, who has been disabled for 40 years and was previously claiming the highest rates of disability living allowance.
She had been receiving DLA since its introduction in 1992 until she had it suddenly removed by DWP in March 2018 for “failure to attend” a face-to-face assessment, after she was reassessed as part of the introduction of the new personal independence payment (PIP).
Her request for a home visit in the afternoon so she could prepare for the assessment was refused by the outsourcing company Capita.
Then her request for the assessment to be carried out on paper – because of the anxiety the process was causing her – was refused.
She had her benefits cut off after a failure to agree a suitable appointment time.
When she appealed but was unable to attend the tribunal for impairment-related reasons, she was branded “un-cooperative” by the tribunal panel, which rubber-stamped the DWP decision.
She was left with no disability benefits and unable to leave the house without someone to push her manual wheelchair. She also passed the age of 65, and so had to apply for attendance allowance, which has no mobility component.
She would have given up the fight if she had not come across WinVisible when searching online for help.
WinVisible secured support from CPAG’s upper tribunal project, which works with smaller organisations taking appeals to the upper tribunal.
Months of legal discussions, overseen by a tribunal judge, eventually saw DWP concede defeat, and agree that a fresh PIP claim could be decided only on paperwork, with the help of further medical evidence gathered by WinVisible.
The judge has now approved a “consent order”, which has seen DWP agree to award Jane the enhanced rate of PIP indefinitely – both for daily living and mobility – as well as more than £10,500 in backdated payments.
Claire Glasman (pictured, front left, speaking), from WinVisible, said: “‘Failure to attend’ is a big issue for sick, severely disabled and traumatised claimants, such as survivors of abuse and sexual violence being assessed by strangers.
“And those of us who are immigrant and refugee women face racism, where psychiatric reports about trauma are dismissed.”
“We are easy targets for the DWP to dismiss our claims in this way. As disabled claimants, we are expected to accept needless and stressful reassessments, and appointments at any time, even 9am on a Sunday morning.”
She pointed out that Jodey Whiting, who took her own life in February 2017 after being wrongly found “fit for work” following a missed work capability assessment, also lost her benefits because of a “failure to attend” decision by DWP officials.
Glasman said changes to the system were promised to Whiting’s mother, Joy Dove, but instead the system was “getting worse”.
She said: “Most services tell people to comply with the current system and are judgemental against women.
“Compliance includes routinely attending exams and interviews when asked.”
She said WinVisible was instead providing information and support for disabled women to fight their cases, highlighting the discrimination in the system, and pointing out that exemptions from “stressful” face-to-face interviews are provided for in regulations and DWP guidance.
She said: “We also try to overcome the indifference, bureaucracy and delay which exhausts sick and disabled people into giving up, by asking MPs and senior officials to intervene.”
Glasman added: “Disabled people, and disabled women especially who are dealing with added issues such as domestic violence and caring responsibilities, feel very strongly that the benefits system should not treat us like malingerers and scroungers, and should respect our rights.”
DWP declined to comment on Jane’s case.
*Not her real name
**WinVisible is based in London but is often contacted by disabled women across England, Scotland and Wales, and welcomes volunteers, with its casework and advocacy financially supported by the Oak Foundation and the National Lottery Community Fund
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We demand a living wage for mothers and other carers because:
· Every worker is entitled to a living wage. Women do 2/3 of the world’s work – in the home, on the land and in the community – but most of this work is unwaged.
· Women are the primary carers everywhere in the world, fighting for the survival and well-being of children and sick, disabled and elderly people, in the home and outside, in peace as in war. Women grow most of the world’s food.
· Most carers, starting with mothers, get no wages and aren’t considered workers.
· Many carers are themselves disabled; many are children caring for younger ones or for their disabled parents; many are grandparents leaving retirement to care for their children’s children.
· Caring is demanding work but the skills it requires are undervalued even in the job market – domestic work, homecare, childcare and even nursing are low paid.
· Valuing caring work would help to close the income gap between women and men. It would also draw more men into caring.
· Financial dependence when caring work is unwaged often traps women in violent relationships.
· Many mothers do several jobs and have to fit time with their children around their job – this is exhausting and stressful for all.
· When mothers are impoverished and overworked, children suffer: hunger, ill-health, violence and exploitation.
· Mothers who have to return to other work soon after childbirth are less likely to breastfeed.
· Workers who take time off to care for children or other loved ones, lose pay, promotion, social security and future pension.
· Devaluing caring work devalues people, relationships and life itself.
· Investing in carers redirects economic and social policies towards survival, health and well-being – for every individual and for the planet which sustains us all.
Caring for others is the foundation of every society, yet this work, done mostly by women, is devalued and underfunded.We demand that:1. Every worker be paid a living wage, including mothers and other carers.
2. National and international budgets redirect financial support and resources to mothers and other carers.
Sponsored by: Every Mother is a Working Mother Coalition (US) ● International Wages for Housework Campaign ● Military Families Speak Out (US) ● Nawa Chhattisgarh Mahila Samiti (India) ● Payday men’s network ● Federacion Sindical de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores del Hogar (Peru) ● Single Mothers’ Self-Defence ● Welfare Warriors (US) ● WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)
UK endorsers (June 2015): All African Women’s Group ● Black Women’s Rape Action Project ● Brighton Feminist Collective ● Caribbean Labour Solidarity ● Christopher Alder Family Campaign ● Disabled People Against Cuts ● English Collective of Prostitutes ● Food for All (Camden) ● Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition Against Cuts ● Independent Catholic News ● International Women Count Network ● Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group ● Lactation Consultants GB ● Legal Action for Women ● London Socialist Film Co-op ● Mammas Community Breastfeeding Support Project ● Mothers at Home Matter ● Queer Strike ● Scottish Kinship Care Alliance ● Scottish Prostitute Education Project (SCOTPEP) ● Sex Worker Open University ● Taxpayers Against Poverty ● Women Against Rape ● x:talk
Some prominent individuals: Mumia Abu-Jamal ● Melissa Benn ● Joanna Biggs ● Julia Bradley ● Margaret Busby ● Bob Crow ● Greg Foxsmith ● David Graber ● Eric Huntley ● Selma James ● Bruce Kent ● Sheila Kitzinger ● Ken Loach ● John McDonnell MP ● Martina Navratilova ● Trenton Oldfield ● Susie Orbach ● Gareth Peirce ● Greg Philo (Glasgow Media Group) ● Kate Pickett ● Dame Philippa Russell, Chair Standing Commission on Carers ● Christina Sammoutis ● Emma Thompson ● Vivienne Westwood ● Zoe Williams ● Walter Wolfgang ● Richard Wilkinson ● Matt Wrack
21.6% of US children live in poverty, more than in any other major industrialized country.
Mothers are the primary caregivers everywhere in the world, working to ensure the survival and wellbeing of children, families and communities.
Instead of recognition and support, mothers (and others with primary care responsibilities) are deprived of income and resources for this work.
Since Welfare Reform (TANF) was introduced in 1996, mothers must do unpaid work to ‘earn’ their benefits (Workfare).
Wealthy mothers can choose to raise their children full-time, mothers on Workfare must leave their children, even without childcare, or lose their benefits.
Workfare bypasses the minimum wage and drives down all wages, especially women’s, increasing the wage gap between women and men.
When mothers’ caregiving work is devalued, the children being cared for are devalued.
Only 36% of welfare money now goes to support families; the rest goes to state bureaucracy, and to remove children from their low-income mothers.
Breastfeeding among welfare mothers has decreased by 22%, and in Wisconsin, the first to introduce Welfare Reform, infant mortality has increased by 11%, and by 37% in Milwaukee’s African American community.
Therefore we the undersigned:
REAFFIRM that every mother is a working mother, and every child is precious; and
URGE the US Congress to pass and implement the Rise Out of Poverty Act (RISE Act H.R. 3486) and to reintroduce and pass the Women’s Option to Raise Kids Act (WORK Act was introduced by Pete Stark D-CA no longer in Congress) so that welfare policy:
Prioritizes the elimination of child poverty.
Enables mothers and other caregivers to choose to raise their children full-time up to the age of three without having to take another job.
Initiated by: Global Women’s Strike ● Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike ● Every Mother is a Working Mother Network
Sponsored by: Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), Benton Harbor, MI ● Bonnie Atwood, Richmond, VA ● Bonnie Macri, Salt Lake City, Utah ● DHS/DCFS – Give Us Back Our Children/Southern California & Philadelphia ● Energy Rescue, Omaha, NE ● Every Mother is a Working Mother Network/Philadelphia & Southern CA ● Family Advocacy Movement, Omaha, NE ● Family Connection Center, Cleveland, OH ● Fight for Lifers West ● Global Women’s Strike, Guyana, UK, US ● Georgia Citizens Coalition on Hunger, Atlanta, GA ● Human Rights Coalition – Fed-Up, Pittsburgh ● International Women Count Network/Breastfeeding Network, UK & US ● Legal Action for Women, London, England ● Massachusetts Welfare Rights Union, Mattapan, MA ● Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Detroit, MI ● Military Families Speak Out/Southern California ● National Welfare Rights Union, Detroit, MI ● New Life Career Center, Hempstead, Long Island, NY ● Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights (POWER), Olympia, WA ● Payday Men’s Network, UK, US ● Queer Strike/UK and US ● Red Thread, Guyana, South America ● Shauna Gunderson, Santa Cruz, CA ● Single Mothers’ Self Defense, London, England ● Survival News, Boston, MA ● Survivors, Inc., Boston, MA ● US PROStitutes Collective/San Francisco, CA ● Welfare Warriors MaGoD (Mothers and Grandmothers of the Disappeared Children), Milwaukee, WI ● WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)/UK & US ● Women for Economic Justice Coalition (WEJ), Oakland, CA ● Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike/ UK & US
Endorsers so far: Bay Area Sex Worker Advocacy Network; Brandywine Peace Community; BuxMont Coalition for Peace Action; ; Causa Justa::Just Cause; The Charles Foundation; Chester County Peace Movement Chapter of Coalition for Peace Action; Class Action; Coalition for Peace Action/Princeton; Connecticut Coalition for Peace & Justice; Thomas Paine Cronin, Retired President of AFSCME D.C. 47; Dallas 6 Campaign, PA; Peter Edelman, Georgetown Law; F*WORD (Feminists Working on Real Democracy), a project of the Resource Center for Nonviolence, Santa Cruz, CA; Paul Glover, Green Party Candidate for Governor of PA; Frances Goldin, literary agent, housing activist; John Grant, journalist, Veterans for Peace/Phila area (identification purposes only); Greater New Haven Peace Council; Immortal Technique, Peruvian born American rapper & urban activist; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network; Greg Kaufmann, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress; Felicia Kornbluh, University of Vermont; PA State Senator Daylin Leach; Main Line Peace Action; Massachusetts Peace Action; Mass Incarceration Working Group, Germantown Friends Meeting; Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club; Montgomery County Peace Action, Maryland; Montgomery County, PA Chapter of the Green Party; The Mosaic Project; Mumia Abu-Jamal; Musicians & Fine Artists for World Peace; National Peace Action; Nebraskans for Peace; New Hampshire Peace Action; No Nukes No War; North Country Peace Group; NOW Philadelphia Branch; Oregon PeaceWorks; Annelise Orleck, Dartmouth University; Parkhouse Studios; Pax Christi Florida; Pax Christi USA; Peace Action West; Peace Action Wisconsin; Peacehome Campaigns; Peace House of Oklahoma; Peak Women, Santa Cruz, CA; Philly Collaborative for Reproductive Justice & Support (PCRJS); Frances Fox Piven; Project for Nuclear Awareness; Queer Student Union, Prescott College; Resource Generation; Dorothy Roberts, University of Pennsylvania; Crystal Sanders, Pennsylvania State University; Cindy Sheehan, Peace and Freedom Party candidate for Governor of CA; Sin Barras, Santa Cruz, CA; Statewide Parent Advocacy Network; Stop Targeting Ohio’s Poor; Students of Color Organizing Against Racism (SCOR), Prescott College; Suffolk Peace Network; Swarthmore Labor Action Project; Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, Professor of African American Studies & History, Temple University; Veterans for Peace/San Francisco; Voices of Women Organizing Project; Cornell West, Princeton professor, activist; Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom/Santa Cruz; Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom – US Section; Women Trans Prisoner Defense Committee, Pittsburgh
Return printed petitions to: PO Box 11795, Phila., PA 19101