Statement of the Central Committee of Communist Ghadar Party of India, 8th March, 2016
As we celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March, the struggle of women has advanced to such an extent that no state can claim to be a democracy and not recognize that women have the same rights as men, by virtue of being human. In addition, they also have specific rights by virtue of their role in human reproduction. In our country and other capitalist countries, the recognition of women’s rights remains a formality. It remains nothing but empty words on paper, which does not satisfy the needs of women. Women are demanding that the society and State must ensure that their rights are protected both by law and in practice.
We are passing through a time when women are faced with an extremely dangerous situation, both in our country and on the world scale. Violation of women’s rights has reached unbearable levels as a result of the continuing crisis of the global imperialist system and the response of the leading capitalist governments to this crisis.
The most powerful states of the world, headed by the United States of America, are on a fascist and warmongering course. Millions of people have been forced to flee from the war zones in West Asia and seek refuge in Europe. Lakhs have been turned into widows and orphans with no one to support them.
Within the US and European countries, women are out on the streets protesting against their governments and their anti-social policies. They are demanding an end to imperialist wars and to the attacks on people’s rights in the name of “austerity”, “national security” and “war against terrorism”.
In India, the level of economic uncertainty, political persecution and the degree of violence against women have all risen to intolerable levels. As capitalist growth has accelerated in recent decades, lakhs of Indian women have been drawn into specific sectors like the IT, BPO, garment manufacture and other sectors of export-oriented production and services. They are put to work under the most oppressive conditions at abysmal wages and are the first to be thrown out of work without any compensation. At the workplace, women are paid less than male workers who are doing the same job. Existing laws regarding maternity leave and the provision of crèche facilities are regularly and openly flouted even by the biggest multinational companies. Lakhs of Anganwadi workers and other women employed in public services are deprived of rights and benefits by keeping them on temporary contracts without ever regularizing them. Working women are not allowed to organise themselves into unions and fight for their rights.
Accelerated capitalist development since the nineties has enormously enriched the monopoly houses while leading to widespread poverty and misery in both rural and urban India. Peasant distress has led to suicides, leaving widowed women to fend for the family on their own. Millions have been forced to migrate to the cities and live in the most appalling conditions that prevail in urban slums.
Blatant attacks on the dignity and security of women in society are tolerated and defended by the representatives of the ruling class. We have witnessed, in recent times, how prominent leaders of political parties who are supposed to represent us in Parliament and State Legislatures have expressed the most backward views on women. They have even justified the most heinous crimes against women, blaming women themselves for the attacks on their dignity and liberty.
World leaders, from the US President to the Indian Prime Minister, declare every year on 8th March their dedication to “close the gender gap”. However, the gap between the rich and the poor as well as the gap between men and women both keep widening over time. The leaders of capitalist states do not want people to address the question as to why this is the case. They present the problems of women as if they are unconnected with the nature of the economic system and political power. They deliberately hide the origin and distort the content of International Women’s Day.
The 8th of March was celebrated as International Women’s Day for the first time in 1910, at a time when women were entering the work force in large numbers in North America and Europe. Working women were becoming an important contingent of the struggle against capitalist exploitation. They recognised that women will remain oppressed as long as those who work remain an exploited class in society. They boldly declared that the path to their emancipation lies in the struggle for the transformation of society from capitalist to socialism, that is, for the elimination of all forms of exploitation and oppression.
Life experience confirms the correctness of that historical conclusion drawn by working women in 1910. The further development of capitalism, at its highest stage of imperialism, has certainly not led to the liberation of women. It has led to the worsening of their conditions in many respects. It has led and continues to lead to repeated crises, to destructive wars of conquest, to ever increasing degrees of exploitation of labour, of parasitism and corruption in social life and destruction of the natural environment.
Thus, an important lesson that women must draw from the entire experience of the past century and more is that capitalist development cannot and will not emancipate women.
In our country, women suffer from multiple forms of exploitation and oppression as capitalism develops while preserving the remnants of feudalism. The State perpetuates caste and communal division. A variety of obscurantist beliefs, patriarchy, rituals and customs restrict women’s freedom and reinforce their subordinate role within the family and in society. Hence the emancipation of Indian women requires a social revolution that will get rid of capitalism along with the remnants of feudal and caste-based oppression, and establish a State and system geared to ensure prosperity and protection for all.
Women have been actively opposing the capitalist offensive of the Indian bourgeoisie. They have been in the forefront of the mass opposition to the program of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation, ever since it was launched 25 years ago.
Women have been raising their voices against the everyday violence that they are facing in every corner of this country. They have opposed the most horrific crimes of gang rape committed by the army and security forces in Kashmir, Manipur, Chattisgarh and other states. Women have been active participants in the struggle against communal violence and state terrorism, which have accompanied the so-called economic reform program, irrespective of whether the Congress, BJP or a Third Front has been in charge of government.
They have demanded their rights as workers, peasants and tribal peoples. They have demanded their right to security and dignity.
The official response to the demands of Indian women has been to promise to accommodate more women within the ruling establishment and to enact more stringent laws against rape and sexual harassment. Life experience has shown that better laws do not address the problem because the law enforcing agencies themselves are notorious for harassing and raping women. Accommodation of more women in high places does not change the nature of the economic system, the state machinery or the political process.
The existing political process is designed to exclude the vast majority of women and men from having any say in decisions that affect them. Through periodic elections, one or another party comes to power to carry out the same agenda of enriching the capitalist monopoly houses. The vast majority of people are reduced to vote banks. We have no mechanism to select candidates of our choice or to hold the elected representatives to account. There is no way to recall them if they fail to fulfill their promises.
Ending the monopoly of political power in the hands of an exploiting minority and its criminalised parties is the first and necessary step to open the path for profound revolutionary transformations in society. What women and the working people need is political power in their hands so that they can set the agenda and change their conditions. Women need to fight alongside the majority of exploited men for the goal of establishing a system where they are empowered to participate in making decisions that affect the conditions in society.
An extremely dangerous situation is being created at the present time. The big capitalists have installed the BJP regime headed by Modi, to continue with the anti-social offensive and aggressively pursue their imperialist aims. The state machinery is being used to attack anyone who dares to oppose or question the government’s policies. Students demanding freedom from capitalism and the caste system have been charged with Sedition. Passions are being aroused against them by branding them as “anti-national”. The ruling class is resorting to state terror and inciting sectarian violence to split the unity of the fighting women and men.
The situation calls for building and strengthening the unity and solidarity of people in defence of our rights, irrespective of ideological differences. Women need to be in the forefront of the struggle, shoulder to shoulder with working men, in defence of the rights of all.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Communist Ghadar Party calls on all women to unite and fight for an end to the anti-worker, anti-peasant, anti-women and anti-national program of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation accompanied by communal and fascist terror. Let us advance the struggle in defence of our rights with the perspective of ushering in a State and economic system that ensures prosperity and protection for all, with no discrimination, oppression or exploitation on the basis of gender, caste, class or any other consideration.
Long live International Women’s Day!
Unite and fight for freedom from all forms of exploitation, oppression and discrimination!