March 8th: a day made with struggle
Beginning on June 3, 2015, we affirmed “Not One More!” (Ni una menos!) with national mobilizations, and ever since we’ve experienced a veritable wave. There were women’s strikes and mobilizations against femicides, discussion over the right to abortion became more widespread, and 8M began to be an important day of struggle. The heightened fight of women, in Argentina and across the world, turned June 3rd into a day where, with hundreds of women meeting in congresses, we debated the need for a strike.
Many feminists began to place pressure at the site of production, challenging companies to see if they could stay open without women’s participation in the economic sphere. This is definitely progress in the movement, because it questions the role women play in production for the capitalist economy, but it is insufficient. We from the IWL-FI and the PSTU-Argentina affirm the need for a general strike to demand our rights. At the time, we said, “We will lead the struggle, we will say what we need, what our most urgent demands are, and we will decide how to fill the streets, but we do not want the factories, schools, stores, and companies to work without us, we want to paralyze them!” We debated the need to struggle for our rights to be taken up by all workers because we understand that the struggle is not of women against men but of all of us together against capitalism. Capitalism oppresses, divides us, and takes advantage to exploit women workers and the whole class with greater force.
Nevertheless, the feminist leadership called for a women’s strike and expelled men from the mobilizations. Regardless, March 8th was still a success, mobilizing younger and older generations of women who came out for the first time, and some organized unions, which included male comrades who understood that the struggle was a common one.
It became a day of struggle; and that is the way it has been for several years. These mobilizations incorporated the teachers’ and workers’ struggles, is a platform to denounce the payment of the foreign debt, and an expression of anger against governments. They served to loudly condemn the nefarious role of the Catholic Church and the rest of the churches that impede access to sex education, who are against abortion, protect pedophiles, and profit thanks to our continued and shared oppression.
One step forward, two steps back
The country debated women’s rights, above all against gendered violence. In this way, the struggle for the legalization of abortion became massive in numbers and participation, which in turn radicalized the sectors linked to the churches and the most rancid political right.
The triumph was slow in coming because the leadership restrained the movement and told the millions of people who took to the streets to trust parliament, the deputies (who voted for labor reform, looted pensions, ordered the evictions of the occupied factories, and the places occupied by women who had no housing). They argued that this was just an issue of women, and refused to call for a working-class plan of struggle to win the much-needed right to abortion.
The same political sectors who turned the struggle into peaceful strolls and national holidays also supported the electoral campaigns on the need for more feminists in the benches. And thus, after winning the government, Kirchnerism and its feminist currents negotiated a law that was not what the streets were demanding.
However, an unprecedented and needed triumph of the right to an abortion was won for women and people with gestational capacity. A qualitative leap in preserving women’s lives, knowing, of course, how insufficient it is because of the decadent healthcare system in our country. Public health has been left to fail thanks to the budget cuts approved by the same politicians who voted in favor of abortion as the law of the land. This initial triumph had the counterpart of the co-optation of the immense majority of the feminist currents by the government of Alberto Fernandez, the consolidation of those currents that called for trust in the institutions, and the pandemic took us out of the streets, deepening the institutionalization of women’s struggle.
The currents that call themselves leftist or socialist feminists, along with their parliamentarians who sometimes put on a display with incendiary speeches, fell into line with the current government. Despite speaking in the name of the working class, neither the organizations belonging to the FIT-U nor the rest put forward a program that breaks with institutionality and places the workers’ struggle at the head with its methods of class struggle.
Since then, the mobilization began to dissipate. The majority of proposals of the women’s movement are for an internal struggle within the regime and trust in the governments and institutions that only defend the bosses and corporate profits. Thus, March 8th was again taken away from us as a day of struggle for women workers and society’s most oppressed and exploited sectors.
Let’s recover our day!
We advanced a lot by wining the right to abortion, but we are not better off. Despite the permanent campaign of the collective Not One More (Ni una menos) or the union women of the Central Workers’ Union (CGT), they say we have allies who fight for us, but the data tells a different story.
Alberto and Cristina’s government claims to be feminist; they have women in public office, use inclusive language in official statements, they even have a ministry of gender and diversity. However, they are only putting on a show for public spectalce. The reality of the administration shows that they care nothing about the poorest and hardest-working women.
Starting with the wage gap and continuing with the terrible inflation that generates economic violence, women face unequal distribution of household chores, job insecurity, and a housing crisis. Last year alone in Argentina, 307 femicides were committed – that’s one death every 28 hours! Male violence has not ceased.
This situation makes it more than necessary to take to the streets again, to take up the struggle, and to call on those young and working women who are questioning everything not to trust their executioners.
Women workers and revolutionary organizations made 8M into a day of struggle; let’s go back to that and recover our day by taking advantage of all the experiences of these years. Let us break the paralysis, question those who claim to fight for women’s rights, and place the poorest at the center of our struggle. No trust in parliament and institutions, nor the corralling of mobilizations into radio talk shows and formal activities to fill their political calendars.
To win our rights, we have to confront the governments and the capitalist system that oppresses and exploits us. Let us fight relying only on our strength; let us call for the whole working class to fight with us for self-organization in the workplaces and neighborhoods. With us at the head and the workers and popular sectors taking the demands as our own, we will begin the road to regaining our day and the struggle for our emancipation.