March 8 is International Working Women’s Day. This special day honors the struggles of women against inequality, oppression and war. It is also a time to promote true international solidarity, to embrace women of all continents.
This year we see women fighting back against the ravages of corporate globalization on every continent. Whether they work in Indonesia’s factories, Bangladesh’s garment industry, Greece’s public sector, Haiti’s clothing plants or Brazil’s agricultural fields, women are demanding their rights.
We see opposition to the endless U.S. interventions — which aim at installing and/or propping up pro-U.S. regimes in order to grab the resources that rightfully belong to their inhabitants. The economic crisis is propelling even more aggression abroad. Yet, this is not unopposed. From the Philippines to Pakistan, from Somalia to Honduras, women challenge U.S.-engineered coups, bases, troops and weapons.
It is capitalism, a system based on the private ownership of property, that lies at the crux of women’s oppression and other forms of discrimination, inequality and bigotry. The super-rich capitalists gobble up the vast majority of the world’s wealth. They exploit workers’ labor, keeping the profits they make while paying them low wages.
Financial and social inequality are inherent within this system. The rich are getting richer and the workers poorer. The income gap is widening on a world scale. During this so-called “recovery,” profits are skyrocketing and the multinational working class is falling behind. This severely impacts women.
The global capitalists pay the lowest wages possible in the factories and sweatshops where millions of women work. Women and girls are 70 percent of the world’s poorest people. The economic crisis has worsened their conditions. Some 81 million are jobless. Millions have part-time and low-wage jobs. Millions have to migrate to find jobs, and then face bigotry and mistreatment.
Even in the U.S., the “wealthiest” country in the world, women do not have pay equity; those who are African-American and Latina are among the lowest-paid workers. Women have two-thirds of the minimum-wage (or less) jobs. Yet women who toil in fast food and other underpaid jobs are walking out and fighting back, giving a boost to all workers and progressive forces.
We cheer on all women struggling worldwide, from those opposing imperialist war and occupation to those challenging global corporations. We hail those marching against austerity imposed by European and U.S. financial institutions and by their own governments.
We extend our solidarity to our sisters across the globe and workers here at home — organized and unorganized – who are demanding jobs, livable wages and humane working conditions.
Women have always fought back against oppression and exploitation. That’s why International Women’s Day was founded in 1910 – to recognize their struggles, as well as build global solidarity. It was also intended by its socialist founders to promote the anti-capitalist struggle, to pave the way for a better world.