Between 50 and 100 students and researchers assembled at the campus of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) at 12:30 on Friday as part of the commemoration of International Women’s Day. In response to the call by the Collectif 8 mars for a general women’s strike to mark the day, the researchers put up strike pickets at the entrance to the ULB’s Solbosch campus from 09:00 a.m. and distributed tracts to the students.
This was followed by an early-afternoon rally, during which the researchers denounced the abuse of authority and sexist behaviour by thesis supervisors. One researcher in a scientific field spoke of the lack of consideration to which she was subjected as a woman, compared to the attitude towards her male counterpart, and denounced sexist remarks on women’s physique. Other issues included how difficult it is for women to dare to speak in public, and the guilt experienced when one fails to find an appropriate response at the time of a discriminatory attack.
The group then marched behind a banner bearing the message “Etudiantes, Travailleuses, Toutes en grève” (“Female students, Female workers, All on Strike”), before going to the office of the Chancellor to deposit a list of their demands. These are aimed particularly at furthering the struggle initiated by university authorities against sexism on campus and at highlighting the fact that internships are generally unpaid in fields traditionally viewed as more feminine.
“These are the demands specific to our university, because we study here, we work here, we live here, but we do not forget to be in solidarity with women the world over,” said one participant, before chanting the slogan, “Solidarity with all the women of the world”.
The marchers later went off to join the general international women’s march that was scheduled to start at 05:00 p.m. at the Carrefour de l’Europe.