Call for the international day of struggle of working women on 8 March
By Nina Gunić, International Women's Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 7.3.2015, www.thecommunists.net
1. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) sends its greetings to all fighters for the liberation of women who are oppressed by class society and imperialism. On this particular day, the international day of struggle of the working woman on 8 March, we commemorate the heroic pioneers of women's liberation. We remember the murdered women textile workers who were detained on 8 March 1908 during a strike in a New York cotton textile factory by their employer who were miserably burned alive after he set the building on fire. Their heroic strike against the exploitation by the capitalists, in which 129 of them paid with their lives, has been honored every year on the 8 March for 106 years now. (The same horrible fate befell 146 women workers from the New Yorker factory Triangle Shirtwaist in March 1911.) Likewise, we commemorate the work of Clara Zetkin, the communist leader and pioneer of women's rights. It was she who advocated the example of US female workers who fought on 8 March 1909, one year after the murder of the 129 heroines, with mass demonstrations and strikes for the rights of women. Thanks to Clara Zetkin these demonstrations have become an international event annually since 1911. We hold high the banner of the proletarian women's movement, which was Zetkin’s life's work. This bright banner must still be carried to the farthest corners of the world to help all our class sisters to engage in struggle against oppression and exploitation.
2. The RCIT greets the combatants, who courageously encounter the imperialist beast worldwide. The super-exploitation in semi-colonial countries, which is based on the role of monopolies in the world economy and their constant pursuit of profit, shapes the lives of billions of the oppressed in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, wider parts of Asia as well as Eastern Europe. A tiny minority of the largest 147 multinational corporations control 40% of the world economy and if one takes the 737 most powerful monopolies, they have 80% of the wealth in their hands. They exploit at breathtaking speed the people of the semi-colonies, especially women. Their life is full of deprivation; working-class women are often expected – after a 15-hour average workday, which includes violence and rape by the masters of the factories – to look after their families. The poor female peasants and female urban poor are suffering from starvation while they work to increase even more the profits for the corporate bosses and landlords. On top of all this we have to add the wars of the great powers which annihilate the hopes of women for a better future, let alone for real freedom and equality. But the brutal oppression and exploitation of women cannot prevent millions of them engaging in heroic resistance against their imperialist masters.
3. Female factory workers fought heroically in the past year in many parts of the world. The female workers of the Taiwanese shoe factory Yue Yuen, 70% of them women, went on strike for more than two weeks for a fair wage and improved working conditions. These 40,000 employees in the Chinese industrial city of Dongguan are terribly exploited by piece work for minimum wages. At the beginning of the strike these female workers had no trade union organization. Their heroic struggle against the CEOs of Nike, Adidas and other powerful corporations produced severe problems for their capitalist masters. Like their class brothers and especially class sisters in Cambodia, they faced not only the factory owners but the entire capitalist government in their country as class enemies. In Cambodia 39 female workers were arrested and five of them were executed by the military police. In Cambodia amongst the 600,000 textile workers, 90% of which are women, thousands have gone on strike against declining wages. These low wages made Cambodia a target for imperialist corporations, many of whom also come from China. Working-class women have stood up bravely against the corporate bosses, demanding the right to organize, higher wages and better protection against the toxic fumes that make them unconscious and ill. They fought street battles with Cambodia’s military police and many have been arrested in Dongguan. These are just a few of the countless heroic proletarian fighters worldwide.
4. The poor female peasants also fought heroically in the past year against the increasing land grab that is taking place now not only by big landowners but also by multinational corporations. In Liberia, women and men of the Jogbahn clan have successfully fought to keep the British palm oil company Equatorial Palm Oil from grabbing their land. This demonstrated once more that the interests of the working women and poor women peasants have nothing in common with the interest of bourgeois women. After all, it is the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who has brought these same multinationals into the country for a number of years. Equally impressive are the Brazilian Indians, such as the Guarani, who try to fight against land grabs. Their spokeswoman, Marinalva Manoel, was raped and murdered because her voice had become too loud and her campaign too successful. These are just two of the many examples of heroic resistance struggle of the poor peasants worldwide.
5. Women fought heroically with arms in hands in the past year as part of the various resistance movements that oppose dictatorships and imperialist interventions. The women of Gaza, who are organizing as combatants in Hamas and other resistance organizations, have shown unwavering courage in their struggle against the overpowering apartheid state of Israel in the bloody war of extermination last summer, 2014. Fighters such as Um Jafar and Guevara are known female faces of the rebels in Syria, who oppose the dictatorship of Assad. More and more women are joining the rebel units, including the militia of the "Saut al-Hak" ("Voice of Justice"). Around the world, more and more women join anti-imperialist liberation movements.
6. The increasing participation of women of the oppressed classes in the liberation struggle is also the reason why reactionary regime and imperialist states are trying more and more to attract women to their cause (e.g. Assad's so called "Lionesses" or Israel's female soldiers). Thus our enemies hope to counterbalance the great popularity of the liberation struggle amongst the female part of the oppressed peoples. Whether female thugs in the service of the rulers, women in company boardrooms, at the top of racist movements or even of a corrupt regime – they are nothing but enemies of every class-conscious worker and oppressed woman. This is not altered by the fact that some of these enemies of real women's liberation fighters call themselves “feminists”.
7. The RCIT stands for the real liberation struggle against the oppression of all women, which is united with the struggle against capitalism and the imperialism. This real liberation struggle is led by the proletarian women and men in the world and is based on the oppressed masses. The movement, which can be generally grouped under the term feminism, consists of only two camps which are opposed to the interests of the proletariat: the camp of the bourgeois women's movement and the camp of the petty-bourgeois women's movement. Both of them are, in different ways, obstacles on the road of the authentic liberation struggle.
8. Bourgeois feminism is a great enemy of real women's liberation. It put itself at the service of imperialism early on in its history. The suffragettes were the most radical current in the bourgeois women's movement. They carried out suicide attacks to draw attention to their concerns. But when the imperialist First World War began in 1914, they became enthusiastic defenders of their imperialist homeland and were willingly enlisted to support the imperialist war. Today middle-class feminists like Alice Schwarzer in Germany, who has expressed sympathy for the racist PEGIDA demonstrations and who is a long-standing supporter of imperialist wars and occupations against the alleged "Islamist threat", stand in this tradition. These bourgeois feminists have also welcomed the pro-imperialist mobilizations after the attacks on the racist French magazine Charlie Hebdo. They regularly justify imperialist wars and occupations – which take place e.g. in Afghanistan and Iraq – using the “argument” of the women’s liberation to support the bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria. They are camouflaging their service for the imperialists with claims that it is in the interest of the entire female gender. This is nothing more than an appeal to working-class women and other oppressed to betray their own class interests in order – as it is demonstrated by the bourgeois women's movement – to serve the imperialist powers.
9. Petty bourgeois feminism is not the fight for real women's liberation. It currently often stands at the forefront of mass mobilization of oppressed women – such as the urban poor, the rural poverty and many workers – in India and in several Latin American countries. But it shrinks from a real break with the ruling class and their capitalist system. Petty-bourgeois feminists often try to collaborate with representatives of the bourgeois women's movement. It is therefore a potential gateway for these reactionary elements in the mass movements of the oppressed. In Chile a strengthened petty-bourgeois women's movement has opened the road for a number of bourgeois women to get positions within the government apparatus. This government has – contrary to the original demands of the petty-bourgeois women's movement – only recently decided to disburse family subsidies only to women who are prepared to undergo regularly gynecological examinations. In India too, petty bourgeois feminists were at the forefront during the mass protests against gang rape. As in the past, one of their key demands is the expansion of the police force, which leads to an increasing repression of the oppressed classes. An ongoing project of petty-bourgeois feminists, for many years, is the so-called self-help groups for women who killed their daughters in need. These self-help groups are now transformed into control units that systematically denounce all women to the police, who do not admit to having killed their daughters. In the best case, petty-bourgeois feminists give support for female bourgeois careerists; at worst they are open supporters of the bourgeois apparatus of repression. Only the proletarian road of the revolutionary women's movement represents the interests of the oppressed women, and all other exploited and oppressed in the world. Such a revolutionary proletarian women's movement must therefore also be part of the struggle for a revolutionary new Fifth Workers' International, a world party of the proletariat and all the oppressed.
10. The RCIT advocates the formation of such a world party, as well as for the construction of a revolutionary women's movement. We greet all female and male fighters for the liberation of women who are particularly oppressed in the class society and by imperialism and we urge them to join with us. Let us fight together for a revolutionary program for women's liberation!
For full equality in workplace:
* Equal pay for equal work! Massive support for the conversion of part-time to full-time employment for women!
* For a public employment programme to create the conditions for the socialisation of housework and simultaneously eliminate unemployment among women!
* For the formation of trade unions, especially for female workers in semi-colonial countries! Build women’s commissions in the unions to deal with the specific discrimination of women, both at work places as well as with sexism in the labor movement!
For full equality in the society:
* An end to all forms of legal discrimination against women - whether in the workplace, in access to education or at the polls!
* For the massive construction of free, well-equipped 24-hour child-care facilities! For a wide range supply of affordable and high-quality public restaurants and laundry facilities! Our goal is the socialisation of housework!
* Free access to free contraception and abortion on demand regardless of age and no matter in what month of pregnancy the woman is!
* Down with all laws and public campaigns on religious dress codes! For the right to wear religious clothing, independently whether it is a form of Muslim veiling, the Dastar of the Sikhs etc. is! But also against any compulsion to wear these garments!
Stop violence against women:
* Fight against violence against women! For the expansion of public women safe houses, controlled by women's organisations! For the formation of self-defence units by the workers' and women's movement against sexist violence!
* An end to the paternalism by the state and religious institutions: everyone should be able to realise his or her sexuality without coercion and regulations, as long as this takes place with the mutual consent of the partners.
* Complete equality for lesbian (as well as for gay and transgender people) in the marriage law, right to have children, the public showing of their affection, etc.!
* No criminalisation of the sexuality of young people by statutory age restrictions! However, we are in favour of strict laws against rape and domestic violence, to protect children from abuse. Domestic violence perpetrators should be held accountable by neighbourhood and school committees.
Consistent struggle against the imperialist beast and for the liberation of the semi-colonies:
* Expropriate the multi-national corporations which exploit the semi-colonial countries and put them under workers’ control! This particularly applies also to all factories (their "business partners"), which are nothing more than local stooges of such corporations. Therefore: Nationalisation of the imperialist banks and corporations under workers' control!
* For the formation of trade unions which, especially with the help of women’s commissions, disclose the crimes against women (rape, abuse, etc.) and fight against that!
* Cancel the debt of all semi-colonial countries of Latin America, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe! Instead, the imperialist states must compensate the semi-colonial world for the plundering of their natural and human resources! For workers’ tribunals in the semi-colonial countries that are supported by the international workers movement to identify the crimes of the corporations to the people in the semi-colonial countries as well as to the environment and to make their owners accountable!
* Smash the IMF and the World Bank!
* No to protectionism in the imperialist countries against the commodities of poorer countries! Abolition of the NAFTA and the EU's common agricultural policy and similar protectionist weapons of imperialism! On the other hand, however, we defend the right of ‘third world' countries to protect their markets from cheap imports from the imperialist countries.
* For an international emergency plan to rescue the starving and to fight against the consequences of climate change – funded from the profits of the banks and corporations in rich countries!
* Immediate ban on the purchase of land by multinational corporations and hedge funds! Immediate confiscation of all non-agriculturally used land owned by large landowners! Abolition of all patents of capitalist monopolies in agriculture!
* For the expropriation of the big landlords, the church and the multinationals! For the nationalisation of the land under the control of workers and poor peasants! The land to those who cultivate it! The local democratic actions council representatives of the poor and landless peasants have to decide the question of the allocation and use of the land! Promotion of voluntary agricultural cooperatives and the formation of larger state production units!
* Where the infrastructure of the semi-colonies is still too weak: formation of village collectives to share the childcare and housework and hence to enable women to full employment!
* Imperialist Great Powers: Hands off Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc! Victory to the resistance struggle! Immediate end to all wars and occupations, withdrawal of all troops (including so-called “humanitarian operations”) and dissolution of all local imperialist facilities! Against any form of interference – militarily, economically or politically!
Forward to the revolutionary world party! For the building of a revolutionary women's movement!