|Written by IWL-FI publication – February 2013 Supplement|
|Thursday, 07 March 2013 02:22|
IWL-FI Statement on 8 March
In the front of the civil war in Syria, in the demonstrations of Tahrir Square, in the strikes and marches in Europe, in the outraged uprising against rapes in India: there are thousands and thousands of working women breaking the frontiers of oppression, breaking the boosted divorce between women and politics and proving that there is room for women in revolutions.
With or without their veil, Arab women are out in the streets and are an active part of the revolutions of North of Africa and the Middle East. Europe is not different: during the general strike of the 14th November, in the struggles against evictions, in the radicalised strike of the Asturian miners, in the movement of the unemployed youth and in the students’ movements, women close ranks together with men in resistance against the adjustment plans.
In India, streets were occupied in protest in opposition to violence against women. In New Delhi, a 23.year-old woman was the victim of a brutal crime with her friend. She was attacked and raped inside a bus and then thrown out of it with the vehicle moving. On 29th December, 12 days after the rape, she died in a hospital in Singapore.
This crime was not an isolated fact. It was the straw that broke the camels back in an unbearable situation: in seven out of ten of fastest increase in India women are the victims and rape is at the top of the list. A 2010 research reveals that 80% have already been physically abused.(The New York Times, 08.04. 2011).
What was news this time was the fact that, influenced by the general situation, men and women walked out into the streets and forced a social problem, which affected thousands of women all over the world out of the “private scope”; Demonstrations acquire a political character and challenged the insufficient responses given by the government and the police.
In Latin America, overcoming the conservative pressures of the Church, women of Uruguay could harvest the fruit of their mobilisation: decriminalization of abortion that is, in spite of all its limitations, is important headway and ought to serve as an example for the entire continent.
In the line of fire of attacks
Contradicting the ideological propaganda broadcasting that male chauvinism is over; data confirm that the oppression of women is still on. A UN report reveals that 70% of poor people are women. (Report The Gender Trap: Women, Violence and Poverty – 2010).
In times of crisis, this situation is even worse. According to a report by ILO – World Job Trends among Women – ILO – 2013, this World economic crisis left 13 million women out of job. In Europe, women are the pet target of government attacks. They are majority among public servants (85% in the areas of Health and Education) i.e.: the areas suffering the worst attacks by the austerity plans. Between 2011 and 2012, education suffered cuts in 2300 million euros of European budget.
The gap between the wages increased with the crisis: among workers collecting the minimum salary, women are twice as many as men. In Portugal, the unevenness in salaries increased 4.4% between 1997 and 2010, (For an inclusion of a gender perspective in the citizen audits and the public debt. Research published in January 2013 by the Anti-Austerity Feminist Campaign).
The double shift feminine workday also appears in the data. A 2011 research of the OECD shows that women dedicate an average of 4 hours a day more to housework than men do. This reveals that it is also women who suffer from the cuts in social rights and public services, for they are the ones who are “responsible” for house care and the health of the family.
Policies of support for pregnancy and motherhood and the right to abortion are under strong attack. And this is particularly grievous in a social context where life is much more difficult for women than for men, especially for mothers. For single women with children the risk of poverty is 34% while among single men, it is practically null. (For The Inclusion Of A Gender Perspective In The Citizen Audit and the public debt) Research published in January 2013 by the Feminist Anti-Austerity Campaign).
Together with this there is an ideological offensive of conservative sectors defending as a solution to the crisis and unemployment, the return of women back home.
The explanation of all this is that capitalism needs to impose a new model of world-wide exploitation, dismantling all social achievements of European working class and so open the possibility of overcoming the economic crisis.
Domestic and sexual violence
The consequences of this non-egalitarian and unjust system are not only economic for women. There is deep moral degeneration in this society where money is worth more than people, life is worth very little and women are increasingly mere pieces of goods on the market.
Within the context of a system that constantly promotes the idea that women are to be regarded as property of men, that domestic violence and sexual crimes such as harassment, rape and trafficking have reached alarming rates. According to UN, a thousand million women are maltreated or abused at some time their lives.
Young women are the greatest victims of sexual crimes. Sexual trafficking is one of the most barbarous forms of violence by means of which young women are submitted to sexual slavery. For the bourgeoisie this is profitable business. According to ILO data, human trafficking moves $32 000 million a year.
All this happens with the negligence as often as complicity. The case of the missing Carolina Garzón, a young militant of the IWL-FI, is a symbol of what is happening to thousands of women in the world. Our Colombian comrade is missing from Ecuador since 28th April last year. Nearly a year later, Ecuadorian police want to put an end to the search with the argument lacking any evidence according to which the young woman is said to have accidentally fallen into the river and drowned. In the same way, there are thousands of women in the world who are now missing victims of capitalist barbarism.
What is the solution?
Bourgeoisie, aware of the role that male chauvinism has to play in capitalist society, stimulates this reactionary ideology that divides the working class and encourages submission and servility of women.
At the same time bourgeois sectors are trying to dispute the leadership of women’s struggles giving the old reformist answers a new image. Organisations such as World March of Women propagandize the so-called “Theory of Empowerment,” According to this theory the way of reaching power for women is to follow the footsteps of Angela Merkel, Cristina Kirchner and Dilma Rousseff. This is the old proposal of “sisterhood”, i.e.: women in a joint struggle against men can get rid of patriarchy.
And yet, working women in those countries governed by women are still suffering from poverty. Furthermore, women heads of state lead the application of austerity plans.
Men and women of the working class all together against capitalism and male chauvinism
Every struggle of workers of the most basic right is important and must be permanent for no achievement is definite in this system. In the days of international crisis, this hold even more true than ever. The super-exploitation affects all the oppressed sectors, among the, women; but not all women, for women are divided into two: those who attack and those that are attacked.
Bourgeois women, or those who occupy high positions in governments, still suffer oppression but they are not in the same conditions as working-class women. The contrary is true: they help to keep women workers exploited.
Women who, in Europe as well as in the North of Africa and in the Middle East, are heading and participating actively in mobilisations underway are working women.
Working class women may momentarily join the bourgeois women in defence of a particular democratic interest, for example: for the right to abort. But these agreements will collapse as soon as they collide with the limits of capital.
That is why the strategic unity of working class women is with our own class, the only class capable of defeating capitalism and promoting the conditions of a socialist society that will in turn open the path for full equality.
Men workers who practise male chauvinism and defend this ideology will sooner or later, consciously or unconsciously wind up defending the employers. When a male worker stops practising male chauvinism and takes on the banner against oppression, he weakens the employer’s objective that is to divide in order to super-exploit.
With every right that is snatched away from women workers, capitalism makes headway in running over the rights of the entire working class. Male chauvinism favours bourgeoisie alone. That is why organisations of workers must take on women’s demands. If they do not do so, women will be left at the mercy of popular front alternatives that will lead them to defeats.
On this 8th March, the IWL-FI summons all the working class women to get organised in the defence of all our rights and invites them to join the task of building a revolutionary party, central tool for the combat for the defeat of capitalism and for the construction of socialism, the only way to put an end to all kind of oppression and exploitation.
International Women’s Secretariat.