Today marks the 6th anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, where over 1,000 people were killed and over 2,500 wounded while working in a textile factory under inhumane conditions. An overwhelming majority of the victims were women. Rana Plaza is the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry worldwide.
As we continue our Earth Day Celebrations this week and plan for our May Day actions next week, it is important that we not only remember the Rana Plaza disaster, we must also use these public opportunities to name the intersections of our struggles and movements. The Rana Plaza disaster exemplifies the intersections of systems of oppression that we are fighting against: neoliberal capitalism and patriarchy. These systems oppress women and people of color globally and exacerbate climate change. The Rana Plaza disaster is also an example of how women’s labor is not only undervalued, but an exploited and assumed component of the dominant economy, without any visibility. When disasters like Rana Plaza force the world to see the reproductive labor economy and the extreme exploitation of this labor sector, neoliberal governments, capitalism, and the mainstream media bury these stories and expect us to forget them and continue consuming and exploiting this massive labor force.
As our struggles for liveable wages continue, it is important to remember the labor force that is often forgotten and unseen: Farm workers, domestic workers, child care providers, home health aides, prison labor, and the reproductive care labor that is a necessary part of life, but is not considered part of the labor force. This work is often gendered and relegated to women and femmes. This work is crucial to the survival of the mainstream, or visible economy. The fact that this labor is unpaid or underpaid under capitalism, contributes to its invisibility. The struggle for livable wages, and for jobs with dignity is a grassroots feminist struggle.
As the US chapter of the global feminist action movement, the World March of Women, we share this statement denouncing the neoliberal policies that value profit over people and the planet, which led to this disaster…
“We denounce the alliance of governments and the far right with Transnational Corporations. These continuously impose austerity policies that are sustained by women’s work, mitigating the effects of lower wages and lack of public investment in rights and services. These policies lead to more poverty and precarity for working-class people, more violence against women and the increase of racism and xenophobia…We reassert that women’s work counts, and is an integral and fundamental part of the system that generates and sustains life in harmony with nature.”
Read the full statement HERE.
In honor of those who do the reproductive labor and in honor of all the women capitalism wants us to forget… we remember Rana Plaza and continue to fight until all of us are free!
Please repost GGJ’s social media postings about today’s anniversary with the hashtags #RanaPlazaIsEverywhere #JobsWithDignity and #Grassroots Feminism