Category Archives: Women

How “inspiring” is Trudeau’s “feminism”?

by Barry Weisleder
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised the tens of thousands of people who participated in the Women’s March across Canada, including over 60,000 in Toronto, on January 21.

“Congratulations to the women and men across Canada who came out yesterday to support women’s rights. You keep your government inspired,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter. Continue reading How “inspiring” is Trudeau’s “feminism”?

Gender Wage Parity – more than a century away

It will take 118 years to close the wage gap between women and men if present trends in pay inequity persist, the World Economic Forum predicts.
The global pay gap between the sexes narrowed by a mere 3 per cent over the past decade, visibly stalling after 2009–10, according to the forum’s annual Global Gender Gap report.

The slow progress means women are only now earning what men earned nearly a decade ago: $11,000 on average, while men’s average pay has nearly doubled to $21,000 worldwide.

The report, which also looks at women’s progress in education, health and political empowerment, found Canada ranked 30th, and the United States was 28th out of the 145 countries surveyed. Syria, Pakistan and Yemen occupied the bottom of the list.

Women now outnumber men in universities in 100 of the countries surveyed, yet few of them hold the kind of skilled or leadership roles that come with bigger pay cheques.

Why inequality? Just ask yourself this: where does the money go that corporations save by not paying equal wages to women?

On the 104th Anniversary of IWD – For Feminism and Socialism!

A Socialist International women’s conference 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 1978. For good reason.

Women’s oppression is rooted in the capitalist system. As with heterosexism, racism, environmental destruction and war, capitalism profits from discrimination, dispossession and plunder.

Continue reading On the 104th Anniversary of IWD – For Feminism and Socialism!

NDP Childcare Plan – a step forward

Thomas Mulcair, Nathan CullenThough federal New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair rules out hiking taxes on corporations and the super-rich, and promotes investment in climate-wrecking fossil fuels and pipelines, the party’s campaign for a cross-country child care plan is a breath of fresh air.
Stealing a march on the ruling Conservatives and the third party Liberals, the labour-based NDP Official Opposition launched its election platform, more than a year before the anticipated 2015 vote. It did so with a pledge to create one million $15-a-day child care spaces across the country within eight years.
While the time frame resembles the agonizing pace recently proposed by Mulcair for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour (i.e. by the year 2018), it has the merit of putting child care back at the top of the political agenda.
It also represents a step away from years of retrenchment and towards the expansion of public services.
BuimVSnIAAAnuuC.jpg largeThe NDP plan depends on partnership with the provinces. Ottawa would fund 370,000 child care spaces at a federal cost of $1.87 billion. The annual cost to create or maintain one million affordable spaces would rise to more than $5 billion by 2023 when the plan is fully implemented.
The provinces would be responsible for 40 per cent of the program’s costs. Mulcair points out that some provinces like Ontario, which has two years of full-day kindergarten, are already spending heavily in early childhood education and care. The aim, which may miss-fire on this point, is to have most provinces signed on to the program.
The prospect of success is a testament to the demands of millions of working parents who clamour for economic relief. While workers’ incomes have been frozen or shrinking for decades, the cost of living continues to rise. Toronto parents can pay up to $2000 a month for child care with average costs eating up more than 18 per cent of average Canadian family income. A $15 a day, or $300 a month plan would be a real boon. Quebec now provides $7 per day childcare.
Across Canada there are licensed child-care spaces for just 22.5 per cent of children under age 5 at a time when more than 73 per cent of young mothers are working.
After the Conservatives won the 2005 federal election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper scrapped a Liberal child care plan, which the Liberals spent 13 years discussing, and replaced it with a $100 monthly payout for parents with young children. In late October, under mounting pressure from the NDP, Harper said his government will increase the benefit next Spring to $160 a month – which is still far short of the private costs most parents face. A public plan could meet the social need, and do so at a higher standard of care.
The question is, assuming there is broad provincial agreement, how would Mulcair fund the federal share of the program he proposes. And how would he meet similarly urgent needs in the areas of education, health care, social housing, public transportation, and conversion to a green energy system?
There is no indication that Mulcair is prepared to cut the military budget, make industrial polluters clean up their mess, and steeply tax big business and the banks – all of which would be modest but necessary steps towards a Workers’ Agenda.
— BW

Celia Sanchez, Heroine of the Cuban Revolution

a book review by Judy Koch


Published in December 2013 (Monthly Review Press, New York, 441 pages), this is a biography of Celia Sanchez, written by Nancy Stout.
Celia Sanchez was one of the few female leaders of the Cuban Revolution. Little has been written about Cuba’s female leaders. Celia had a close relationship with Fidel Castro. Fidel understood and appreciated that Celia’s great political and revolutionary strength lay in her organizational capacity, as well as her sacrifice and commitment. She was the first female guerrilla — mostly unknown to North Americans. Award-winning author Alice Walker states in the foreword that Celia Sanchez was the extraordinary expression of a life that can give humanity a very good name. She is the medicine for sick societies.

556Born on May 9, 1920, she had seven siblings. Her mother died when Celia was six. She suffered anxiety from this loss. Her father was a country doctor, who Celia helped in his clinic. Everyday she would talk to his patients, to find out why they came. He was consulted about family matters, heard confessions, and sometimes acted as a marriage broker. He did not expect all patients to pay. Celia did that work for fifteen years. She managed his accounts and soon organized his life completely. He also had a taste for history and a library of many books. He was a political activist who wanted a better future for all Cubans.
Celia liked outdoor activities, deep sea fishing, picnics and flowers. Every Christmas she bought toys in bulk to give to children of poor parents. This helped to provide a cover for all the revolutionary things that she did. She was very secretive. She liked sewing and learned how to make patterns.
Her lover, Salvador Sadurni, died on June 9, 1937 when she was 16. After that she was inoculated against love.
Celia worked with Frank Pais before he died. She said up a network of people to plan the return of Fidel to Cuba. She was also assigned to get Fidel’s men out of the region after they landed. She talked to local farmers, most of whom were against Batista. She was told to select people who did not know each other. They were given basic military training. She played a key role in the landing of the Gramna boat on Cuba’s shore. As a result Batista ordered her capture – dead or alive. Her escape was aided by the fact that she was the granddaughter of Juan Sanchez Barro, one of the richest men in Cuba. Also, Celia had been a beauty Queen. As a result, upper class people offered to hide her.
_57173680_dscf4354Celia founded an induction center to help assemble, train and house the new recruits to the rebel army. She also found an inconspicuous way to get them food. She was preparing to go into the mountains with the guerrillas when Frank Pais got arrested. She had to take over Frank’s work. Still Celia was the first woman inducted into the rebel army. She considered her time in the Sierra Maestra to be the best time of her life.
Celia and Fidel worked closely together long before they ever met. When they met they became inseparable until the day of her death. celiassanchezmetwapenThey had a thriving revolutionary partnership, both devoting their lives to freeing the Cuban people. Celia kept records of almost everything those around her did during the revolution. She said that being a guerrilla was the best time of her life. She began to take care of Fidel in the manner written below. She prepared his coffee, made sure his uniform was clean and tidy, and his boots cleaned and repaired. She was also responsible for making sure that the rebels had enough food. She set up a telephone system so that Fidel could communicate to the front from his headquarters, and set up a chain of couriers.
One of their accomplishments was adopting many orphaned children and raising them. together. She helped develop Cuban cigars, especially the Cohiba. She founded the Coppelia Ice Cream Park, the Convention Center and the Lenin Park. She established an official residence for all five members of the rebel junta, Fidel, Che, Camilo and Raul as well as herself. She began working on her archives. She established hotels all over Cuba. In 1969 she concentrated in giving Cubans footwear. She figured out a way to protect gays and lesbians. She died from lung cancer on January 11, 1980. Fidel cried at her funeral.
The author talked to many people who knew Celia, both family and friends, to get an overall account of what she was like and her accomplishments. She was definitely a daughter of the Cuban Revolution. All people interested in changing the world should read this book as it shows how this can be done.