Central Executive Committee, YCL-LJC
Unite & fight ultra-right hate!
International Women’s Day in 2017, the 103rd anniversary of the first IWD, is characterized by rising misogynist danger but also renewed resistance.
Reactionary anti-feminist and anti-women movements such as the “Gamergate” movement and the “Men’s Rights” movement, which is largely organized on Canadian campuses by “Men’s Issues Awareness” groups and the “Canadian Association For Equality”, have gained strength and joined with white supremacist and transphobic individuals and groups against supposed “political correctness” and for “free speech”. In reality they are united to defend hate speech. The “alt-right” movement is an internet based movement that has cobbled together a repackaged neo-Nazi ideology and has gained some traction among some younger people looking to reinforce white supremacy and patriarchy and by extension imperialism and capitalism.
These groups are hate groups that hide their anti-women stance under the pretense of defending the living conditions of men. That suicide rates or dropout rates are high among men demonstrate suffering under the capitalist system. But this suffering is not caused by the advancement of women’s equality, rather it is the result of a toxic masculinity promoted by patriarchy. The same patriarchy fought by Feminists and their allies.
The backdrop to these developments is the capitalist crisis, which has caused sections of the ruling class to abandon liberal bourgeois ideas and embrace ultra-right and fascist movements. In North America, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States was both helped by the rise of the ultra-right and also emboldened these movements. Canada is not immune to this rise of reaction and the struggle against patriarchy is linked to the struggle for systemic change here at home.
Trudeau: neither a Feminist nor an ally
The Harper government dismantled and attacked women’s programs, closed 12 of 16 offices of Status of Women Canada, eliminated the funding of any women’s organization involved in advocacy, amended the Act on Equitable Compensation to prevent the use of courts to advance pay equity, ignored Indigenous women’s suffering and demands, attacked the right to choose and pushed forward a violent discourse against Muslim women, stoking the flames of Islamophobia, which led to physical violence and now Islamophobic mass murder.
In contrast, Trudeau declared at the UN: "I'm going to keep saying, loud and clear, that I am a Feminist." We are not fooled. Neither these hollow phrases, nor the gender parity introduced by the Trudeau government in his cabinet, indicate a radical change in Canada. These changes serve above all the image of the Liberals who seek to stand apart from the Conservatives, without actually changing the political agenda.
Trudeau is neither a Feminist nor an ally. For example, this government, like the Harper Tories, continues to ignore the longstanding demand to create a universal, accessible, affordable, quality, public childcare system. It has supported a $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia whose reactionary monarchy are among the biggest supporters of the oppression of women and who are carrying out a murderous war in Yemen. Trudeau supports the building of pipelines that in favor of the oil and gas monopolies' colonialism perpetuating violence against Indigenous women and territories. Feminist change that advances the conditions of the vast majority of women - working women - will not come from the capitalist class in power, but will be the result of our struggles, as history has shown.
For socialism & women’s liberation
The struggle of women for our emancipation from patriarchy is inherently linked to the working class’ struggle for the liberation from capitalist exploitation.
The oppression of women, particularly through the nuclear family structure, is crucial to ensuring that women’s role in society remains largely in the reproduction of labour, especially in raising children, who would either attain inheritance or constantly supply a new source of labour for the ruling class. The unpaid labour of women is essential to maintain the rate of profits of the capitalists and this system keeps the majority of women in poverty or precariousness.
The gendered division of the working class in the workplace and between different industries also serves to drive down wages across the board, especially for women (and more still for racialized and immigrant women) and create super profits. It is also the reproduction of the patriarchical family under capitalism that gives rise to homophobia and transphobia. LGBTQI2S communities are oppressed by patriarchy as well as women.
It is for these systemic reasons that despite the advances that women have made in recent decades in capitalist Canada, that we are still far from equality, and that our rights are still threatened, attacked and rolled back. Ultimately, the struggle to end patriarchy is bound up with the struggle to end capitalist exploitation and replace it with socialism, where working people are in the drivers seat and able to structure society based on people’s needs and not the creation of profit for the capitalist class. Communists struggle against patriarchy both to alleviate the oppression of women under capitalism, but also because these struggles are necessary to win socialism.
Renewed movements struggling against misogyny and racism
This year, many women will celebrate International Women’s Day with a renewed sense of strength. Almost 5 million women and their allies took to the streets around the world on Jan. 21 to oppose the xenophobic, racist, misogynist, homophobic, Islamophobic and pro-war agenda of Donald Trump and his government of Wall Street bankers, billionaires and oilmen.
Indigenous women are at the forefront of resisting the corporate agenda, along with the occupation of lands, theft of resources, and colonial gendered violence which all continue under the Trudeau Liberals. Black women and trans folk are leading struggles against racist police violence and murder.
Action such as the Slutwalk, Take Back the Night, the student campaign “Ni viande, ni objet” in Quebec, and the many demonstration against rape culture on university campuses have been successful in bringing awareness and some policy changes. International Women’s Day continues to be an important moment for our movement to organize our struggles.
It is necessary to build and unite these movements for equality in our workplaces, schools and the street. Coalitions of women’s groups can come together – women from groups like Idle No More, Black Lives Matter, Labour Women’s Committees, LGBTQ, disability, student and, pro-choice and other groups. In the face of attacks and reaction we stand united. In the fight for a world of gender equality we refuse to wait and instead we organize!
All throughout the history of the working class movement in Canada and the world, Communist women like Clara Zetkin, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Claudia Jones, Annie Buller, Becky Buhay, Vilma Espin, and Angela Davis have been fighting for the emancipation of women. The YCL-LJC fights for a socialist Canada where patriarchy will be ended and full equality possible, and for immediate changes for women’s rights.
This International Women's Day the YCL-LJC demands:
Restore funding for women’s equality programs and fund equality-seeking women’s groups;
Equality and security for immigrant women;
End the wage gap – legislate full pay and employment equity;
Guarantee accessible and publicly funded abortion and reproductive rights services in every province and territory;
Establish universal, quality, affordable childcare with Canada-wide standards and union wages for child care workers – restore the universality to Quebec’s childcare system;
Protect women’s right to EI maternity coverage; expand parental benefits to 52 weeks;
End all forms of violence against women and provide adequate funding for crisis centres and transition houses;
Legislative change to provide paid leave for someone experiencing domestic violence;
Support survivors of gendered violence - funding to be used toward counselling, moving, legal costs and more;
Repeal Bill C-36 - harassment and criminalization of sex work is not the solution to exploitation;
Join the 25th Che Brigade!
Since 1993, the Ernesto Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade has offered hundreds of Canadians the opportunity to join an exciting and informative 2-week tour of Cuba. Volunteers are afforded a first-hand view of the gains and victories of the Cuban Revolution through both a tour of significant historical and political locales of Cuba and by working alongside ordinary Cubans. The next Brigade leaves in Spring 2017.