We women stand up, fight back, organize barricades and mobilize in many corners of the world. We break prejudices and fears, and do so with clenched fists in the streets of Chile, Colombia, India, Turkey, Hong Kong, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Palestine, Bolivia, France, Iraq and other parts of the globe.
These are very diverse struggles. In all of them, we are also working-class women leaders. We fight alongside the struggling people against governments and the capitalist system, against machismo and exploitation. We express our own urgent demands in each of these struggles, and we demand them to be taken up by the masses that bring the struggle to the streets.
This March 8th will not be another day of commemoration, it will not be a day to celebrate that women politicians in governmental positions, who have nothing to do with those who suffer the hardships caused by capital. This upcoming M8 must embody this spirit that circulates the world – from Chile to Hong Kong – and reach those who have not yet joined. This March 8 should be for struggle and revolution! From the IWL-FI we will be available to carry out this task wherever we are.
Some years ago, many feminist sectors call a women’s strike for this day. It is critical for women to take that tool of struggle of the working class, make it international and reclaim the rights of working-class women, the youth, and girls. In 1910, the International Socialist Women’s Conference proposed to make March 8 a day of worldwide struggle of the entire working class to achieve rights such as voting and equality and for the end of oppression and exploitation for all working-class women. M8 became international after St. Petersburg textile workers went on strike and the Russian 1917 workers’ revolution impacted the entire world.
Today, the need for M8 to be a day of struggle, a day that should be joined by all the exploited and the oppressed, is still present. We do not want only women to fight back that day, we want and we need a general strike FOR WOMEN’S LIVES AND THEIR DEMANDS, which are a fundamental part of every worker’s struggle for a socialist system; a system without oppression or exploitation. The hardships we suffered at the beginning of the 20th century are still in force, and in some cases they have gotten worse.
Femicide continues to increase worldwide, rape, sexual harassment and kidnapping for women trafficking is common currency. We had to sing in different languages “The rapist is you” to put on the world stage the sexual, symbolic and economic violence we are subjected to.
They violate us with starvation wages and want to force us to work until death. Labor reforms seek to subject us even more, young women lose access to education, live precarious lives, and our jobs are unstable. Those of us who are Black, migrant, indigenous or diverse suffer cruelty in many ways and are discriminated against at work.
We want to end hate crimes, we say stop LGBTIphobia and we demand affirmative action for trans people at workplaces. It is an obligation of the State to take women out of the scourge of prostitution and provide jobs for all instead of “regulating it” so that pimps increase their profits. On top of exploitation, the capitalist society subjects us to oppression, harassment and sexist violence in our workplaces, due to the fact that we are women. But far from complying, we fight for decent working conditions. Our bodies and our sexuality are not for sale! We are not commodities!
The battle-cry for the right to choose the moment of motherhood becomes more urgent and thanks to the struggle, it has more and more strength in many parts of the world. Handkerchiefs and street actions call for free and legal abortion. They also demand no incarceration for abortion and sexual education to be compulsory in all schools. It is urgent to have a universal and free healthcare system. We do not want parental controls, to die due to clandestine abortions, or have women forced to rent their bellies in order to eat. We want all churches to be separated from the State.
We are still enslaved by the tasks at home. The adjustment and austerity plans, whether from the right-wing or the left-wing administrations, continue to place more and more childcare tasks on our backs. We want to romanticize these tasks away and we demand specific policies and budgets for us to stop working 4 to 6 hours longer than men. We need free public childcare centers for all children paid by the capitalists.
We see right-wing administrations working to cut our rights and commodify our lives as well as those of the working-class. However, we do not believe that M8 should focus on fighting back “emerging fascism.” On the contrary, we believe that women and peoples are rising and fighting back the policies of hunger and repression of all kinds of governments, both right-wing and those who call themselves “left-wing” as well. The Chilean revolution, the Palestinian resistance, the struggles in France and India, even the resistance to the coup in Bolivia show that we and all the people can and should take to the streets.
Wherever we stand up, they repress and try to silence us. On M8 we will go out to denounce the repression, to say that we will not stand the use of sexual violence as a way of torture anymore. We will go out to demand the immediate release of all political prisoners, women and men.
Our struggle is part of the working class and popular struggles. Our demands must be raised by all who suffer and fight back the hardships of capital. That is why we believe that a women-only strike is not enough and even divides the forces. We want everyone together to stand up for our rights, we want a general strike for women rights and lives.
We believe that unions in the world should break the inertia placing their strength at our service. We, the female workers, the poor women and the young women will be the ones at the forefront on March 8, who will decide upon our demands and needs, but everyone must rise up together. We are convinced that it is imperative to fight back machismo inside both the labor movement and the working class itself so that the workers can join the common fight in better conditions. We need working-class men to support our demands and to come with us to strengthen this struggle, because, it is part of the broader struggle of all the exploited and the oppressed against that system and its governments.
Although the UN and many sectors of the feminist movement want to make us believe in the possibility of ending all the oppression we are subjected to under capitalism empowering bourgeois women, the reality is that, even M8, declared as International Working-Class Women’s Day, at first emerged as a grassroots movement of immigrant women who worked for textile industry in New York and organized strikes and mass actions to improve their working conditions and to have the right for union representation.
We want March 8 to be a day of struggle and revolution, we want our strength to be felt across the world. Furthermore, the same way we should be at the forefront of the struggles against the right-wing governments and capitalists, we should not let ourselves be cheated by the positions that a minority of women reach in governments or corporations. Although a few of us manage to break the famous “glass ceiling,” most of us are still stuck to an increasingly sticky floor, which prevents us from moving ahead. We shall not let them silence us with parliamentary traps or repressive backlash. We will stand united and we will demand that a general strike and days of protests to be called for our rights everywhere.
The IWL-FI will be at the forefront of this struggle and we will make every effort to prepare it because, in addition to being a major human right, the struggle for women’s liberation is part of our daily struggle for the construction of a socialist world which, as Rosa Luxemburg said, “We are socially equal, humanly different and totally free”.