Every March 8 we fight for women’s rights across the world. Yet, this year’s M8 is not one more on the calendar. We are going through the third year of the pandemic, an avoidable catastrophe that exposes the criminality of capitalism which is crueler to us. There are plenty of reasons which are increasingly deepening to take to the streets and fight bak sexism and capitalism.
The hunger pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic is not over yet, but we women already face a legacy of hunger, violence and setbacks on our backs. The serious economic crisis had been hitting hard but the pandemic has placed us in an even more overwhelming situation.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) itself states that between 2020 and 2021 women’s employment have returned to the levels of 15 years ago. The ILO estimates that around 64 million women in the world are jobless.
Healthcare workers deserve a separate mention. They have seen their work intensity increase under the pressure of the healthcare crisis and wages and working conditions worsened. So far in the pandemic, the healthcare networks have not been improved by any government and it is the vast majority of women who support this “front line” in the fight against covid, at the expense of their physical and mental health.
These data are from the formal economy. The mass of women who work informally and in precarious conditions is large, which generates vulnerability in both employment and access to food which is aggravated in even inhuman conditions for migrants, Black women and LGBTQIA+.
Working women and poor women are being pushed at high speed into hunger and the desperate need to feed their families. This level of unemployment and hunger places them in greater danger and exposure to marital and intra-family violence.
Violence on the rise
Sexist violence continues to increase throughout the world. Recently the WHO published an alarming report indicating that more than 1 woman in 4 in the world has suffered gender violence. Femicides are increasing and the few help lines or services for victims of violence are saturated and with a significant increase in the number of complaints since the start of the pandemic.
The rates of violence vary and increase as countries become poorer. Those who are most exposed are young women, black and indigenous women, and LGBTQIA+ women, who are victims of lesbobitransphobic hatred.
Although we have come from successful processes in achieving legal abortion in several Latin American countries, sexual violence and the restrictions to family planning by governments continues to be an undeniable fact of violence. Deaths from clandestine abortion, or jail and punishment for those who agree to it, are still very high.
Maternal mortality skyrocketed in the world, in some countries it doubled – as in the case of Colombia – and in others it tripled, due to direct deaths from Covid, but mainly due to unwanted pregnancies due to the abrupt drop in services of contraception, which led to an increase in unsafe abortions, and poor prenatal care as a result of the closure of maternity hospitals and the diversion of resources to attend to COVID. These deaths hit the poorest, rural, racialized women and thousands of girls.
The struggle is the only way ahead
However, we are not unarmed victims and women are at the forefront of various struggles. We heroically resist the invasion in Ukraine. We came out together with the Cuban people against the dictatorship. In Colombia we have achieved the total decriminalization of abortion up to 24 weeks, just as decriminalization also advanced in Mexico and Chile is debating it.
For years, women’s uprisings have played a leading role in the world class struggle. Unfortunately this year the majority of the feminist leaders have opted for passivity or formal appeals. In times when the struggle becomes more necessary than ever, they call us to trust the “progressive” governments that many referents are part of, and if not, where the right-wing is in power, they organize electoral platforms and slow down the direct actions.
Despite the fact that the presence of women in positions of power is an expression of the just struggle that we wage every day, it is not only insufficient, but also used by the bourgeoisie to tell working class women to trust their governments for having “one of them” among its ranks.
But it is not those governments or those referents who will give us what we deserve. It is those same governments, and many times those same women, who resort to austerity plans, continue to segment access to vaccination in the world, carry out labor reforms, do not increase budgets, health posts, education and above all those who prioritize profits to our lives and condemn us to unemployment, hunger and violence.
Achievements are important and that is why we fight with great tenacity, but they are insufficient as long as we continue to live in a capitalist world. We need a socialist revolution to put an end to this murderous system, which uses the oppression that women suffer to divide us as a class and exploit us more, to pay us lower wages than men, that makes us the mass of unemployed who pressure to lower the labor conquests of the working class as a whole. Because capitalism also disregards the domestic and care tasks that it should guarantee collectively, placing them on the backs of poor women and workers.
The working class women at the front
In order to carry out a consistent fight against sexism, we can only trust in our own strength, in the struggle in the streets and in the solidarity and common struggle of the entire working class.
But in the struggle against sexism and oppression, we want and need the support of working men, because the sexism that oppresses, humiliates and over exploits women serves both to divide and weaken the class, and to increase the exploitation of all workers. Therefore, we are against any separatist perspective which gives up the battle to make men break with their own sexism and to join the struggle with us.
The fight for our rights has to be of the entire working class, so that our coworkers also stop reproducing sexism and that our organizations fight back this scourge within the working class so that we have a place in the common struggle. The fight is not separate but a joint one against sexism within our class. There is no way out to end oppression without tearing down this capitalist system that oppresses and destroys us.
Ukrainian women are showing signs of courage and heroism. Although the Zelensky government directed them to leave the country, many chose to stay and even return to take up arms and fight back Russian soldiers. We have seen them preparing Molotov cocktails and getting ready for combat, as well as Russian women mobilizing in their own country against the invasion. The criminality of a war situation also hits women with more pain, and that is why this March 8 it is necessary to take to the streets for the defeat of Putin and his invasion.
In this IWD we choose to fight, with the working class women at the forefront, calling on the entire working class and the oppressed of the world to fight alongside us, to embrace women’s demands and join the struggle for a socialist world.
For a militant March 8!
For the defeat of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine!
Working class unity against sexism and capitalism!