STATEMENT of IWL(FI)
Written by IWL-FI – Women’s Bureau
Friday, 06 March 2015 18:40
On this International Working Women’s Day, the International Workers’ League extends its solidarity to all women who, across different continents, keep on fighting a daily battle against oppression and capitalist exploitation.
We dedicate this date to our comrade Carolina Garzón, a student leader and a young socialist member from the Colombian PST, IWL-FI’s section, who is missing for three years now in the Republic of Ecuador. In spite of the intense campaign to find her, we still ignore her whereabouts. Also to the comrade Sandra Fernandez, also a socialist militant from PSTU (Brazil) and her little son Cauã, both murdered a year ago by her partner, victims of sexist brutality.
To the Kurdish women, who organised in female militias and contributed outstandingly to the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) in the Syrian town of Kobane.
To the thousands of teachers, students and working class activists who demonstrated for several months in Mexico protesting against the disappearance and murder of 43 teacher-training students in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero State. They went as far as exposing the Peña Nieto administration and the State of Mexico for their connivance with drug dealing mafias.
To the European working people, who with the Greek women in the lead and together with all the workers have been fighting an endless struggle against the austerity plans imposed by a woman: Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany.
To the women and all the people of Turkey, who have recently been demonstrating in several parts of the country demanding from the Erdogan administration to end male brutality as a response to the murder of a twenty-year old girl who was beaten and stabbed until her death because she resisted an attempt at rape.
Oppression: a shocking reality
Just a few years ago, international organisations and capitalist governments, entrepreneurs, academic milieu, ministers of education and culture, etc. used to tell us that “women’s oppression” belonged to the past; that the triumph of capitalism over socialism would bring rivers of milk and honey. Even a famous Latin American authoress said that the only victorious revolution of the XX Century had been that of women. It is true that that in the last century, thanks to important struggles, women made headway and obtained many democratic rights. And yet, today they must admit that “discrimination” against women still exists, and how!
Exponential growth of violence against women takes the most disgusting forms and cannot be hidden. So much so that the UN, an organisation of the imperialist bourgeoisie, had to declare there is a veritable global pandemic.
They cannot conceal 70% of the poorest of the world are women, they cannot deny that every year 30% of pregnancy are undesired and in Latin America alone, unsafe abortion is to blame for 17% of mothers’ deaths, most of the victims being teenagers and poor.
They cannot conceal the unevenness of wages, from which even Hollywood can’t evade.
The American actress, Patricia Arquette, Oscar award as best Supporting Actress, said in her speech “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” The truth is that the rest of the world is even worse. If that is what an American rich women, who earns US$ 35 million/year, what would say the millions of workers who must survive with less than minimum wages in countries of the “Third World”?
They cannot conceal the fact that working women must work double shifts: Eight or more hours a day of productive labour and at least four hours more of domestic labour, camouflaged by what bosses’ organisations call “Care economy.” The unpaid work performed by women stands for enormous figures in relation to Gross Domestic Product – GDP. In 2009, in Mexico it was 22.6%; in Uruguay, it stood at 30%, in Colombia it was 17.2% – just to mention three examples in Latin America.
No matter how much they hide behind the disguise of “humanitarian actions,” they cannot deny the fact that in wars and invasions promoted by the UN and the NATO, imperialist armies and security forces find women to be their privileged victims when they turn women’s bodies into war trophies, mechanisms of submission, forced displacement and slavery as what is taking place in the Middle East, Ukraine and Africa.
They cannot ignore that the immense majority of female labour is employed in the sectors of services, health, education, social work, restaurants and cleaning and all the roles that have traditionally been associated to women as an extension of their role as mothers and caretaker and that, for example, in the European Union they are 69.2 % of public sector workers but only 38% of total labour. The headway made by women in jobs in industries other than in textiles, electronics or food sectors is far from closing the gap between men and women.
They cannot cover up the fact – no matter the speeches made on the merits of democracy and inclusion (bourgeois course) – that other sectors such as Blacks, immigrants, sexual diversity, are still victims of racism, xenophobia and homophobia. Let us only bear in mind the last year protests in Ferguson, USA, against the brutality of racist police, the policies of the EU against the immigrants and the islamophobia boosted by the governments and ultra-right groups in the US and Europe, or the refusal to accept themarriage and adoption by homo couples.
To compensate for this incontestable reality, capitalism boasts the advancement of women in politics and shows Angela Merkel, the presidents Cristina Kirchner, Michelle Bachelet, Dilma Rousseff, ministers and successful entrepreneurs as symbols of empowerment. Occasionally they deliver a prize to a woman from popular sectors, thanks to her tremendous effort and official policies of entrepreneurship, who manage to create a micro-business. We speak out loud: they do not represent us! They are bourgeois women who apply austerity plans against the workers. They do not have to work double shifts because they can pay an army of women to do domestic labour for them. They do not suffer the consequences of clandestine abortions because they can pay doctors and private clinics. They do not suffer everyday violence because they pay bodyguards to take care of them.
Most of feminist groups defend the standpoint that women should unite in a sisterhood. We do not agree. With bourgeois women we can only go as far as a joint action in defence of this or that democratic demand, but not any further than that. Class struggle places us on opposite sides of the barricades. Or would it be possible for Greek women to hold hands with Angela Merkel?
The reality is that capitalism, instead of bringing lands flowing with milk and honey, is deepening and using discrimination, oppression of vast sectors of society to put the burden of increasingly suffering and exploitation on the shoulders of the working class, to recover from the profound crisis that crosses in all fields.
All religious, cultural and moral ideologies that have been the sustenance and legitimacy of capitalism power, and that workers in their struggle and mobilization pushed back during important periods of the twentieth century, are reviving under new forms. Today the democratic achievements, such as the right to free abortion, are being severely cut in the US, Europe and Latin America.
Nowadays, tough austerity plans are being put into practice in Europe – just the way they were in the nineties in Latin America – which devastate rights achieved by the working class as a whole, and by working women, within the scope of specific female democratic and social rights. The sexist ideology is used to divide the working class and workers as a justification for unemployment, layoffs and cuts in the budgets and social rights.
Austerity: synonym for social war
No country in the capitalist word has eluded austerity plans. In some cases they are applied in a deeper manner, in others in a slower pace. Imperialist capital, by means of its multilateral organisations, the IMF, Troika and OECD has been working out a complex policy to recover from the economic crisis that began in 2007 and produced social catastrophes as in Haiti and Greece.
The working class from US and Europe would not believe they could be the victims of plans performed in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
A recent report from European Women’s Lobby (EWL) on the impact of the policies of austerity in relation to women’s rights said that, “… austerity policies in Europe weaken women’s rights, perpetuate gender unevenness and make the perspectives of economic development more difficult…”
That is so because the drastic cuts in public expenditure have caused layoffs in the sector where women are about 70%, as well as cuts in social expenditure affect public health and education.
They have reduced the rights protecting motherhood as work licenses, child allowances, pension rights, programs for children and elderly care, and increased tax burdens through VAT. Women who get back a job are hired on an hourly or part-time contract, with more precarious employment without entitlement to social benefits.
Fight together against bourgeois ideologies
Last year in Spain, thousands of workers, with women in the lead, walked out to the streets and achieved a great triumph. They defeated the proposal of the government and its minister Gallardon to reduce the right to abortion. Not only the new bill was abolished but the minister had to go. This is the way: democratic rights for women are not simply women’s affair.
It is necessary that the working class and their organizations implement a programme to unite all workers. Ideologies as sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and racism are prejudices that the bourgeoisie implant in society because they are functional to economic exploitation and political oppression. They are harmful ideologies that divide and make workers face each other, preventing them from fighting for their common interests against capitalist exploitation, preventing their own recognition as a class.
Women are half the working class and, in the service sectors such as education and health the figures are close to 70%. Wage inequality is expressed here as inequality for all workers in the branch, thus serving as a general downward pressure on wages.
Trade unions should include specific female proletariat demands as pay equity, child care, right to pensions, child and elderly care programmes, maternity protection, collective canteens, socialisation of domestic labour, the right to decide on motherhood, right to free abortion and right to adopt for homo couples.
We must fight for women’s access to the leadership of the unions and labor organizations, providing all the ways needed to achieve it.
It’s necessary to fight sexism and all its expressions, against domestic and social violence, against the concept of women as sex objects.
We are fighting for socialism
The capitalist system only offers workers, crises and wars, exploitation and oppression. It shows its true face and confirms that the proposals of “humanisation of capitalism” or achieving permanent improvements without radical changes, that raise “radical democracy” as a solution or the false Castro-Chavista socialism, are at most fleeting illusions.
We, socialist women want revolution! We wish to fight together with our working class brothers of the whole world, regardless racial barriers, beyond any linguistic obstacles, regardless national borders in order to change the world. Every achievement, every partial headway made by women, by the working class, by the marginal sectors are immediately threatened. Nothing is lasting for workers. The logic of the exploiters is jeopardising even the planet.
We want to fight to leave for the forthcoming generations a better world. We fight for a society without exploiters, without oppressors or oppressed, we fight for a socialist society.
But not the bureaucratic and totalitarian socialism built by Stalinism, which deformed the huge achievements of the early years of the Revolution of 1917, which gave women rights that not even the most advanced capitalist state was able to grant.
Neither do we wish the programme of “reforms of capitalism” that most of the left organisation advocate nowadays. We do fight for reforms, sure, for democratic rights, for liberties, but our goal is socialism. This is our battle cry on this International Women’s Day. This is our cry for male and female workers. We fight for the world party of the revolution to make this goal a reality.
Long live the international Day of the Working woman!
Women’s International Secretariat – IWL-FI