Rome women strike for International Women’s Day

International Women's Day protests Wednesday in Rome

 ROME-- A Day Without Women -- the capital participated Wednesday in a strike initiative, which took place worldwide for International Women’s Day. The demonstrations snarled up traffic in the Eternal City until late in the evening as public transport services closed down for much of the day in apparent sympathy with the agitation by Roman women.

 Italian President Sergio Mattarella opened proceedings at the Quirinal Palace by thanking women for their tireless efforts to make society a more equal and accepting place; and recognising the ‘unfathomable obstacles and prejudices’ that women are faced with on a daily basis.

 This year the aim of the day was to promote peace, and recognise the need for it in today’s turbulent political environment. 40 other countries participated in this global strike, which had the aim of galvanising women from various cross-sections of society to take action and emphasise women’s value in society. In Rome various trade unions responded to this call to strike and as such announced a 24-hour strike affecting local transport, schools and healthcare. The women workers at Almaviva organised protests against unfair dismissal, as well as leading a demonstration, which left from the Colosseum and ended in Trastevere. There were also various alternative strikes such as work-to-rule initiatives and wearing red to commemorate the day.

 Before the day’s proceedings began, support was expected from the more left wing parties, while elsewhere various criticisms were being voiced. The education minister, Valeria Fedeli, for example argued that the strike undervalued the important progress government had made with regards to anti-violence initiatives. The undersecretary Sesa Amici also saw the strike as counterproductive, as by grounding public transport, women’s mobility and freedom of movement was seriously limited.

 In spite of the controversy of the day, celebrations were set to take place as usual at the Quirinal Palace, and on an even greater scale than in previous years. Indeed, the tradition of holding branches of mimosa, according to the florists’ calculations, was even more prevalent this year, with sales of the branches reaching 12 million, significantly higher than figures last year.