The 2019 International Working Women’s Day throws a powerful spotlight on working women’s lives and struggles in a period of global resistance to the increasing burdens and exploitation of capitalism and US imperialist interventions, invasions and coups. International Working Women’s Day is taking place in an historic era of global capitalist and imperialist decay and economic and political crises.
We commemorate many centuries of women’s struggles for equality, economic independence and respect against the exploitation, oppression and violence of the patriarchal class systems of slavery, feudalism, capitalism and imperialism. We celebrate working women’s strength, resilience and solidarity in the long struggles for liberation. We are inspired and pay our respects to the courageous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in their long and resolute struggles for the sovereignty of their communities, land and culture. We firmly support their fight against colonial oppression and dispossession. We continue to fight for respect and recognition of women as equals in the struggles of working people and in the revolutionary anti-imperialist struggle for socialism.
Women still have a long way to go
Discrimination and violence against women is endemic.
Australia is a country of immense wealth and super profits; yet more women are living in or below poverty. Government cuts and privatisation of public and community services have led to skyrocketing living costs hitting working class women hardest. Many working women, especially migrant women, endure insecure low paid work under the constant threat of unemployment and homelessness.
The ruling class of multinational corporations and big business intensifies attacks on hard won workplace rights and unions that offer some protection to working women. Immense wealth and super profits are created from Australia’s natural resources and by the labour of millions of workers, half of them women. Where is this wealth going and who benefits from this wealth? The capitalist class of multinational corporations seize most of this wealth and tells governments how to run the country for big business interests. They pay little tax or refuse to pay any at all. We say nationalise the multinationals and use this wealth to benefit all working people. It will go a long way in lifting and improving women’s lives. Women are still fighting for:
• Equal pay for equal work; and equal pay for work of equal value in all industries
• Increased wages for all workers – Raise the pay of early childhood educators
• Workplace rights and an end to insecure work – Change the Rules to empower women
• Lift Newstart and Single Parents’ Benefits to a living wage
• Full government funding for affordable community controlled childcare
• Priority funding for emergency housing and support services for women and children living in or fleeing domestic violence
• Vigorous enforcement of laws to end harassment and discrimination of women
• Legally enforceable rights for family leave and domestic violence leave in all industries
• End gender and sexual violence against women. Government funded compulsory education programs in schools, workplaces and communities, promoting equality and respect for girls and women.
• Ban commercial profit-driven culture that commodifies women as sex objects, domestic servants and subservient to men
Every achievement and improvement in women’s economic and social conditions has been wrung out of capitalism through struggle by women in workplaces and communities. But the volumes of legislation to alleviate discrimination, social and economic inequality, harassment, abuse and violence against women are not empowered with strong enforcement provisions.
Capitalism in Australia is dominated mainly by foreign multinational corporations and finance capital. The demands of working women flow into the struggles for an independent and socialist Australia.
Class and the exploitation of women
For centuries before socialist women declared International Working Women’s Day on 8 March 1909, generations of women resisted and rebelled against the oppression, exploitation, violence and abuse of women in the patriarchal class systems of slavery and feudalism. Patriarchy emerged with the rise of private property and the division of society into two main classes.
Capitalism developed economically out of feudalism, giving birth to the organised working class and its historical revolutionary task of overthrowing capitalism and replacing it with socialism.
Many women previously tied to the domestic and rural serfdom of feudal societies were thrown into the capitalist social relations of production becoming part of the exploited working class, wage slaves. The rise of the working class and its revolutionary socialist ideology and politics created conditions and compelled working women to organise collectively as a politically conscious force in the struggle against oppression and exploitation.
However, the capitalist class system did not abolish patriarchy, only adapted it to continue the class exploitation. Like slavery and feudalism before it, capitalism relies on the continuing domination by men to sustain the double exploitation of women and divide the working class. The development of the capitalist economy is based on private ownership of the means of production that reduces everything to a commodity to be bought and sold. Capitalist relations of production create a culture that commercialises and commodifies women as objects and possessions for sexual gratification and exploitation by men and for profit.
The patriarchy of capitalist economy and society generally cast women as inferior with fewer rights and the private property of men with whom they enter a marriage or partnership relationship. Capitalism exploits and oppresses working women at work and in social relations. The capitalist class as a whole exploits and benefits from paid and unpaid family work done mostly by women at home. Without this work, the labour power of current and new generations of workers necessary for the survival of capitalism could not be created or maintained. For the overwhelming majority of working women exploitation at work is multiplied by the added responsibility as main carers of families, children, the elderly, the sick and family members with disabilities – for a pittance of government support, or nothing at all.
In over 120 years of struggle women have achieved some important social and legislative improvements. But the continuing exploitation, discrimination, abuse and the burdens and stresses facing working women at work and at home continue. Today under the increasing weight of deep capitalist and imperialist crisis and wars the hardships and difficulties for ordinary women are intensifying.
The Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) fights alongside working women for economic and social equality, respect and an end to the violence, abuse and exploitation of women. The CPA (M-L) vigorously upholds equality and respect for women in the Party and in the people’s struggles. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination, sexism and gender inequality, abuse and violence against women.
The double exploitation, inequality, abuse and violence against women cannot be eradicated under capitalism. Socialism will create the necessary conditions for women to achieve their full potential, economic independence, equality and respect in all sectors of society. In a socialist system, working women will be empowered to run the society as equals to men for the benefit of all working people.
Women fight to end exploitation, inequality, violence and imperialist war
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Women fight to end exploitation, inequality, violence and imperialist war
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