The edited remarks were given on a May 11 webinar, “U.S. Women need what Cuban Women have: Socialism,” organized by the Women and Gender Oppressed Caucus of Workers World Party.
Comrades and friends, when it comes to living in the capitalist U.S., every issue is a women’s and gender-oppressed issue, because every issue impacts the working class here and around the world. And I will mention some of these issues which should be guaranteed rights but unfortunately remain ongoing struggles:
Everyone should have the right to healthy food; jobs, not jails and union busting; free quality education; housing, not gentrification; a clean environment; full legalization for migrants, not deportation; an end to white supremacy including police violence and extralegal terrorism; an end to all forms of misogyny; no imperialist war and occupation; and full rights for people with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.
And then there is the right to health care, especially free access to abortion for those who can become pregnant. The U.S. Supreme Court did the bidding of the reactionary ruling class, along with the capitalist state — that is the judicial, legislative and executive arms of the government — when it abolished Roe v. Wade last June. This ruling gave the states the right to severely curtail this health care treatment, vital for reproductive justice.
While this devastating defeat has harmed and endangered the lives of millions here, since 1966 Cuban women have had free legal abortion performed by doctors in hospitals with only the pregnant person’s consent. Cuba has been a beacon in Central and South America and the Caribbean for abortion seekers for decades. But a movement is growing here, shown by recent pro-abortion access referendums in several states and more.
Our excellent panelists will explain in their own words why Cuba inspires us here to struggle for socialism — a system that puts human needs before profits. The Cuban people do not face the same obstacles we face here, because of the Revolution they achieved in 1959. Cuban women have been in the vanguard of this ongoing socialist process. And this process would be more advanced if it wasn’t for the violation of their sovereignty by U.S. imperialism through the criminal blockade.
Next January will mark the centennial of the death of the great leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Vladimir Lenin, who was a champion of women’s rights. Their Family Code of 1918 gave women equal status to men, granted children born outside of marriage the same legal rights as those born to married parents, secularized marriage and allowed a couple to take either spouse’s last name once married.
Divorce became easily obtainable, abortion was legalized in 1920 and communal facilities for child care and domestic tasks were introduced with the aim of relieving women of household chores. Same-gender sexual relations were decriminalized under this code during the early years of this historic Revolution.
As revolutionaries in the belly of the beast, we have a lot to fight for here, along with workers and oppressed peoples globally from Haiti to Palestine to other imperial centers like France fighting for a world free from capitalist exploitation and oppression. And women and gender-oppressed people will be in the forefront of these battles, united until victory.