MARCH 8TH IS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY A TIME TO REFLECT ON THE VICTORIES AND DEFEATS OF THE PAST AND PAINSTAKINGLY ANALYZE THE NEED FOR FUTURE STRUGGLES.
Although International Women's Day is marked on 8 March every year this year it is extremely important to take note of where women’s rights stand under the onslaught of domestic and international reaction. In America, women’s rights to abortion access and other reproductive rights are under extreme attack. The recent Supreme Court appointments only emphasis that condition more acutely as black and other minority women are having a harder time making ends meet due to decreased federal and state support. All women are subjected to increased rates of disease and social dislocation and the effects of continuing rise of religious fundamentalism, always a bad sign for women.
Internationally, although International Women’s Day is suppose to be a day for global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women the fate of women in the so-called “Third World ” shows serious problems on the economic and social fronts. Increases in poverty and preventable diseases show how far we are from an equitable world. Most ominously, the continued rise of religious fundamentalism, always a deadly proposition for women in those societies, has only decreased the prospects for women’s liberation in the world. All these calamities only highlight the overwhelming need to resolve the struggle for women’s liberation by fighting for a more just social order. Needless to say the limiting effects of the family only enhance the continued subjugation of women. We must provide alternatives organizational forms and expend plenty of money to resolve this dilemma to insure a vast expansion of women’s intellectual and social creativity. That said, for those unfamiliar with the history of this important day here is a thumbnail sketch.
The Socialist Party of America held the first International Women’s Day on 28 February 1909 in the United States following a declaration. Subsequently, it has commemorated other historical events such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire (New York, 1911) where over 140 women lost their lives. In 1910 the Socialist International held the first international women’s conference in Copenhagen and the important German Socialist Clara Zetkin established an ‘International Women’s Day’, after submission of a motion. The following year, IWD was marked by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Furthermore, on the eve of World War I, women across Europe held peace rallies on 8 March 1913.
Demonstrations marking International Women's Day in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik leader Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday, and during the Soviet period it continued to celebrate "the heroic woman worker". However, the holiday quickly lost its political flavor and became an occasion for men to express their sympathy or love for the women around them. Forget that idea. That is what Valentine's Day is for. Let us return to the tradition of working class struggle around this holiday and build a workers party that fights for women’s liberation and all the oppressed.