About

Wages for Housework and the Global Women’s Strike

We are an international grassroots network campaigning for recognition and payment for all caring work, in the home and outside. Mothers and other carers are entitled to a living wage – in cash, land, non-polluting technology…

Corporate greed and military conquest are impoverishing us, destroying the climate and the world. We campaign for a caring economy where human beings and all life are central, not a means to an end.

We campaign to end power relations of sex, race, class, income, nation, immigration status, city and countryside, age, disability, occupation, gender identity, North and South … (See organisations part of GWS.) We work with Payday, a network of men who share our aims.

From WFH to GWS – a brief history

1972 – International Wages for Housework Campaign founded by Selma James, following publication of A Woman’s Place (1952), The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community (co-author 1972), Women, the Unions and Work (1972), Sex, Race and Class (1973).

1972 – Family Allowance Campaign stops government in UK transfering mothers’ money to men.

1974 – First autonomous organisation: Wages Due Lesbians (now Queer Strike).

1975 – First international conference (London). First women’s centre opens (later called Crossroads).

1977 – Black Women for Wages for Housework organises with US welfare mothers for welfare to be called a ‘wage’, delaying cuts and workfare.

1980 – Women do 2/3 of the world’s work for 5% of the income (ILO). We mobilise for UN to agree to measure & value unwaged work (‘in the home, on the land & in the community’) in national accounts. Women worldwide sign our Women Count – Count Women’s Work petition. We win #120 (Nairobi 1985) and #206 (Beijing 1995).

1985 – Time Off for Women celebrates anniversary of Iceland women’s Day Off (1975).

1999 – We call a GLOBAL WOMEN’S STRIKE for 8 March 2000 after Irish women ask for support. Many countries take part – the name takes root. Our slogan: Invest in caring, not killing.

2000 – Launch of Pay Equity petition.

2015 – Launch of international petition: A living wage for mothers and other carers.

2017 – We take part in International Women’s Strike.

2019 – Caring for people and planet is prioritised by the climate justice movement.  The draft Green New Deal for Europe calls for a Care Income for this work, formal or informal.

A DEMAND,  A PERSPECTIVE, A WAY OF ORGANISING

In 1972 Selma James coined the word ‘unwaged’ to describe the reproductive caring work that women do; it entered the English language. (We later found it had once been used in the 19th century.)

Wages for Housework begins with those of us with least power internationally – unwaged workers in the home (mothers, housewives, domestic workers denied pay), and unwaged workers on the land and in the community.

Wages for Housework is a demand, it is also a perspective, a way of organising from the bottom up, of autonomous sectors working together to end the power relations among us – a ‘fusion’ (to use the US Poor People’s Campaign word).

WFH/GWS is the collective endeavour of the autonomous organisations formed since 1974 and their campaigns. Antiracism, anti-discrimination, and the justice work we do for ourselves and with others are at the heart of our campaigning.

INVEST IN CARING NOT KILLING

The caring work women do produces and reproduces the workforce, in fact the whole human race. It should be a source of power for women. Instead it is used to exploit and impoverish us.

To escape poverty and financial dependence,
women have fought to enter jobs and careers previously reserved for men. Some have risen in the capitalist hierarchy but most have not, especially mothers, so we are still the poorer sex.

And the status of caring work – vital to survival and wellbeing – has hardly changed. It is still unpaid or low paid. Some of the financial recognition mothers had won – welfare, Family Allowance / Child Benefit, Income Support has been rolled back.

A LIVING WAGE FOR MOTHERS and OTHER CARERS

Our demand for a living wage for mothers and other carers presumes that human beings and all life on earth must become the aim of every policy and development. It is an anticapitalst perspective.  Climate justice campaigners are now now calling for a Care Income for those doing the work of caring for people and planet.

AUTONOMOUS ORGANISATIONS

Each has its own constituency and campaigns.
Each can count on the collective power of all.

ENGLISH COLLECTIVE OF PROSTITUTES (ECP)
and US PROSTITUTES COLLECTIVE (US PROS)

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN COUNT NETWORK

PAYDAY MEN’S NETWORK / REFUSING TO KILL

QUEER STRIKE – lesbian, bi, trans (formerly Wages Due Lesbians)

SINGLE MOTHERS’ SELF-DEFENCE

WINVISIBLE – women with visible and invisible disabilities

WOMEN OF COLOUR in GWS (formerly Black Women for Wages for Housework)

Campaigns include:

ending poverty, welfare cuts, detention, deportation / a living wage for all carers / domestic workers’ rights / pay equity / justice for survivors of rape and domestic violence / challenging racism, disability racism, queer discrimination, transphobia / decriminalising sex work / stopping the state taking children from their mothers / opposing apartheid, war, genocide, military occupation, corporate land grabs / supporting human rights defenders, refuseniks / ending the death penalty and solitary confinement … all are fighting for climate justice and survival.

Our caring perspective informs others based at Crossroads Women’s Centre:

ALL AFRICAN WOMEN’S GROUP

BLACK WOMEN’S RAPE ACTION PROJECT

GLOBAL WOMEN AGAINST DEPORTATION

LEGAL ACTION FOR WOMEN

SUPPORT NOT SEPARATION

THE MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS

VITAL FORCES

WOMEN AGAINST RAPE

Contact us

There are GWS groups in India, Peru, Thailand, UK, US (Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco) and we work with people in many other countries.

Address in the UK: Crossroads Women‘s Centre, 25 Wolsey Mews, London NW5 2DX.
020 7482 2496
gws@globalwomenstrike.net
@WomenStrike
facebook.com/GlobalWomenStrike