Onward with the struggle for women’s emancipation
Statement of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, February 26, 2015
March 8 is celebrated by millions of women around the world as a day of struggle for women’s emancipation. Women and men across many countries will pledge to continue their struggle in the prevailing context of war, destruction and extreme division between a minority rich and the majority fighting for survival. The struggle for women’s emancipation is a struggle for the right to live the life of a human being, with dignity and self-respect. It is very closely tied up with the struggle to destroy the old, and bring in the new, a society that will secure us the right to life, livelihood, fulfilling motherhood, with full political and economic rights of a human being in the 21st century. Women have been in the forefront of this struggle for more than a hundred years now, and will carry on in struggle till that new society is born.
This is what history has borne out. 8th March originated in the militant struggle of working women against capitalist exploitation. Its origin is integrally linked with the movement for socialism. It has, since then, despite all the efforts of the bourgeoisie to hide this fact and hijack the day, remained a struggle of women for their rights and emancipation. The struggle of the women’s movement has not been a struggle for mere equality with men. Mere equality with men within this exploitative capitalist system means sharing the burden of poverty, unemployment and insecurity equally with men, which women are already enduring!
In India, the prevailing exploitative capitalist system is an anti-social system that is based on maximisation of private capitalist profit. Today, it is a tiny minority, the financial oligarchy, which is economically and politically all-powerful. This system guarantees nothing but poverty and misery to those who labour in the factories and fields. It guarantees nothing but hunger and death to women who labour outside and inside their homes to bring their children into the world and nurture them, against all odds.
The economic and social conditions faced by women - their education, access to health, lack of basic civic amenities such as clean drinking water, sanitation for millions of working women in urban slums, lack of child care facilities, absence of even the most basic conditions for human reproduction -- are a manifestation of the capitalist orientation of the economy -- with the State and the government in power serving the interests of the biggest monopoly capitalists, Indian and foreign. Even official statistics cannot deny that thousands of women are dying as they give birth to their babies, that lakhs of infants die even before they reach two years and thousands of female babies are murdered. The recently published sex ratio of only 943 females to 1000 men is a stark reflection of this reality.
The conditions of the majority of people in contrast to that of a minority clearly shows that it has not mattered even to the slightest degree as to which political party or formation has been in power, at the centre or in the states, over the last six and a half decades. They are parties of the bourgeoisie and implement the anti-worker, anti-peasant and anti-people agenda of the bourgeoisie. The BJP-led NDA coalition which came to power through the General Elections in May 2014 is hurtling the country, and its workers, peasants, women and youth further down the same path. It defends the monopoly claims of the bourgeoisie and the system that exploits the masses of workers and peasants. It is drawing the country into the sinister embrace of the US, which is a clear path to war and destruction in our country. More money is allocated to military spending and purchase of the most sophisticated weapons than on the most basic services for people. The economy is oriented to serve the interests of the bourgeoisie, Indian and foreign, and not to fulfill the needs of the people. The state apparatus defends this economic system oriented towards maximum plunder at home and abroad.
Time and again, in the last nine months, since he became the Prime Minister, Modi has given the slogan of “sab ke sath, sab ka vikas.” This is a claim that his government will orient development in everyone’s interest, both the rich and poor, both those who own the means of production and those who are selling their labour power. This promise has been made to the people by every prime minister before, through different slogans. At this time, the central and state governments have launched a full-scale attack on the rights of labour to organize, to demand better working conditions and remuneration. Rights won through the struggles of working men and women are being denied through liberalization of labour laws, in order to encourage faster capitalist growth and greater investment by private capitalist monopolies, Indian and foreign. Disinvestment of public resources, created out of the wealth and labour of our people, is being planned on a large scale. Huge number of workers, both women and men, are being laid off in several sectors such as banking, insurance, IT etc., even as the government is taking steps to encourage huge amounts of foreign investment and Indian private capitalist investment, allegedly to create more jobs for our youth, under the slogan of "make in India".
The reality is that capitalism, at its present stage of imperialism, is a most exploitative system. It cannot bring about better conditions for women, just as it cannot do so for the masses of working people. The ruling class tries to cover this up with lies and deceit. Its political representatives, whom it brings to power to form the government of this party or that, are past masters in saying what people want to hear but acting strictly in the interests of the ruling capitalist class.
Take the issue of the girl child - the Indian State and its successive governments have allowed rampant female foeticide, while paying lip service to the cause of the girl child and women. The latest slogan of “beti bachao, beti padao” is yet another example of this cruel hypocrisy and fraud that is played on the people. Why does female foeticide, maternal mortality, infant mortality, the rape of girls and women, the countless atrocities against women by the very armed forces that are supposed to “protect” the people keep taking place? Why is it that a majority of working women and men across the country are so exploited, living in inhuman conditions at one pole, while a minority of super-rich live in luxury at the other pole? Why do the working people and women continue to be victims of massacres organized from time to time on the basis of religion, caste, etc.? The answer lies in the capitalist system and dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
Likewise, great concern is expressed for women’s safety by the prime minister, the government and various political parties, through the bourgeois media. Two years ago, following the notorious rape case in the country’s capital, the then UPA government made promises of more policing, more expenditure on security. The Modi government also made similar promises. The escalating anarchy and violence, criminalization of society in all spheres, the growing state organized sectarian violence and state terror is not going to make our society any safer for women, whatever the government may promise.
A recent PUDR report has recorded the blatant crimes committed routinely by security forces including acts of sexual violence on the tribal population in several villagers of Chhattisgarh. This is exactly what has been happening also in Kashmir, the North east and other areas of the country which are under the occupation of the Indian state’s army and internal security forces. The present government, like those before, is opposed to revoking black laws such as AFSPA, under which the armed forces and security forces have unbridled right to commit the worst crimes against women. There is no hope that the guilty will be punished, when we see how the political leaders of the present government, like before, have got away and come into positions of power, even after masterminding the worst kind of communal violence and state terror. Can women be safe in these conditions?
Indian women, with all the experience of the last so many decades, cannot have any hope that their oppression and exploitation can be eliminated within this system. The capitalist class swears by democracy but in fact the political system is nothing but the dictatorship of the capitalist class through the state apparatus under its control and managed by its chosen political parties. While the farce of elections goes on periodically, the orientation of the economy, the policies and all legislation is in the interests of this class. The majority of people – workers, peasants, and all the toilers are marginalized from political power and any decision making. This is how this system of parliamentary democracy is meant to be. Just as illusions of “sabka vikas” is sought to be maintained, so illusions of “democracy” and “republic”, i.e. rule by the people, is maintained.
The exploitation and oppression of women is inevitable in this system which puts the interests of a minority above everything else. This is what the historical experience of women also tells us. Women cannot be liberated unless the society is rid of all forms of oppression and capitalist exploitation. For this, the working people must have political power to set the agenda and the course of the economy and society. This capitalist State has to be replaced by a State of Workers and Peasants. Such a State will be an instrument to establish socialism and communism. It will be an instrument of rule to reorient the economy in the interests of the majority and to give full scope, through a new political process, for the participation of all women and men in the affairs of society.
Communist Ghadar Party calls on all toiling women to unite and fight shoulder to shoulder with working men for this goal, because it is only such a society that will provide the basis for women’s liberation. Towards this end, we must organize ourselves in our workplaces and mohallas and residential colonies to challenge the existing system and its rulers. We must not believe in any of the deception that is daily practiced by the bourgeoisie to lull us into not taking up the real struggle.
We must oppose all moves that will draw us into an imperialist war. We must oppose privatization and liberalization of any sector of the Indian economy. We must militantly oppose all moves to make social services like education and health into a source of private profit. We must defend the rights of labour that have been won through struggle of the working class from further attacks. We must fight tooth and nail against handing over public resources to monopolies – our land, mineral and water resources must be safeguarded and utilised in the interests of the working majority. We must oppose cutting back on spending on essential services for the people and increasing military spending. We must fight for the repeal of draconian laws such as the AFSPA and the UAPA. We must demand and fight for punishment for all those guilty of organising communal massacres and anarchy and violence, and of crimes against women.
Unite and Organise for the struggle for women’s emancipation!