Long live International Women’s Day!

March 8 is International Women's Day, the day that celebrates the struggles of women all over the world for their rights and their emancipation.

March 8 is International Women's Day, the day that celebrates the struggles of women all over the world for their rights and their emancipation.

International Women's Day was first celebrated nearly one hundred years ago, at a time when capitalism and imperialism were developing rapidly, and millions of women were entering the work force. Capitalism, far from bringing freedom to women, only enslaved them in factories, broke up their families, and increased the burdens on them as women, as workers and as homemakers, while denying them any rights. Women workers came together and brought their protests out onto the streets, showing enormous courage and resolve. Through their fearless struggles, they were able to wrest some victories from the exploiters and the ruling classes. It is this tradition of struggle and sacrifice that International Women's Day has always celebrated.

International Women's Day naturally from the first was closely linked with the overall struggle against capitalist exploitation and for a new society free from all forms of exploitation and oppression – the struggle for socialism. The socialist and communist movement was the first to take up the demands raised by the fighting women as part of its larger agenda, and it was in the countries where socialism was established in the twentieth century that the most successful efforts were made to actually implement measures to emancipate women.

What do we see today, however, nearly one hundred years after the first International Women's Day was celebrated? On the one hand, practically every government around the world and various other institutions of the bourgeoisie make a big fanfare about International Women's Day. They trumpet loudly their “achievements” in “uplifting” women, and make all kinds of promises about how they will do this or that for women. On the other hand, millions and millions of women around the globe continue to be victims of ruthless exploitation and oppression of every kind.

In the present era of liberalisation and globalisation, capital is moving more freely than ever before to every corner of the globe, looking for labour, markets and resources to exploit. In the name of bringing “development”, whole countries, whole regions and whole sectors of the economy are getting devastated, bringing ruin to crores and crores of toiling people. We can see this happening in India, where thousands of farmers are committing suicide because of the devastation of agriculture; where factories and mills are closing down; and where people are being forced to leave their homes and migrate to cities where they find no work, have no security and are forced to live in the most squalid conditions. Women, with the double and triple exploitation that they face, with the special responsibilities that they face in the family, and with their vulnerability in the face of increasing crime and insecurity, are the worst sufferers in this situation.

The politicians and big leaders in India who make speeches on March 8th conveniently ignore all this. At the same time, they will definitely point to the fact that more and more of our young girls and women are getting jobs in certain sectors like BPOs, tourism, travel and service industries, where they work in air-conditioned offices, are made to wear smart clothes, and so on. But even apart from the fact that this represents only a very small proportion of women and of the female work force in our country, this kind of “development” does not represent any real progress for women. The educated women in these sectors are highly exploited, their jobs do not add to their skills and qualifications, and they have no security at all. Even when they go out to work, the backward social system that is in place does not give them respect or equality — they face all kinds of indignities and attacks on the streets and at their workplaces.

This is the great lesson that must be drawn from the experience of women, both in India and all over the world in the last one hundred years: that capitalist development does not emancipate women. On the contrary, capitalism allies with the most reactionary forces and elements in all societies in order to keep women subjugated, in order to deepen their exploitation. All those genuinely desiring the upliftment and emancipation of women must reckon with this fact. A system that thrives on exploiting the labour of human beings can never deliver justice to women.

Ever since the collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union and other countries, the women's movement in every country, including our own, has been under tremendous pressure to abandon the perspective of struggle for a new society. The bourgeois pressure that there is no alternative to the present system, that capitalism represents 'the best of all possible worlds', has been imposed on the movement of women too, pushing it in the direction of seeking accommodation within this system as its highest goal. In India, this trend is reinforced by the fact that the largest parties in the communist movement and their women's organisations follow this same road, and have all but in name abandoned the struggle for a new social system. At the same time, in the name of eschewing “ideology”, the women's movement has been pushed into focusing only on narrow or immediate concerns.

Various forces have imposed on the movement the view that women's issues are so specific and particular to women that the struggle for women's emancipation has nothing to do with the struggle against exploitation of all working people. Thus they have tried to deny that private property is the very basis of the oppression of women in the society and in the family. In this manner, they have tried to depoliticize the women’s movement and render it totally ineffective.

On this International Women's Day, the Communist Ghadar Party of India openly tells all the fighting women of India: your future lies with socialism, with the struggle for an alternative to the present system! Only a society freed from the domination of parasites and exploiters can fulfill the demand of women for a life of equality, dignity, security and prosperity. At the same time, such a system can come into being only if women, who are one-half of society, prepare and organise to fight for it. As women continue and escalate their struggle for emancipation, and as more and more women join that struggle, the closer will be that day when their cherished dreams for a better life for themselves and their families will bear fruit!

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