All of our solidarity to the powerful, inspiring and strong feminist warriors that build our movements and resistance today. Happy International women’s day!
As a union, we fight for decent, affordable, and secure housing. And that’s only the starting point. We want our homes to be a space in which to lead a dignified life free from oppression. However, our homes are not protected from the challenges of everyday life – capitalism, racism, and patriarchy still overwhelmingly impact those of us who are not men and this is intimately tied up with our housing struggles. Rather than being a space of security and stability, our homes are tainted by these structures.
We keep the country running and we bear the brunt of austerity especially those of us who are parents as we face with rising childcare costs on top of rents, whilst our wages stagnate or decline and the pay gap remains. High rents and the chronic lack of council housing traps too many of us in abusive relationships, or limit options for safe housing when we’re threatened with eviction. ‘Sex-for-rent’ advertisements continue to try to exploit us as a form of modern-day slavery, which is just a damning indictment of our housing crisis. Such experiences threaten or remove our fundamental right to shelter. They also take away our links to community, to networks of support, or vital services such as healthcare and education. They eat away at our capacity for resistance and make us feel like there is no where we can just be. We know that our gender isn’t the only thing that defines our experience. If we are people of colour, if we are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, if we are migrants, if we have a disability, this only gets harder. Our feminism and our organising efforts are not single-issue movements because we do not live single-issue lives. We are defending the right to decent houses and safe homes for everyone and we will not be divided.
We stand in the proud and long tradition of women who are seeking to protect their homes. From the rent strikes in Glasgow in 1915, to the Focus E15 movement, women’s stories are not only some of the most prevalent in fighting for housing justice, but some of the most successful. We speak to each other, we organise our communities, we mourn together, we gather in community centres and around cups of tea, and we fight back against the sheriff officers and the rent collectors when they knock on our doors. In addition, we do the work of the union, we’re the chairs, secretaries, treasurers, and minute-takers who make these more public expressions of resistance possible. Without us, there would be no movement.
The work of our women members and staff who fight tirelessly for the betterment of our homes is not just something that we recognise today, but something we celebrate all year round. Care and co-operation bind us together, and it’s something that will continue to be paramount to our success as an organisation.
‘We’ve come a long way, baby…. Power to the sisters and therefore to the class’ – Selma James, 1972