Your meeting this weekend – the 2nd Pan-Canadian Young Feminist Gathering, “Notre Révolution Féministe, Our Revolution Is Now,” organized by the RebELLES Movement – is a significant event for young women, and the youth and student movement across the country.
This gathering comes at a crucial time.
On the streets of Latin America, Europe and the Arab world, people are marching in resistance to imperialism – especially young women. The people of Wisconsin, with labour, women and youth at the core, showed North America can fight. The fires of struggle are burning.
RebELLES also takes place during an economic crisis where women are being hit hardest, and just weeks after the catastrophic election of the Harper Conservative majority government. We now face the most pro-war, pro-corporate, homophobic, racist, anti-women, and anti-people government in history.
We are in an emergency situation.
While opposition Bill C-389 (adding gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds for discrimination and harassment in both the Canadian Human Rights Code and the Criminal Code) passed in the house, it died with the election. The last years of Tory rule aggressively attacked child care, aboriginal women, women’s programmes and pay equity. They threatened reproductive rights. Tory foreign policy attacked women globally – in Afghanistan, Palestine, Libya, Haiti, Colombia, Honduras, and elsewhere.
Now, as a majority government, the possibility is all but gone for the New Democrats and the opposition parties to block the Tory agenda of sexist G20-style “law and order”, militarism, unemployment, and vicious “austerity” budgets. The focus of resistance is therefore the extra-parliamentary arena. This is where the next battles will be fought, and where victories can and must be won.
Canadians have not shifted right — most voters including the women and the youth, opposed the Tories. The real majority is in the streets, on our campuses, in the workplace and our communities. Harper has no mandate!
Young women must be an essential element of the fight back against the Harper Tories, the right-wing, and the big business agenda they represent.
The hard work of women made the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, a major coalition of equality-seeking groups in English-speaking Canada, into a powerful political force. The pro-corporate Chrétien Liberal government of the ‘90s slashed NAC’s funding. This attack continued and led to NAC’s demise and has weakened the fight back.
The coming together of the RebELLES, the Ad Hoc Coalition for Women’s Equality and Human Rights, the growing Marche mondiale des femmes, the Sisters in Spirit campaign, No One Is Illegal, and the recent mass outpouring of women (especially youth) saying no to violence against women in the SlutWalks (responding to a police officer telling students that the best way to avoid getting raped was to avoid dressing like a “slut”) – these are all welcome new developments and must go further.
We must bring together these threads of resistance.
The needs of the broad majority of the young women can never be divided from those of the working class, aboriginal people, (im)migrants, students, seniors, queer people, farmers, and all the people on the road to a better world. We need a massive campaign to build a People’s Coalition for a genuine alternative to corporate greed.
Ideas like the Charter of Youth Rights campaign, (demanding the rights of youth to democracy; a good, quality job; accessible, free education; full equality; peace; a healthy environment; justice for Aboriginal peoples and Quebec; and democratic culture and leisure) could unite the youth and student movement in a powerful force, taking on policies for real change and confront the system, pushing for a counter-offensive for the rights of youth against corporations.
History is not on the side of patriarchy and capitalism. It is on the side of freedom, equity, peace, ecology, and the people. We remain committed to joining with all those fighting immediate struggles today, while championing a better future for all. For us, that means socialism!
On behalf of the Young Communist League we express our solidarity towards your meeting and its important work and look forward to the outcomes of your discussions.
Central Executive Committee, YCL-LJC