Every March 8, we take to the streets to vindicate the struggle for women’s rights. In 2021, International Working Women’s Day will be very different. The COVID-19 pandemic has been going on for a year now and remains unresolved. The more than 2,500,000 deaths worldwide and 113 million people infected (according to official figures, although independent studies indicate twice as many or more), reveal a massacre with no end in sight.
By IWL-FI – March 3, 2021
This unprecedented health crisis added to the economic crisis that was already impacting the world’s poorest people, clearly showing that capitalist inequality generates a situation of oppression that is even more suffocating for working and poor women.
Reality was even harsher than the predictions we made. We were hit harder by the pandemic because governments of all stripes prioritized the privileges and profits of the capitalists, rather than the defense of public health and the lives of millions. They have done almost nothing for us or for humanity as a whole.
They call us essential, but they want to make us invisible!
The statistics are frightening. The loss of jobs in the world is gigantic and women are the most affected. In April 2020, 55% of the 20.5 million jobs lost in the USA were held by women. Health and social-health care workers, the majority of whom are women, have been the most exposed to the virus, with strenuous and poorly paid working hours.
We women are the majority in the informal economy, thus the compulsory confinements and the terrible retraction of the economy, threw us into greater precariousness, unemployment or directly into misery; Domestic workers and caregivers, were forced to be infected, in absolute precariousness and with the consequent double working day that overwhelmed the majority of women this last year.
Of the women who lost their jobs, half abandoned their search and are now forced to devote themselves to the home.
Caregiving tasks increased a thousand-fold very quickly. The burden of schooling, the increase in the number of sick people in families, and the necessary care of the elderly fell on our shoulders.
The need for permanent sanitization of homes and everyday objects exacerbated domestic slavery. This situation worsened in the poorest households, which do not have access to basic housing services or drinking water, and which also came to depend on reduced wages or insufficient government aid, which is now being withdrawn in many countries.
Women who were able to keep their jobs by working remotely from home, tripled their working hours in a situation of stress and overload with care and domestic tasks, which have no limits or clear schedules.
As if this were not enough, according to the report Women and children in times of covid “https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/WeWorld-Index-en-2020.pdf “, by We World, violence against women increased by 25% during confinements. Femicides increased around the world, children were forced into confinement with their abusers, and budget cuts in the areas of violence response led to the closure of shelters and safe houses.
This pandemic showed the criminal business of health care, condemning to death millions of people who do not have access to a right that has become a privilege. The same happened with access to vaccination, which remained in the hands of rich countries and the pharmaceutical industry.
The need to prioritize the pandemic delays general medical care, condemns thousands to breast and uterine cancer due to the delay in annual check-ups. Just as mental health is not conceived as a necessary right.
Our sexual and reproductive health is also neglected, as it is not considered an “essential health care”, access to contraceptives or voluntary interruptions of pregnancy were suspended, and obstetric violence increased with speeches of “protocol application”. In 2021, one million unwanted pregnancies are expected, and several thousand additional preventable maternal deaths.
Migrant, segregated, indigenous and LGBTI women bear the brunt even worse, persecuted, forced to fall ill and starve to death by the acute economic crisis.
Gender equality future in the world of Covid-19?
This year’s U.N. motto for 8M is “Women Leaders: For a Gender Equality Future in the World of Covid-19”. It further argues that the “solution” is to have more women in government positions, placing current female heads of state as examples of management, because of their “gracious way of communicating fact-based public health data.”
The data expressed above shows the fallacy and lie of these claims. World “leaders” as heads of state, vice-presidents, ministers or parliamentarians are part of the criminal policy of governments. Angela Merkel, one of the leaders exalted by the UN is against releasing patents on vaccines that could save millions of lives in poor countries.
Although they use more “delicate” words, these women in power prioritize the profits of multinationals over the health of humanity, they prioritize their class status, rather than their female gender. While Kamala Harris took office as American vice-president, thousands of poor women were dying of asphyxiation due to lack of oxygen in the Amazon, thousands of Haitian women continued to suffer all kinds of violence, while top leaders of the Democratic Party profited by exploiting working women in the free trade zones of those places.
The mainstream feminist leaderships have remained silent during the pandemic, and call to trust these leaders or to vote for parliamentarians while the poorest die by the thousands every day. Those who claim to represent the women’s movement have become the feminine wing of the governments that pose as alternatives or as immobile denouncers in the others. Sustaining the discourse of individual empowerment as a way out of this situation which is clearly a social and collective problem.
To these feminist leaderships we say clearly that, although we are ready for the broadest unity of action in the demand for more vaccines or more resources against male violence, bourgeois women will never be allies of working class women.
For us there is no fundamental solution to the oppression within capitalism, whether through more or less radical reforms, or female leaders, we will not achieve our total emancipation. To be truly free we need the defeat of the world capitalist system and the conquest of a socialist society.
Governments take advantage
In the midst of this situation, ultra-right sectors, supported by international fundamentalist organizations, churches and religious factions, promote a reactionary ideological offensive of intolerance and hatred of human rights, gender equality, the fight against racism and LGBTIphobia.
At the same time, ultra-nationalist governments use the excuse of the pandemic to attack freedoms and democratic rights, such as the restriction of abortion in Poland and Honduras, the prohibition of adoptions by gay couples in Hungary, etc.
Throughout the world, the different governments take advantage of the necessary restrictions and measures of social distancing, to prohibit and criminalize the mobilizations of the working class and women, when we go out to demand a social and health emergency plan.
With hate speeches or progressive phraseology they try to divide and weaken the working class, they allude to the economic crisis that deepened with the pandemic, to justify the withdrawal of state aid to the most oppressed sectors, just when they need it most, but increasing subsidies to large multinationals.
Against the pandemic and in spite of it, we women continue to fight!
But women are not just helpless victims, we are at the forefront of several processes of struggle. In Myanmar, women are the front line against the military coup of February 1. In Poland, they resisted and prevented a repeal of the abortion law. In Argentina, they won a historic victory by passing the abortion law, despite the movements leadership. African-American women along with their class brothers took to the American streets en masse. Women in Belarus are at the forefront of mobilizations against authoritarianism.
Teachers and professors decree strikes and plans of struggle in several countries, in defense of their lives and those of their families. And the denunciation of machismo has generated very large spontaneous mobilizations, as in Costa Rica and Chile.
In Chile, our comrade María Rivera, lawyer, human rights activist and revolutionary, is an example of those women who go out to fight and are repressed for it. She is now being criminally charged because she asked the carabineros , the Chilean national police, not to shoot at the demonstrators. It is a persecution to prevent her from running for the Constituent Assembly. But they are not going to stop us!
For an end to machismo, fight against capitalism!
All over the world, the multi-million dollar plans presented by bourgeois governments of any kind have five, ten, twenty times more money to rescue the multinationals than to protect the life and health of the population. We cannot accept one more life lost! We can no longer bear to continue to bury our loved ones!
We must seize the patents from the hands of the multinationals and force all governments to implement a real vaccination plan that reaches every corner of the world, until the pandemic ceases to be a threat.
Taking all the necessary health and social distancing measures, we will take to the streets again wherever possible this 8M, and we want this day to help boost the struggle of the entire working class.
For our demands to be achieved, we need to unite the entire working class and fight for socialism. But it is not possible to unite the class when women are massacred and when it is our own comrades who produce and reproduce oppression. This March 8 we call on our comrades to break with their machismo and fight with us for our demands.
We fight for a world without pandemics, without machismo and without capitalism. We want to wage a socialist revolution that will conquer a world to be truly free.
Our Lives Matter! Waive Patent Rights and Vaccines for All!
No More Male-Chauvinist Violence!
No More Oppression and Exploitation!