Amid the flowers and chocolates descending on mothers this weekend, on Saturday 14 March 2-5pm the Global Women’s Strike (GWS) and Women of Colour in the GWS will Honour Mothers, Honour All Carers by launching an international petition A Living Wage for Mothers and Other Carers.
Endorsements have been pouring in. The latest from Dame Philippa Russell, Chair of the Standing Commission on Carers since 2007. Referring to a living wage for mothers and other carers, she said: “It’s a cause very dear to my heart!” The Commission is an independent advisory body providing expert advice to ministers and the Carers Strategy Cross Government Board.
Tennis champion Martina Navratilova, actress/writer Sarah Solemani, John McDonnell MP, natural childbirth author Sheila Kitzinger, solicitor Gareth Peirce have also signed, as have those below.
In the UK the petition has already been endorsed by Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities) and Payday men’s network as well as Melissa Benn, Black Women’s Rape Action Project, Brighton Feminist Collective, Bruce Kent, Caribbean Labour Solidarity, Disabled People Against Cuts, English Collective of Prostitutes, Food for All (Camden), Sheila Kitzinger, solicitor Gareth Peirce, Greg Philo (Glasgow Media Group), Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition Against Cuts, Independent Catholic News, John McDonnell MP, Martina Navratilova, 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, Dame Philippa Russell (chair, Standing Commission on Carers), Queer Strike, Scottish Prostitute Education Project (SCOTPEP), Sex Worker Open University, actress/writer Sarah Solemani, Taxpayers Against Poverty, Women Against Rape, x:talk. The late RMT general secretary Bob Crow signed an earlier version.
An Exhibition featuring prominent women who fought for survival, justice and well-being will be followed by a Community Speak Out at the Crossroads Women’s Centre to which all are invited to take part and bring a photo of the woman they want to honour. First to be honoured: Eleanor Rathbone who campaigned for decades to win Family Allowance for all mothers (renamed Child Benefit) in 1946 as part of the Welfare State. See list of women honoured here.
GWS co-ordinator Selma James says: “Investing in caring work would help to close the income gap between women and men. It would draw more men into caring. It would redirect economic and social policies towards survival, health and well-being – for every individual and for the planet which sustains us all.”
As the general election looms, women voters are being courted and in some constituencies our votes may be a deciding factor. But what’s not in the news is what many of us women want: financial support for the fundamental caring work mothers and other carers do for society. Austerity has disproportionately hit women and children. Earnings have dropped, particularly for care workers on zero-hour contracts. The caring work mothers and other women do at home is not valued. When we go out to a job, it is often more caring work, this time undervalued and low paid. And while those of us who are immigrants are scapegoated by politicians, especially before elections, we do some of the lowest paid caring jobs and keep the NHS going.
The campaign for a living wage is on various political manifestos. But mothers and other family carers are left out. That’s why GWS is launching an international petition calling for every worker, including mothers and other carers, to be paid a living wage. (www.globalwomenstrike.net).
A dozen local businesses in Kentish Town have kindly stepped forward with donations and offers of services to women to be raffled at the Honour Mothers, Honour All Carers event on Saturday 14 March. They include several local cafes offering meal vouchers up to £20, two hair salons offering free wash and cut, a book voucher and several shopping vouchers.
The petition has already been launched in the US and will be launched in other countries, including India, Ireland and Peru, later this month.