Women throughout the world are organizing rallies, marches and gatherings of all kinds for March 8, International Women’s Day, to hail and celebrate their fight to affirm their rights and for peace, freedom and democracy. On International Women’s Day, women assert their claim to a say and control over the affairs of society and salute both those fighting in the present and those who have blazed a path forward for women and society throughout history. The struggle to affirm the collective and individual rights of women is part and parcel of the fight to uphold the rights of all and win emancipation for all. It is part and parcel of the struggle of the working class to constitute the nation and vest sovereignty in the people.
One hundred and ten years ago, International Women’s Day was established to highlight the fight of women for their rights as workers, and for their right to vote and to take their place in the vanguard of all fields of human endeavour. International Women’s Day also became a day for women to highlight their opposition to war and aggression. During those early years many brave women stood in opposition to the first imperialist world war and this tradition is alive today in the determined battle to establish anti-war governments and make sure peace prevails.
In celebrating International Women’s Day, women speak in their own names and affirm their particular rights as the reproducers of life and their demand to bring into being a society where all human beings can flourish. Such a society can only exist when the well-being and needs of women, and the children they bear, are put in first place.
The Fight to Affirm Rights
Women are in the thick of the battle to affirm the right to speak, organize and decide; and the right to participate consciously and actively in taking and implementing the decisions that affect their lives. Women have said No means No! to every form of discrimination and affront to their dignity as human persons. The stand “Not without consent!” is to affirm the right to decide.
In opposition to the rights of women, governments and state institutions are escalating the anti-social offensive with the wrecking of education, health and seniors’ care, and care for the most vulnerable. These anti-social assaults target the mostly women workers who provide the care and services the people and society need. The burgeoning movements throughout the country against the anti-social offensive are led by the mostly women workers in the public service who have raised the battle cry to Increase Investments in Social Programs and Stop Paying the Rich! to make Canada fit for human beings.
Women throughout history have fought patriarchy in all its forms, including father right and husband right. They have even had to struggle to be legally recognized as persons. A woman’s testimony in a court of law hearing a charge of assault on herself was not considered valid until the 1980s.
In workplaces, women fight to establish collectives to defend their rights and beat back the attacks of the ruling circles and employers on the right of workers to organize collectives in defence of their claim on the value they produce and other terms of employment. As part of fighting the anti-social offensive in the education, health care and other public service sectors, women are affirming their right as workers to decide what wages and working conditions are acceptable to them and allow them to do their jobs properly and with dignity, and not to be dictated to by the ruling imperialist elite.
Women are in the front ranks in fighting against wrecking of education and healthcare and the attack on the rights of those providing the services. Photos from Quebec (top), Ontario and Alberta.
In politics, as the old forms of governing and institutions prove incapable of solving any problems, women have taken up the question of “who decides” and “who controls” and the need for democratic renewal and people’s empowerment. Women demand the right to lead society, along with all others, and solve the problems as they present themselves in ways that favour the majority. Women refuse to submit to a dysfunctional outdated system dominated by cartel parties which serve the private interests of a minority and executive police powers that can act with impunity to decide economic, political and social affairs of the people and society.
Refuse to Allow the Ruling Elite to Seize Control of International Women’s Day
The representatives of the financial oligarchy push their own version of the significance of International Women’s Day with the aim to deprive women of an outlook that serves their interests and rights. The ruling elite reduce what is relevant and significant for women to a grocery list of “what we have accomplished” and “work left to be done.” The suggestion is made that the state and government institutions are in the forefront of the battle for women’s rights and the executor in charge of what is left to be done on this front. In this way, they attempt to force women to the sidelines in the demeaning role of “holding the feet of the ruling elite to the fire,” where success is measured by the number of women who occupy the seats of power and are seen on television serving the financial oligarchy in positions of power, until of course they hesitate and do not. Women saw clearly last year what happens to women in the cabinets of the cartel parties who hesitate in their duty to serve the ruling imperialist elite and “slip up” by taking a stand against corruption and the dictate of the oligarchs.
Governments of the cartel parties and state institutions claim to uphold the rights of women and other high ideals but of course this is contingent on “what is possible.” Handing over billions of dollars to pay the rich and increase military spending is always within the realm of “possible” as that serves the narrow interests of the financial oligarchy. On the other hand, a national child care program, as part of education as a right of all and to affirm the rights of women, falls outside of the realm of “possible” and remains stuck for decades as a policy objective. The ruling elite and their governments refuse to recognize that in the socialized existence and economy of the modern world, the care of children and elders is the social responsibility of society.
The socially irresponsible governments and state institutions of the financial oligarchy even refuse to right historical wrongs and build new nation-to-nation relations with Indigenous peoples and pay reparations for what the colonialists have stolen and the crimes they have committed. The ruling elite still want to drive the Indigenous peoples from their territories to “open up the land” for exploitation of its natural resources. The disgrace of a modern Canada refusing to resolve the crisis of Indigenous housing, the lack of safe drinking water, the suppression of a viable economy creating mass unemployment, poverty, despair and youth suicides, and the infamy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls cannot be forgiven.
The violent assault and arrest of Unist’ot’en Matriarchs on their unceded territory, during a ceremony to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls on February 10, further reveals the reality of the racist Canadian state that lurks behind the honeyed words and hypocrisy of its phony reconciliation. The affirmation of the right to be of the Matriarchs and Indigenous women, youth and others is an inspiration to all. Their resolute and courageous stand and refusal to be intimidated by police and colonial court orders has been met with support from coast to coast and internationally.
In the spirit of building the New together and to advance the movement to affirm the rights of women, let us celebrate International Women’s Day and pledge to build the organizations necessary to win the battle for peace, freedom and democracy.
TML WEEKLY, March 7, 2020 – No. 7
– Christine Dandenault –
Facts and Figures on Conditions of Women in Canada
TML Weekly Supplement
International Women’s Day 2020
On this International Women’s Day 2020, TML Weekly dedicates this supplement to the fighting women everywhere. Throughout the colonial, anti-slavery and anti-imperialist periods, women have always been at the forefront of historical battles. In each era, they have addressed the conditions they faced and have taken action to oppose what blocked their affirmation and the birth of the New.