This International Women’s Day comes from the backdrop of an ongoing global pandemic, economic crisis and war. Women have been to the fore of struggles in mass movements across the globe. Here in Ireland, we saw the example of the defiant mostly female Debenhams workforce who went on strike for more than a year fighting for their fair redundancy. Although they didn’t get what they were owed, their strike was an important example of women moving into struggle.
Working class women remain economically disadvantaged across the board. Lone parents, who are mostly women and their children, make up more than half of all homeless families. Ireland has some of the most expensive childcare costs in Europe. Despite the victories of reproductive rights North and South women still come up against three day waiting periods, underfunding and inaccessible services.
End violence against women
In January, we saw the tragic murder of 23 year old school teacher Ashling Murphy in Tullamore. Her murder sent shockwaves of grief throughout communities, but also anger at the ongoing problem of violence against women.
We support measures like increased street lighting and decent public transport that runs at night time. We also call for consent based and comprehensive sex education in schools that deals with these issues head on and trade union lead campaigns against sexism and harassment in the workplace.
However, we believe that in order to fully eradicate sexism and violence against women we must eradicate the capitalist system that perpetuates it. We need a united movement of all those who face discrimination, inequality and exploitation. A socialist alternative to sexism, inequality and capitalist crisis is the only way we can really transform society and make it a place where women and everyone else, feels safe without fear of violence.
The origins of International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day was proposed at a conference of the Second International by German Marxist Clara Zetkin. It was originally called International Working Women’s Day. Two years previously in 1908 on March 8th, 15,000 mostly female garment workers marched in New York for the right to vote and for better working conditions.
It was female textile workers who sparked the 1917 February revolution when they went out on unofficial strike action over food shortages, high prices and World War I. They triggered mass walkouts that ultimately lead to the downfall of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II.
International Women’s Day has always been a day to mark women in struggle around the world, despite the watered down version promoted by the establishment today.