International Women’s Day: Women unite! Fight against patriarchy, exploitation, imperialism and the ultra-right

On March 8, we are called to action to advance the women’s movement for equality. We celebrate and reflect on the revolutionary women who struggle against the patriarchal capitalist system, the women who have made history, and those who carry this tradition today. Capitalist countries either fail to recognise women struggles on International Women’s Day or co-opt these struggles in order to make of this day an inoffensive one that is rooted in the celebration of femininity as opposed to being rooted in the decades-long movement for women’s liberation. This can be seen in the popular idea that women are oppressed because there are less women CEOs than men.

The fact is that , International Women’s Day has always been and will continue to be a day of action for women’s struggles, for true personhood, for full equality in the workplace, in the home and in the streets. As Young communists, we also take pride that the deep root of International Women’s Day comes from the communist movement: it is Clara Zetkin and Alexandra Kollontai who took the initiative of celebrating March 8th as a day to honour women’s struggles across the world.

As prices rise, wages remain stagnant, disability and child benefits remain obscenely low, and governments across Canada continue to adopt austerity budgets, women are amongst the most affected.Many women stay in abusive partnerships because of the lack of decent and affordable housing, the gendered and racialized wage-gap perpetuates poverty, lack of childcare places a heavy financial burden on families and excludes women from the workforce, and access to lifesaving services such as abortion clinics, emergency shelters, rape crisis centres continues to be eroded. Young women who face high student debt and are forced take unpaid internships due to pressures to find work experience are most affected, as women face more barriers in entering employment, will be hired in lower paying jobs due to the devaluing of what is considered “feminized” labour.

As the far-right becomes more emboldened to organize openly, attacks on racialized women are on the rise, particularly Islamophobic acts of violence and discrimination. White-supremacists try to whitewash their bigoted speech by using feminist discourse to attack Islam, rather than the true culprit of women’s oppression: patriarchy. Movements like the “incels” and other populist groups are not simply spreading misogynist speeches, but actually organising on campuses and elsewhere. Their ideas are also being trivialised and enforced by “traditional” right-wing forces, including the Conservative Party, Bernier’s “People’s Party” and Doug Ford’s government, which just passed a directive forcing Universities to sanction people who would oppose ultra-right organisations on campus.

At the same time, trans women are increasingly becoming targets of deadly violence, with racialized trans women being targeted the most. Indigenous Women and Girls continue to go missing or are murdered with impunity, where government and law enforcement are often in fact the perpetrators of the violence in the first place.

As Canada continues its global aggression with participation in NATO, its sanctions and threats against Venezuela, its long-standing tradition of colonial theft of wealth on the African continent, its destruction of our environment, women are often the first ones to suffer from the crimes of imperialism. .

There have been some recent major successes of women mobilizing both locally and globally. In India’s Kerala province, 5 million women organized to form an unbroken wall in protest against the fascist Modi government. In Spain, last year, millions of people took part in a Feminist strike that took place on March 8th and unions as well as women organisations are getting ready to organise a similar action this year. In Venezuela, where they won considerable rights since the beginning of the Bolivarian process, women are fighting against the danger of an imperialist intervention, knowing that part of the imperialist plan is to force women to accept conditions similar to Bolsonaro’s Brazil or Macri’s Argentina that lead to large-scale violence and discrimination.  

At home, february 14 saw dozens of protests against colonial gendered violence against Indigenous women and girls across Turtle Island in annual marches and demonstrations. The January women’s marches continue to attract large numbers of women, who take to the streets in demand of equality. These successes must be celebrated and built upon to grow the women’s movement to achieve real change, to stop gendered violence, to eliminate poverty and inequality, and to ensure land, food and water is protected.

In order to make real change, we must recognize and destroy the root cause of women’s oppression: capitalism and fight for a new society without oppression, exploitation and wars: a socialist society. Capitalism is based on the exploitation of the working class and relies on the oppression of women, the enforcement of heteronormative values, and the gender binary. While these pre-date capitalism, this economic system has transformed them to maximize profits and enforce reproductive labour. While we must organize and struggle for the immediate demands of working-class women such as pay equity, we also recognize the insidious nature of the “perfect marriage” between capitalism and patriarchy. The Young Communist League of Canada calls for action against capitalism, against all forms of oppression against women, and calls to organize and fight back in our workplaces, universities and in the streets!

*You can find a printable version of this statement here