March 8, 2018

March 8th 2018: let’s celebrate women’s resistance against capitalism, patriarchy, misogyny and far-right

Special to RY

We reproduce here a statement by the Central Executive Committee for the occasion of the International Women’s Day 2018.

Proud of a revolutionary and feminist tradition of  95 years, the Young Communist League of Canada celebrates feminist struggles and mobilizations and the contribution of women to the popular resistance against the power of Big Capital, finance, warmongers, against patriarchy and all forms of oppression; in short, against capitalism.

This year, we celebrate the 107th International Women's Day in a dangerous situation for women, youth, workers and the masses. The danger of bloody imperialist wars of aggression, austerity measures, the threat of an economic crisis, the rise of the far right, and racist, xenophobic and misogynistic ideas are on the minds of women, who are among the first victims.

 Far from pay equity, women continue to earn significantly less than men. Despite some progress, it remains that at the current rate, it would take 170 years to reach equity, a delay that is more significant for racialized and Aboriginal women who earn 68 ¢ and 46 ¢ respectively on average for every dollar earned by a white man. In addition, the overall decline in the unionization rate, the result of decades of neoliberal policies, of the dismantling of public services’ and free trade agreements, has eroded the social benefits for which women have mobilized and which allowed an advance of their general conditions. Moreover, women (especially young people) occupy jobs that are generally more precarious than their male counterparts.  For young women accessing university or post-secondary studies, this means that they will be paying longer to reimburse their student loans and that, if their program requires them to achieve an unpaid internship to sanction their studies, they will be more impacted than their male counterparts.

Beyond wages, the situation of women remains highly conditioned by the double exploitation of which they are victims. Fruit of centuries of domination,  Patriarchal oppression after having served Lords, Kings, Emperors and Tyrants, takes now root in the domination of the capitalist class. For the 10% of women aged 18 to 24 who said they were victims of sexual harassment, patriarchy is not a theoretical concept, but real violence. For the 99.7% of women victims of sexual assault who will never see their aggressor forced to answer for their actions, patriarchy is a harsh reality that reminds them that in a capitalist society, their voice is rarely taken into account.

Indigenous women, in turn, have to deal with the racism they face as well. Shamefully, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Survey shows shortcomings that prove the lack of seriousness in consideration of this investigation by the government. For several months, Indigenous women's associations have been denouncing the lack of funding, the short time frame and the "colonial" nature of this Enquiry. The internal disputesdrove ten people to resign from office, including Executive Director Debbie Reid and Commissioner Marilyn Poitras. Despite growing demands for a reinitialization of the investigation, the government merely has dismissed them, continuing in the same path.

Today, the resistance of women is even more crucial as they are confronted with the rise of misogynistic speeches, far-right ideas and their trivialization. Over the past year, anti-abortion protests have been taking place, for example at the University of Alberta. The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario's campaign presents a hard-core misogynist candidate who advocates for"traditional" values (which includes a principled opposition to abortion and all forms of women's liberation). This is also the case for Andrew Scheer, the new leader of the federal Conservative Party who has ties, like Stephen Harper, with pro-life circles. A shame when we consider that we are celebrating this year the 30th anniversary of the victory of women for access to abortion, access that unfortunately remains still very unequal.

These misogynists are the same ones who, when it comes to veiled women, pride themselves on defending the right of women against the "barbaric" oppression of which they would be victims. They are also the ones who exploit the oppression of women when it comes to bombing people in the Middle East to free them, when we have to fulfill our "responsibility to protect" them, while knowing all too well that women are, systemically, victims of rape as a weapon of war.

In fact, they are among the most reactionary and retrograde in society, nostalgic of a period when women were referred to as "the weaker sex" and where they were relegated to the role of housewife, a glorious period for those who had every reason in the world to fear the wrath and resistance of women and the popular masses in general.

Today, we can see that women are rising up slowly. From Stockholm to Caracas, from New York to Attawapiskat, they are part of the great struggles against the imperialist, racist, misogynistic, fascistic offensive of a capitalism out of breath. The #MeToo movement, much more than just a hashtag, has borne fruit in Sweden where new laws have been passed to facilitate the process of women survivors of sexual harassment.

In Spain, women - especially at the initiative of the Communist Party and the Communist Youth - will begin a feminist strike across the country. In January, millions of women mobilized to refuse patriarchy and all the reactionary forces who oppose their total emancipation.

In Québec,  an active campaign raises awareness on the difficulties faced by women to enroll in post-secondary education. Indigenous women everywhere in Canada have long refused to stand still and are mobilizing to defend their rights and emancipation despite successive governments generosity only in words.

Despite the limits of this resistance posed by the lack of coordination and unity of the feminist movement in Canada, women and the feminist movement play an important role in the response against patriarchy, but also the rise of the far-right, against the scourge of public services, against militarism and war.

Women’s mobilisations show that they share a profound sense of injustice and that they deserve better. This year’s federal budget presents a “feminist” appearance. This is not just a “gift” made by the Liberal government, but a result of women taking back their place in the struggle, and we know historically the key role played by the feminist movement in winning our public and social services.

Young communists, we remember that the 1st International Women's Day was decreed 107 years ago thanks to the efforts of Clara Zetkin and the Women’s Socialist International. It is indeed no coincidence that the Socialists, then the Communists, were the ones who first understood that the struggle for the emancipation of women is not a struggle subordinated to the struggle for revolutionary transformation but rather a struggle that exists by itself and whose interests are similar to those of all the mobilizations against the capitalist barbarism from which patriarchy derives its power.

Thousands of women joined the Bolsheviks and mobilized for the social and revolutionary transformation of society, the only guarantor of their total emancipation. Among them are Inessa Armand and Ndezhda Krupskaya, two influential Bolshevik revolutionaries; Gladys Marín, founder of the Communist Party of Chile; Dolores Ibarruri or the Pasionaria, Spanish communist and anti-fascist leader; or Jeanne Corbin and Annie Buller, two Canadian Communists involved in the organization of historic strikes.

It is in their footsteps that we, young communists, follow and encourage young women to follow, because there is no doubt that women, like any exploited or oppressed human group, have nothing else to do but lose their chains by getting rid of capitalism.

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