95th anniversary of International Women’s Day

On the International Womens' Day We Resolve that
We Will Work to Organise Ourselves to Establish a Modern Democracy

On the International Womens' Day We Resolve that
We Will Work to Organise Ourselves to Establish a Modern Democracy
Where Working Women and Men are the Decision Makers!

This year marks the 95th anniversary of International Women's Day. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, working women in North America began their organised struggle to change the slavish conditions of their existence. They rebelled against the authority that was responsible for their slavery. Today, nearly a century later, women are still in struggle for changing their conditions of life and work. They are demanding security of life and livelihood, clean drinking water and sanitation, decent and secure housing, education, and health care, including safe motherhood. They are staking their claim to participate as full members of society in their own right.

The vast majority of Indian women are living and working in conditions that are totally unacceptable in a modern society. They remain victims of violence in many forms, such as foeticide, infanticide, sexual assaults, dowry deaths and other barbaric customs. They are victims of state terror, of communal and other forms of organised political violence unleashed by parties in power, wielding the official police and armed forces. They are faced with growing insecurity of life and livelihood, ill health, illiteracy and poverty. Women workers face super-exploitation and denial of basic labour rights.

Ten years ago, the Government of India agreed to the Platform for Action to be implemented in order to achieve the goals stated by the Beijing Declaration. These were: the elimination of poverty, access to education, health, security against violence, and economic and political empowerment of women. Such poor progress has been recorded in these indicators over the past ten years that the official spokespersons are unable to hide the truth. There is far too much failure than success. The spokespersons of the Indian bourgeoisie are engaging in deception and lies to gloss over the problems.

The women of India raised their voices, starting in the 1970s, against the violation of their rights and in support of their claims. They expressed their discontent with the Nehruvian 'socialistic pattern of society', and the so-called mixed economy where capitalism was supposed to thrive alongside the fulfillment of the needs of the people. Women protested against the non-fulfillment of what was promised in 1947– including the persistence of feudal remnants and age old barbaric customs that kept women in bondage. They protested against the fact that such basic needs as reproductive health care and elementary education remained noble policy objectives on paper.

Women were extremely active in the struggle against all forms of state terrorism, including communal violence. They forced the state and central governments to pass laws to protect them. They joined the masses on the streets in protest against the terror unleashed by the State that is supposed to ensure protection for all. Women continue to be in the forefront of the struggle against draconian laws such as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, under which women who dare to stand up for their rights are raped and killed by the armed forces with impunity, as in Manipur and other parts of north-east India.

Having raised the level of their organised struggle in the 1970s and 1980s, the women of India were well placed to play a leading role in the early 1990s, against the drive of the bourgeoisie towards the globalisation of Indian capital through liberalisation and privatisation. The women's movement raised the banner of uncompromising struggle against this anti-social offensive of capital in the post-Soviet Union period. They refused to compromise on the principle that the State is duty bound to ensure prosperity and protection for all. They refused to accept sweet words and tall promises as substitutes for actual guarantee of human rights and women's rights.

From the experience of their struggles over several decades, Indian women have recognised that it is capitalism that is responsible for perpetuating the remnants of feudalism and all forms of enslavement and degradation of women. They have also recognised the need for political power in order to change their intolerable conditions. Women have raised the demand that they must have a say in decisions that affect their lives, and a say in ensuring that agreed upon decisions are implemented.

The ruling bourgeoisie responded to the demand of women for their political empowerment with offers of reserved quotas and special provisions for more women to sit in elected bodies. More women have indeed become members of political parties and of elected bodies in the 1990s. Some have even been Chief Ministers at the state level and ministers of cabinet rank at the Centre. This has however not changed the position of the woman in Indian society. It has not ended, or even significantly reduced the degree of her discrimination and oppression. Women must now sum up the experience of the last two decades so that their struggle for empowerment can advance.

One of the important lessons from past experience is that the system of capitalist democracy and its political process of representative democracy are not designed to enable women to have any real say in decision making or in their implementation. Capitalist democracy concentrates all decision-making powers in the hands of the trusted parties of the capitalist class. The party dominated political process ensures that the people get to vote but do not get to decide what kind of government is formed and what course it will follow. A minority of big business interests makes these vital decisions.

Elections are organised to fool the people and to resolve the contradictions within the capitalist class over which party is better suited to fulfill its class interest at a particular time. The real business of administering the economy in the interest of capitalist-imperialist plunder and private profit maximisation is carried on behind the scenes by the bureaucracy.

The overthrow of capitalism is the condition for taking the anti-feudal, anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggles to conclusion. It is the condition for the complete emancipation of women from all forms of exploitation, oppression and discrimination. The essential condition for opening the path for such a revolutionary transformation is the establishment of the rule of workers, peasants, women and youth — a modern democracy in which the people are the decision-makers.

The demand and striving for political power — for a say in decision-making and in ensuring their implementation — is the most forward-looking perspective for the women's movement today. The essential condition for realizing this demand is the thorough-going renewal of the political process and political system of parliamentary democracy. Women must reject the path of accommodation within the existing political process. They must actively participate in innovating a new process of decision-making, wherein the masses of women, youth and working men are together the masters of society.

Women must build and strengthen their own organisations, as well as take the lead in building and strengthening the united front of struggle of all the oppressed. Women must come forward to build sangharsh samitis, or committees of resistance and struggle, in the mohallas and bastis, wherever they live or work. They must create forums and mechanisms for women to raise their concerns, the concerns of their families and neighbours for a life free from violence, with security of livelihood, and for a decent human life. It is by building such committees of struggle that women will experience their united strength and realise their resolve to change their conditions.

Such samitis, built across the country, will shake the foundations of the existing discredited, anti-people system of democracy, wherein the majority of people are used as pawns to maintain a rule that completely disempowers them. The committees of struggle run by the women and men of each locality can and must become the bodies that initiate the legislation for policies and programs that will shape the economic conditions of the people. Women need to be able to send their best fighters to these decision-making bodies, and enjoy the right to be able to recall the person they elected at any time. Political parties must not be permitted to wield power in their hands. They must organise to see that the workers, peasants, women and youth are able to rule themselves. Such a revolutionary break with the existing political order is a necessary and crucial step in the struggle for the empowerment and emancipation of women.

Women need the vanguard communist party to lead the struggle for the emancipation of women and all of society from all forms of exploitation and oppression of one human being by another. The communist party needs women to be in the front ranks of the struggle to defeat the bourgeoisie and open the door to the progress of society. It is the experience of the Communist Ghadar Party of India that women are among the most courageous and uncompromising fighters against capitalism, the remnants of feudalism, colonialism and imperialist plunder.

International Women's Day 2005 is an occasion for women and all progressive forces to resolve to break with the outdated party dominated parliamentary system. It is an occasion to resolve to build sangharsh samitis as potential organs of people's power.

Let us ensure that March 8, 2005 becomes a celebration of the fighting spirit of women down the ages, and the beginning of a new chapter in the struggle for women's emancipation!

Hail International Women's Day!

Towards a Workers' and Peasants' Democracy!

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