Every year on March 8th we celebrate world-wide the contribution made by working women and famous female pioneers to the struggle for a new society. The date was established at an international meeting of socialists nearly a hundred years ago. On this day in Russia in 1917 (February 25th according to the old calendar) women workers in Petrograd sparked the first revolution of that momentous year which overthrew the autocratic regime of the Tsar.
In many countries now, the media and commercial interests try to take the original content of class struggle out of the occasion. They use it as a sales pitch for numerous gifts for women - from the inevitable chocolates and flowers to ‘romantic’ week-ends away! They also do things like in Britain, for example, playing up Mother’s Day a couple of days before March 8th to eclipse the significance of this labour movement anniversary.
Traditionally, the Committee for a Workers’ International alsways takes the opportunity to pay tribute to pioneering giants of the labour movement like Mother Jones in the US and Eleanor Marx, Rosa Luxemburg and Clara Zetkin in Europe. We salute the courage of numerous women world-wide who stand up and fight for their rights.
Capitalism means untold suffering
Under capitalism, class division and poverty are worsening not improving. The richest 1% of people get richer by the day while nearly three quarters of the world’s population struggles to manage on less than $10 a day. Over one sixth of the world’s population - 1.5 bn people - have less than $2 a day to keep themselves and their children alive. In the numerous wars and civil wars world-wide which are bred by landlordism and capitalism, rape and the enslavement of women are used as widely as guns and bombs to intimidate and hold down whole populations.
Half the world’s refugees are female. Heart-rending scenes reach the media of the women and children fleeing war and persecution, be it Syria, Burma or the Democratic Republic of Congo. Predominant amongst the heroic volunteers who come to their aid are women. They are also to the fore in risking their own lives to bring food and medical aid to war-zones and to poverty and disease-ravaged parts of the world.
None of these sacrifices would be necessary if it wasn’t for the rapacious system of capitalism. In the pursuit of profit, representatives of banks and monopolies roam the world like a huge monster in search of more and more wealth to devour. As a system it is becoming more and more parasitical, not less.
Corporations around the world have vast reserves of money – already $7 trillion reported in 2013. They store up profits rather than invest in useful production – healthy food, life-saving medicines, decent homes for all and efficient, ecologically friendly energy and transport. Governments who cut back on public spending to save their system add to the hardship and burdens of working people – particularly of women.
Fight the system
Where struggles against cuts and against the system as a whole take place, women are to the fore and must be given every encouragement and support that socialists can muster. The programme of the Committee for a Workers’ International includes demands for equal pay for women and for reforms which make it possible for women to choose whether and when to have children. It also looks to a society where, through new technology, working hours are cut for all workers and household and workplace drudgery is practically eliminated.
Our programme for ending the chaos of the market and moving towards a socialist society involves the nationalisation of the banks, industry, land and mineral resources under democratic workers’ control and management. This is the only way to achieve a real change in the fortunes of working class and poor women, along with those of their partners, husbands, fathers, brothers and sons. This would open the way to establishing a society without wars, without hunger and suffering – of international cooperation and harmony. These were the ideals of the pioneers of our movement and remain those of the CWI. Join us!
At the recent World Congress of our International, an important document called ‘Women and oppression in class society’ was debated and agreed. The full text was carried on the CWI web-site here.