Friday, October 26, 2007

Selma James, Widow of CLR James, to Tour the US in November

For Immediate Release

Pathbreaking Movement Theorist and Activist Selma James to Tour in November

Available for Interviews

The tour marks the 35th anniversary of the International Wages for Housework Campaign, which Selma James founded. It has been organized in response to requests from anti-sexist, anti-racist and anti-war women as well as men in North America who want to hear her and meet with her. Ms. James will be joined on the tour by Andaiye, from Red Thread in Guyana. Please see information about Andaiye below.


Phoebe Jones, Global Women's Strike, 215-848-1120 or 610-505-4944

October 24 — Selma James, movement strategist and lifelong campaigner for women’s rights and anti-racism, will embark on a North American speaking tour in November to mark the 35th anniversary of the International Wages for Housework Campaign which she founded in 1972.

James – who was for many years the colleague and wife of influential Marxist organizer, historian and critic CLR James – currently coordinates the Global Women's Strike GWS website , and works closely with grassroots women in the Venezuelan Revolution. She will be speaking on a range of topics to universities, community groups and churches in Arcata CA, Atlanta, Detroit, Flagstaff, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland OR, San Francisco, Western MA and Toronto, Canada, and will be available for advance interviews starting on November 7.

James is known as a dynamic speaker who impresses audiences with the depth of her understanding and the scope of her interests. Since she wrote the classic A Woman’s Place in 1952 as part of CLR James’s Johnson-Forest Tendency, to the early 1970s with the publication of The Power of Women and Subversion of the Community when she spelled out how the function of domestic or "caring" work is basic to creation of the world’s labor force and the perpetuation of the market economy, to 2006 when she introduced Creating a Caring Economy: Nora CastaƱeda and the Women's Development Bank of Venezuela, James has broken new ground for the movement for change — from the bottom up, beginning with women.

Since 2000, the Global Women's Strike has called for an annual general strike of women on March 8, International Women's Day, under the banner "Invest in Caring Not Killing" with participation in 60 countries. “It is not enough to demand the end of the war,” explained James. “We must demand the end of military budgets, which ensure death and destruction, including by depriving us of our most basic needs – clean water for a start. We want that money invested in caring. Then we will be sure the killing will stop. Investing in caring begins with investing in women. It is mainly our work that keeps the human race alive, and human!”

When James launched the Campaign in 1972 to demand wages for housework from governments, a raging debate followed about whether caring full-time was "work" or a "role" — and whether it should be compensated with a wage. Now, after decades of women demanding payment and pensions for work at home and taking their case to the UN where governments agreed to measure and value unwaged work, the movement of caregivers is busting out all over. Women in Venezuela won Articles 87 & 88 in their Constitution*, there is legislation in Trinidad & Tobago, and time use surveys and other research are underway in many countries.

James says today: ‘We must work to reduce women’s horrendous workload. But we don’t want those we care for to be neglected and dissed as a result. Too many of us are forced to dump our kids in any affordable childcare in order to go out to (low paid) work so we can feed them. What a choice: care or food! Well we all, at every age, need both. We, women and men, must have time to care. Pay us for caring and we’ll be able to manage our time and our relationships.’

About ANDAIYE: Co-founder and international coordinator of Red Thread in Guyana. RT began as a self-help income-generating group bringing low-income women together across violent racial divides. It has always given a voice to all grassroots women: Indo- and Afro-Guyanese as well as Indigenous.

Andaiye is the author of The Valuing of Unwaged Work, an analysis of the cost to women in the Caribbean of structural adjustment policies. She represented CARICOM at the United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing, 1995, leading the negotiations which resulted in the agreement among governments, including the US government, to measure and value unwaged work. In 1979, she was also a founding members and leader of the Working People’s Alliance of Guyana along with historian Walter Rodney, author of How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.

Ms. James and Andaiye are open to scheduling debates on payment for caregivers, and would be pleased to set up advance press interviews to adequately draw out this complex conversation. To arrange an interview, contact Phoebe Jones, tour coordinator, at 215-848-1120 or 610-505-4944.

Article 88 “recognizes work in the home as an economic activity that creates added value and produces social welfare and wealth. Housewives are entitled to social security.” Article 87 creates a social stability fund for independent contractors, including housewives, domestic workers and others.

Tour schedule

Pittsburgh PA Nov 8,9
Philadelphia PA Nov 11-13
New York City, NY Nov 14
Detroit, MI Nov 15-17
Benton Harbor Nov 18
Amherst MA Nov 19
Toronto ON Nov 23, 24
Atlanta Nov 25, 26
Miami FL Nov 26 (Andaiye only)
Phoenix, Flagstaff AZ Nov 27, 28
Portland OR Nov 29, 30
Los Angeles CA Dec 1, 2
Arcata CA Dec 3
San Francisco CA Dec 4-5

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