Old angry activists take the streets of Belgium on the International Women’s Rights Day

Source : Age-Platform Europe Monday 11 March 2019

For the first time in Belgium, women were going on strike on 8 March, the International Day of Women’s Rights, to send the message that « if women stop, the world stops ». Far from being restricted to paid work, the strike and protest that followed gathered salaried women, job-seekers, students, self-employed, farmers, workers in the informal economy… as well as older women!

The group of older activits « le Gang des Vieux en Colère » would have never missed this opportunity to bring to the fore the inequalities lived by older women: 150 older activists were in Brussels on 8th March afternoon, dressed up with bright colors, to make their call for equal pensions heard. As a result of career breaks and gender pay gaps in the labour market, women’s pensions in Belgium are still 28% lower than their male counterparts’.

An inequality that the “Collecti.e.f 8 maars” organising the strike and the march had not forgotten in the list of claims chanted in the streets of Belgium on 8th March:

  • Enough of wage inequality, late pensions and pensions next to nothing.
  • Enough of lack of child care centers, retirement homes and accommodation and care facilities putting a collective responsibility exclusively on women’s shoulders.
  • Enough of being the only ones to be in charge of the day-to-day domestic work and care.
  • Enough of being told how to live our sexuality, our connection to motherhood, birth control and abortion. Enough of being told how to manage our body and life.

The « Gang » was not new to this kind of public protest. Since its creation back in 2018, the older activists made a name for themselves by using techniques of civil disobidience to raise awareness of the precariousness and poverty experienced a substantial share of older Belgians. One of their ‘gangsters’, the 70 year old director Mirko Popovitch recalls that among the 2 million retired Belgians, 200.000 are living below the poverty line.

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