On International Women’s Day

Submitted by vivek on Mon, 02/03/2009 - 04:30

No to shifting the burden of capitalist crisis onto the backs of working people!

No to warmongering and tension in our region!

Forward with the struggle for people’s empowerment, for peace and socialism!

International Women’s Day will be celebrated on March 8 in India and all over the world as the day marking the struggle for women’s rights and their emancipation.  In the nearly one hundred years since this day was first proclaimed as International Women’s Day, the struggle has come a long way.  Women have advanced in asserting their rights, learned many important lessons and face challenging times ahead.

International Women’s Day was, from its inception, 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 revolutionary agenda.  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 guarantee the rights of women, as women and as human beings.

One of the most important lessons that have been learned is that the struggle of women for their rights and emancipation cannot be divorced from the struggle for the rights and emancipation of all exploited and oppressed people.  It is the social system that is at the root of women’s age-old subjugation.  In fighting for their rights, women always need to keep the perspective of fighting for a social system that stands against all forms of exploitation and that enshrines justice, equality and dignity for all human beings.

This year women in India and all over the world are faced with the consequences of the unprecedented global crisis of the capitalist-imperialist system.  As hundreds of thousands of working women and men lose their jobs or sources of income, as lakhs of people lose their hard-earned savings, as countless young men and women face the frightening prospect of unemployment just as they are entering adult life, women as always will have to bear the heaviest burden. 

Under the prevailing capitalist system, whenever the economy is on an upswing, the capitalists draw women and young girls into the labour market, super-exploiting them by taking advantage of their vulnerability.  But when the cycle of boom turns to bust, women are the first to be thrown out of work.  This is often accompanied by an ideological assault that claims that ‘women’s place is in the home’ and that they should not aspire to the same jobs or careers or freedoms as the rest of society.

Today, in the conditions of severe economic crisis, all the efforts of the capitalist class, and of the governments and political parties that do their bidding, are being directed towards shifting the burden of the crisis onto the backs of the working people.  We can see how bail-outs, tax breaks and all kinds of handouts are being made by governments to bolster the profits of the big capitalists who are responsible for the crisis, while not a thing is being done for those who find themselves facing ruin because they have lost their livelihood or savings. 

When the Indian bourgeoisie unfurled its program of liberalization and privatization in 1991, women’s organizations were right in the forefront of the struggle against this anti-people and anti-national course. The job cuts, benefits and wage cuts, and other forms of attacks on the livelihood of people today is a direct product of the capitalist reform program. The acute crisis of the economy today has completely exposed the claims of our rulers that liberalisation and privatisation will lead to increasing job opportunities and economic independence for women.  It has also exposed the myth that it is possible to have capitalism and capitalist reforms with a ‘human face’.

The crisis also exposes the high degree of concentration of political power in this so-called largest democracy of the world.  Decisions on how the social surplus is deployed, whose claims take priority, who deserves state protection, are all decided by a tiny elite.  The vast majority of women and men have no say.  They are hapless victims in this capitalist democracy, where parties in power and in the opposition carry out all kinds of crimes to gather votes, including communal violence and terror among the people.

It is this capitalist system and the imperialist strivings of our rulers today that is responsible for the cause of peace and security in our region once again being under serious threat. Not a day passes without hearing the rumblings of war, without charges and counter-charges flying between the states of India and Pakistan.  Taking advantage of these conditions of heightened tension and animosity, and further aggravating them while appearing to play the role of “honest broker”, US imperialism is thrusting itself more and more into our region. 

From our bitter experience over more than six decades, Indian women know that warmongering and hostility with our neighbours have not solved any problem.  On the contrary, it has only led to increased suffering for people on both sides of the border, increasing tension and insecurity, while increasing the opportunities for further interference by foreign powers.  Women suffer the most from increased army deployment, from the disruption of normal life, and from their near and dear ones becoming cannon-fodder in wars.  Women have always been in the forefront in the struggle for peace.  At the present time, the women of India must come out forcefully against all warmongering in the region, against all attempts to paint our neighbouring peoples as our enemies.

The alternative to capitalism is socialism, a system of society geared to fulfill the ever increasing material and cultural needs of all members of society, without permitting anyone to exploit the labour of another.  To usher in such a superior system, working women and men have to become their own rulers, truly empowered to take decisions on all issues that concern society.  They must make laws that guarantee their rights and establish mechanisms to punish those who violate their rights. 

The ruling class spreads the illusion that the rights of women can be ensured within the existing system of capitalist democracy and its political process.  The aim of spreading such an illusion is to keep the women’s movement bound hand and foot to the parties of the status quo.

The times are calling on the women of India to once again be in the forefront of struggle against the capitalist economic offensive and against imperialist war in our region.  The capitalist reform program must be halted and replaced with a socialist reform program – a program that would lift Indian society out of crisis, place political power in the hands of the working people and open the path to replace capitalism by socialism through revolution.

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IWD Statement    International Women's Day    Mar 1-15 2009    Statements    Popular Movements    

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