· The statement below was presented by Socialist Action Treasurer Elizabeth Byce to lead off the SA webcast on March 4, 2021.
A women’s conference of the Socialist International in Copenhagen in 1910 launched International Women’s Day globally in 1911. Trotskyist parties, including the predecessor organization of Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste in the Canadian state, re-launched the modern IWD in Canada forty-three years ago, in 1978.
We did this for good reason. Women’s oppression is rooted in the capitalist system. As it does with hetero-sexism, racism, environmental destruction and war, capitalism profits from discrimination, dispossession and wasteful plunder of natural resources.
We march for bread … and for roses too! We do so in the face of escalating attacks on basic human needs – a vicious pandemic that is linked to an unstable, unequal and unsustainable economy. Women have lost most of the jobs curtailed due to COVID-19.
Establishment claims that women have ‘achieved equality’ are nothing but a sick joke.
* On average, women are paid 25 per cent less than men – $7,200/year less than males. The gap would be bigger if not for the fact that male workers’ wages have stagnated, or declined.
* 27 per cent of employed women work fewer than 30 hours per week, more than double the 12 per cent of men who work part-time. 7 out of 10 part-time workers are female.
* Low paid women increasingly hold more than one job to survive. This is particularly apparent in the health sector, including in Long Term Care, where female front-line workers have fallen victim to the global pandemic. 56 per cent of multiple job holders are women. 2.4 million women and girls (13.8%) lived on a low income in 2016.
* Aboriginal women and girls suffer shameful economic and social conditions. They are systemic victims of racism, inequality, physical assault, disappearance and murder.
* Most women still bear the double burden of doing most of the domestic labour, in addition to work outside the home.
While trillions of dollars are wasted globally on corporate bail-outs and militarism, women and girls are denied adequate education, economic opportunities, clean water, health care, reproductive choice and personal security. From Palestine to Haiti, from Guatemala to Syria to Kashmir, women and children are disproportionately the casualties of wars and military occupation in which Ottawa is directly involved or complicit. Millions of women and men have demonstrated against the corporate agenda which threatens to increase sexism, racism, homophobia and exploitation on all levels.
To transform society our demands must be sharp and clear: No money for war. RCMP off Wet’suwet’en land! Imperialist Hands Off Venezuela! Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Zionist apartheid state! Canada Out of NATO! End all subsidies to Capital. Tax big business and the rich. Fund health care, education and social services. Provide universal, free, quality child care and pharma care. Enforce equal pay and equal access to good jobs. No two-tier wages/benefits. Restore funding to women’s social justice organizations, emergency shelters and legal aid. Build quality social housing. Raise E.I. rates and ensure real access for part-time workers. Legislate a $20 per hour minimum wage. End precarious employment. Provide paid sick leave to all, especially front-line workers. Nationalize private, for-profit Long Term Care companies.
Phase out the Alberta Tar Sands development. No new pipelines. No reconciliation without restitution for Indigenous people. Conscript corporate profits to fund the conversion of industry, business, homes and schools to renewable green energy power.
For public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy under workers’ and community control. For a Workers’ Government. Fight for working class political independence and for socialist policies in labour unions and the NDP. Women’s Liberation through Socialist Revolution. No socialism without Women’s Liberation.
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