Statement by the IWL-FI
Another March 8th is here and we, working women, will take to the streets to raise our banners of struggle with energy and determination. This day unites the struggles we have been leading across the globe, be that encouraging women workers to organize against violence, fight against inequality, and/or challenge our exploitation.
In Ukraine, more than a year after the war began, women continue to defy, along with their fellow resistance fighters, Putin’s tyrannical invasion and the occupation of their country by the Russian army. They raise and wield their weapons to impede the advance of the oppressive enemy. In Iran, women led the uprising for life and freedom after the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman who was killed by the so-called “morality” police. This unleashed mass protests against the regime of the ayatollahs and the Raisi government, and exposed the overexploitation and misery of working women covered up by religious dogmas. These women are exemplary in showing the people of Iran how to struggle and organize a resistance. In Great Britain, various sectors came together to carry out one of the largest strikes in decades, with a strong female presence. These are the examples we must follow, and spread the word and lend solidarity.
In 1917, Russian women workers turned International Women’s Day into an important day of protests and strikes against war and hunger, transforming the date into a spark for the most important revolution the working class has ever experienced. Now, it is up to us to continue that fight. Women workers from across the globe must promote an internationalist and fighting March 8th, rescuing the socialist heritage of Women’s Day and the traditional methods of class struggle to put an end to oppression, violence and capitalist exploitation and to demand our rights and freedom. In this process we must count on the support of working men, who must break with machismo and be an active part of the women’s struggle, strengthening the bonds of solidarity and union among workers.
Working women will not pay for the capitalist crisis
Working women were the hardest hit by the capitalist crisis that was worsened by the pandemic. According to imperialism’s own international agencies, inequality has reached absurd limits. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the UN, 207 million people are currently unemployed and one third of the world’s population is food insecure. Women are the greatest victims of a depressed labor market and hunger. For every unemployed man there are two unemployed women. We are also the ones who suffer the most from precarious employment, informality, part-time work, and low wages. Not to mention wage inequality and the extra labor spent doing work in the home.
This situation is even worse for the most oppressed sectors of women because the combination of machismo and other forms of oppression such as racism, xenophobia and LGBTIphobia imposes even more humiliation, more poverty, more inequality and more violence on Black women, indigenous women, immigrants, trans women, etc.
This whole macabre picture of female inequality and poverty has been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the increase in international food prices and supplies due to the war has particularly affected the poorest, i.e. women. On the other hand, of the 8 million Ukrainian refugees living in Europe today 65% are women.
In addition to abuse and femicides, economic inequality makes it difficult, and in some cases impossible, for women to escape cycles of violence. Factors such as employment and income, which allow us and our children to support ourselves if we need to leave a violent home, are crucial to break this cycle. The same can be said of the adjustment plans and social counter-reforms implemented by governments around the world, be they right-wing and far-right, but also progressive and self-declared leftists who govern according to bourgeois and imperialist interests. Cuts to public spending upend the critical social programs that help combat violence and support victims, and poor women need these programs most.
That is why on this March 8th, we must shout loud and clear that we will not pay for the capitalist crisis. We demand employment, wages and rights, equal pay for equal work and socialization of domestic work like public laundries and restaurants, day-care centers and full-time schools. We also demand concrete measures to combat violence: educational campaigns, punishment of aggressors and comprehensive assistance to women victims, which requires political will and public resources.
For the right to our self-determination: Legal, safe and free abortion without restrictions for all!
On the other hand, we cannot accept the reactionary policy that criminalizes and/or restricts abortion and condemns thousands of poor women to risk their health and lives in unsafe procedures to exercise self-determination. Criminalizing and/or restricting abortion does not prevent it from being performed, it only condemns thousands of poor women and people with the capacity to gestate (women, trans men, non-binary people) to unsafe procedures.
The criminalization of abortion is part of the attempt to maintain control of the reproduction of the labor force for exploitation through the control of working women’s bodies. But in order to guarantee the reproduction of the labor force at the lowest possible cost, capitalism puts working women before an impossible dilemma: on the one hand, it seeks to control our reproductive capacity and our bodies and limit the right to sexual freedom, while, on the other, refusing to bear the social cost of reproductive work, including both biological and social reproduction (the care of children and the elderly, their food, education, hygiene and health, etc.). Enough hypocrisy. Just as guarantees are needed for us to exercise motherhood in a dignified manner, our choice not to be a mother or the time to be a mother must also be respected and ensured as part of the struggle for our self-determination and our sexual and reproductive rights. Working women have the right to decide without risking death. That is why we defend the right to abortion, safe and free, without restrictions, for all women.
Take to the streets in defense of our banners of struggle and for socialism
Only by organizing mass mobilizations will we maintain the rights we have won and win new ones. In this process we must rely on our forces and on the working class. For this, we must maintain our political and class independence, because the bourgeois women, even if they participate in the struggle against oppression, do not have the interest to put an end to their class privileges. Therefore, if it is necessary to strike, we may need to march separately, since our strategic struggle is against this system of exploitation and oppression, which fosters and reproduces all oppressions and is responsible for all inequalities.
On March 8, we invite working women to take to the streets and fight for our rights. At the same time, we call on them to participate in and strengthen the IWL-FI, understanding that the immediate struggle against machismo and for rights must be part of the strategic battle for socialism. Only with the end of capitalism can we truly liberate working women.
Long live women’s struggle! Long live socialism!
IWL-FI, March 8, 2023