Women’s Day Past

International women’s day commemorates, among other things, the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York. Same town, six years later, women were on the barricades again. America’s support in the first world war extended to selling food to Europe. This drove up prices. Women organised. Unable to use traditional democratic channels (the nineteenth amendment wasn’t passed until 1920), they used street democracy. One protester, at an East Side Jewish Women’s League protest put it like this: “with $14 a week we used to just make a living. With prices as they are now, we could not even live on $2 a day. We would just exist.” It’s a sentiment that would be all too familiar to women surviving today’s price rises.

It’s a long road ahead.