This March 8, women around the world will write another important page in the history of struggle for their rights. In an unprecedented action, in more than 20 countries this international day of working women is calling for a strike, and we will take the streets.
By International Women’s Secretariat – IWL-FI.
Over the last years, we have seen how women are at the front line of resistance. Working and poor women are teaching us us how to confront imperialist plans, how to resist invasions (Syria, Palestine, Kurdish women), how to fight for education (Mexico), how to defend what is already conquered (Poland), how to claim for equal pay (Iceland), how to fight for our lives (India, Argentina), and a long etcetera.
A year and a half ago, on June 3, under the slogan #NiUnaMenos, a group of Argentine journalists called to mobilize against femicides and violence against women. On that J3, the streets of Buenos Aires were small before the largest mobilization the country has seen so far in defense of women’s rights. This demonstration had great impact around the world and the slogan became international: while facing repression, Mexican women shouted the same slogan and added ¡Vivas nos queremos! [we wants us alive]. And so began women’s fight all over the planet, accompanied by thousands of workers.
In 2016, many women came out again: wee saw large mobilizations in many countries. But Polish women’s strike for their right to abortion as well as the October strike in Argentina marked a new perspective. The boost that was missing was brought by American women that came out by hundreds of thousands to confront Donald Trump on the very first day of his term.
Unlike what a large number of feminist groups in the world say, this has nothing to do with individual empowerment of women, or with “defending our femininity“. This is because the increasing capitalist crisis, imperialism and servile governments’ adjustment plans are getting harsher and hit the working and poor women with increasing hostility. We have no other choice than to go out and struggle against them. And it is because this situation, combined with male-chauvinist violence, is taking our lives, and generating a wave of rejection and outrage around the world.
The IWL-FI participated with great enthusiasm of each of these actions: we shared the streets with thousands of working men and women and participated in meetings organizing the actions of November 25. We are glad that figures of international importance such as Angela Davis and Nancy Fraser reinforced the call. We are thrilled to see strikes against male-chauvinist violence crossing borders. March 8 is truly an international day of struggle, and in many corners of the globe our needs are being discussed.
Yet, this enthusiasm does not blind us. We believe that this is a first step, and we need further discussions to avoid the struggle for our emancipation to remain halfway. We are convinced that we will not get too far by ourselves. The step forward that women have taken in this struggle must be accompanied by the struggle of all workers and oppressed peoples against imperialism. Behind the male-chauvinist, homophobic, racist and anti-immigrant speeches of Trump, there is a whole plan to continue loading the global economic crisis on workers’ backs, the unemployed young people and, especially, the most oppressed sectors. All of this aiming to divide our class and help rich people recover their fabulous profits. Trump hits the most vulnerable ones first, but he will go after white workers’ rights too.
The adjustment and austerity plans affect the working class as a whole, specifically women, immigrants, Blacks and the LGBT community. We are the first ones to feel the cost-of-living increase because we cannot feed our children, we have no medicines, and we live in neighborhoods without public services. The cutbacks, the lack of clean water in many African countries, the situation in Haiti and the world’s poorest regions; it all brings terrible suffering. Many women in India are ill or get raped in rural areas because they cannot access toilets, and public restrooms are limited. The budget to fight male-chauvinist violence (where there is any) is limited and tends to disappear. We depend on ourselves because the governments raise taxes and VAT on workers and poor people instead of raising taxes to the rich and confiscating all goods that corrupt ones steal.
All of Us on Strike and to the Streets!
The preparatory meetings for M8 in Argentina made an unanimous decision to demand the Federations to support the strike that day, just like in some countries women’s movements or union groups –Non una di meno and the No Austerity Struggle Front in Italy, for example- called unions and groups to strike for women’s struggle on March 8. In Brazil, the Women in Struggle Movement (MML), linked to the CSP-Conlutas, not only adhered to the call for international strike as it also called other sectors to take it as part of the preparation for the general strike that working class needs to defeat Temer’s government and its projects of social and labor counter-reforms. The teachers’ union in São Paulo, of mostly female composition, will strike that day.
Let’s take these examples and go further: let’s make each workplace and study meetings, assemblies, etc., to debate and decide to participate of this global strike. Let’s lend a helping hand to our male class comrades for them to strike or go out on the streets with us, to listen to our demands that are also theirs; so that they can raise their voices with us for union leaders to make part of this too; to start fighting male-chauvinism in our ranks; for our claims to be part of each strike’s demands. On March 8, let’s carry thousands of protests in factories, public squares, etc.; let’s call for unitary demonstrations.
We are in the front line and we go out for our rights, but we want the company all workers, because our struggle is the struggle of all exploited ones. Therefore, on this March 8, let’s strike and struggle with and for women all together, as we did against the layoffs; against the pensions’ cuts law; for public education to our children, workers’ children. It is the working class that can stop the production, men and women, and we will certainly have to face a minority of women who, like Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education of Trump’s government, a multimillionaire owner of the multinational Amwaym, is a declared enemy of public education and working women. Student youth can also strike or demonstrate in universities and colleges and join the actions organized in each country in what can be a great day: a great day for women, a great day of struggle of all the oppressed and exploited ones. Let’s tell the owners of the world that we are willing to struggle.
On this March 8, working women will retake our tradition of struggle, a tradition that made this day to be declared as an international day of women since the beginning of the XX century, which had an extraordinary boost with the triumph of the working class’ revolution in Russia, in 1917. It was the Russian working women who, in February that year, began the most moving social revolution in history. Working women and men, poor peasants and rank and file soldiers understood that if they wanted the struggle against hunger, violence, ruthless exploitation and oppression to go all the way, it was necessary to take society’s fate into their own hands and start building a new society, a socialist society. Such is the story we want to repeat all over the world.
No More Femicides and Male-Chauvinist Violence!
No Cuts! Full Women’s Rights!
Equal Pay for Equal Work!
In Defense of Mother’s Rights and Decriminalization of Abortion!
Against Male-Chauvinism and all Forms of Oppression!
Out with Trump and Imperialism!
End Capitalism! Long Live to Socialism!
International Women Secretariat; International Workers League – Fourth International.
Translation: Misty M.