Thursday, March 9, 2023

Capitalism has nothing to offer working women except exploitation, oppression and poverty

The Secretariat of the European Communist Initiative (ECI) sends warm greetings to all the working women. The Secretariat wishes all women good health and strength in the coming struggles.

Marx and Engels were already studying the social situation of working women under capitalism. They focused on the exploitation of wage labour but also on additional forms of inequality and oppression, exclusion and discrimination in a number of aspects of social life, such as legislation, family and interpersonal relations. 
They dealt with the historically shaped economic - social factors that transformed women's work from social to individual - domestic work many thousands of years ago. Similarly, they studied the new conditions in the course of social evolution, with the development of capitalist industry, which took women out of the narrow confines of the "family home", opening the door for their participation in social work, in wage labour. They turned their gaze to the future of human society, to the abolition of exploitation and with it the elimination of all forms of oppression and inequality. Today, their conclusions, their reflections, their lines of thought are still valuable guides in our struggle.

In 1911, by decision of the Second International Socialist Women's Conference, the International Women's Day for the social and political liberation of proletarian women was established.

Since then, the situation of women has changed a lot, for example now they have the same political rights as men, while formal equality before the law is now the norm, at least in the so-called "developed" capitalist world. However, 112 years after the first International Women's Day, working women are still not freer.

The female labour force participation rate has increased but women are paid less than their male colleagues, while caring for the family is still a responsibility that falls almost entirely on them. A number of services and infrastructures to support the family, such as the care of children and elderly relatives, have been "socialised" in capitalist terms. That is, they are offered on the capitalist market, to women who can afford them, at a quality that depends on their price. The burden that women bear in caring for family members makes them the first and biggest victims of part-time and flexible employment. A serious side effect of this situation is that they encounter obstacles to retirement and face the risk of living below the official poverty line after their working lives.

Imperialist war is raging in Ukraine. It is the sons, brothers and partners of Russian and Ukrainian women who risk losing their lives as expendable cogs in the war machine that is set in motion to serve the confrontation between the imperialist powers. It is the women and their children themselves who are living the violence of war and uprooting. The imperialist war destroys social and political structures. Violence against women is part of everyday life in war for many women. At the same time, places of retreat, such as women's shelters, have been destroyed in many places by the war.

In the conditions of imperialist "peace", women's lives are deteriorating in many ways. In addition to the deterioration of pay and working conditions, they are confronted with acute and ever worsening problems in the field of health and social welfare. These problems were tragically highlighted in the context of the worsening of the pandemic and are now continuing to grow.

The Secretariat of the European Communist Initiative rejects the attempts of bourgeois ideologues, parties and governments to take over the International Working Women's Day. Likewise, the propaganda of feminist foreign policy by various bourgeois governments must be firmly rejected. This foreign policy has nothing to do with women's interests, it is an attempt to disguise the usual bourgeois foreign policy in the interest of monopoly and finance capital. It is the attempt to inspire women for the continuation of the imperialist confrontation.

Capitalism has nothing to offer working women except exploitation, oppression and poverty. The problems and the deadlocks we are experiencing today are rooted in the capitalist way of organising society and production according to the criterion of maximum capitalist profit. They cannot be solved by imperialist associations and institutions, business groups and governments.

Indicative of the possibilities that the abolition of exploitative relations of production can unleash is the experience of socialist construction at the beginning of the 20th century. Women in the socialist states received the same wages as their male colleagues for the same work. The work of social reproduction, the maintenance and care of the family and the household, was transformed from the individual responsibility of women into a task that was increasingly undertaken by society. These achievements had a clear impact on changing perceptions of the role of women in society, to overcome anachronistic views that limit the role of women to the duties of the household and motherhood, to promote women as equal members who contribute to the building of socialism through their work and their participation in the institutions of workers' power.

Working women, like workers, have nothing to lose in a socialist revolution but their chains!