Revolutionary women speak truth to power – Workers World
The Women and Gender-Oppressed Caucus of Workers World Party sponsored a webinar on March 24 titled “Global Solidarity with Women and Gender-Oppressed Workers.” The webinar was part of a commemoration of Women’s History Month and International Workers’ Day.
Panelists included Norma Pérez of A Call to Action on Puerto Rico and a former teacher; Marie Kelly, registered nurse and member at large of National Nurses United; and Stéphanie Tromblay, who is a long-time union activist and member of the Communications Workers, and is of Huron and mixed descent from the Southeastern First Nations.
The webinar co-hosts were WWP Disability Justice and Rights Caucus member mYia X and WWP Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer+ Caucus member Ted Kelly. Palestinian activist and writer, Susan Abulhawa recorded an inspirational message for the webinar. WWP candidate Deborah Rodriguez created a beautiful slideshow with music, showing many of the struggles of women and oppressed people around the world.
Ted Kelly’s keynote address provided a historical overview of International Working Women’s Day. She quoted an article written by Kathy Durkin, a long-time fighter for reproductive rights: “At an International Socialist Women’s Conference held in Copenhagen 112 years ago, radical activists called for the annual celebration of an International Working Women’s Day to broaden global solidarity and strengthen ties among working women.
“These socialists lamented the terrible working conditions faced by female workers as they stream into the factories. One million women marched across Europe in protest at the IWWD’s first commemoration on March 8, 1911. Later that month in New York City, 146 working women – 123 of whom were women, mostly elderly immigrants aged 14 to 23 – were killed. at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. Radical women workers called for strikes and demonstrations and kept the struggle in the streets.
“In less than two years, March 8 has also become synonymous with anti-imperialism. Women across Europe demonstrated against their own imperialist governments that plunged the world into war in 1914.
“Workers World supports struggles against racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and physical and sexual abuse on and off the job. We call for reproductive justice everywhere. We categorically support Indigenous women around the world, leading the fight against corporate destruction of the planet.
“We applaud the fights for organizing, with workers of color, women and gender nonconforming people at the forefront, including Starbucks and Amazon workers here in the United States”
Connect all problems
When asked why every issue is a women’s issue in the struggles against capitalism and imperialism, and how important is the need for global solidarity, each of the panelists provided unique answers. Pérez said, “Women are leading the liberation movement while still facing gender oppression. Women have been the first to suffer from the current pandemic economic crisis, forced out of jobs without childcare, working from home or facing anti-woman attitudes.
“This global crisis of capitalism does not care about people’s survival, while women are suffering in the workplace and are at risk, especially as teachers and health workers. We women are the first to face food and water shortages and war. We are on the front line, leading the fight. The revolutionary movement must continue to grow. The face of struggle in the world is the face of a woman. It is we who face oppression; it is we who are fighting back!
“It is urgent to continue the anti-capitalist feminist struggle until we free ourselves from patriarchy, imperialism and reactionary local regimes. For example, in Puerto Rico, women earn between 20% and 39% less than men who have the same education and do the same job. The higher the education and the age, the greater the pay gap.
Although women prepare more academically and constitute the majority of the population, they are a minority in the labor market (40%). In administrative positions, the majority are men. Some 86% of sexual harassment and abuse cases are perpetrated against women; femicides are on the rise.
Perez concluded: “Everything is constantly changing. I am in continuous construction to gain knowledge about what I didn’t even know was changing, what younger people are teaching me, and what I can share and be open to learning from different perspectives. Now is not the time to wait; now we fight. We need to share our experiences, what we are suffering, and be humble and listen and learn from others and build community. It’s because I’m a teacher; I still have faith that we can change our mentality and find commonalities.
Tribute to the workers
Tromblay remarked, “For women of color, the threat remains whether they, their families and their children will be safe from police, racist attacks, as well as the global threat of femicide.
“And for Indigenous women, the threat of violence in general manifests itself in the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and all Indigenous people. There are also missing and murdered boys and men.
“The treatment of women and of all workers – who, under the profit system, give up a third to a half of the hours of their daily lives to corporate bosses – has worsened to the point where we have seen teachers leave the country for wildcat strikes before the pandemic. And the workers are fighting again for the unions! Starbucks workers, who are often LGBTQ+, women and gender-oppressed workers, are on track to run for union office. »
Tromblay emphasized, “We salute all Amazon workers, working in horrific, even deadly conditions, who are fighting for a union. And I’d like to salute the 150 Meow Wolf Workers Collective/CWA here in Santa Fe, who are negotiating their first contract this week.
Marie Kelly replied: ‘The pandemic has made it impossible to hide how broken America’s profit-driven healthcare system is, but nurses working in hospitals knew it firsthand, long before the nearly one million deaths from COVID-19 in this country.
“Now is the time to actively participate in campaigns against for-profit health care and stand up for nurses in their fight for safe staffing ratios between patients and nurses. The nursing profession remains a predominantly female profession. Nurses experience the misogyny and oppression of patriarchy, despite being the essential workers caring 24/7 for the sick and dying.
“The so-called nursing shortage is not due to a lack of nurses, but rather the deliberate understaffing of hospital administrations in order to maximize profits. Nurses see the dangers here and are furious at being forced to either provide inadequate patient care or leave the profession.
She went on to say, “It’s a fact that the American population is less healthy than most industrialized countries, and that’s directly linked to the for-profit health insurance industry, big pharma and hospitable capitalists. Only a universal, single-payer system will ensure that health care is a right everyone is entitled to.
Deborah Rodriguez commented, “I realized how important it is to normalize that women are the face of wrestling. But even those who are not in a movement are literally struggling to get by day by day, the regular workers, the black and oppressed women, the incarcerated women.
“I remember it’s just a lot of women who struggle day to day. And they may not have all the analysis and all the depth that’s being shared here today. but only if they knew, I would like them to know and join in. So the fight for us is just to get them on our side.
mYia X said, “I had the book ‘Vietnam Women’ at my fingertips. Madame Nguyễn Thị Bình spoke about political awareness. She mentioned that [the Vietnamese] organized village by village. Those who knew how to fight taught others.
“And when we say brick by brick, block by block, you know how vital it is for each of us to really do this political education to become an internationalist. As we sit in the belly of the beast or wherever we are, when imperialism tries to make us think like we have amnesia, like what we see them doing right now; we have never seen this before.
Go to youtube.com/watch?v=cDvYi-S22ts to watch the webinar.