Call of the Central Committee of Communist Ghadar Party of India, 27th February, 2017
As we approach 8th March, Communist Ghadar Party hails the persistent and courageous struggle of the women of India and of all countries, to affirm their rights and the rights of all human beings.
All over the world, women are in the front ranks of massive protests against capitalist exploitation, imperialist wars, racism, state terrorism and all forms of oppression and discrimination of human beings. They are part of workers’ strikes, peasant and youth movements. They are active participants in the struggles for national rights that are under attack by multinational corporations and imperialist states. They are opposing the unjust wars being waged by US imperialism and its allies, resulting in widespread destruction and in millions of refugees fleeing from war zones.
One hundred years ago – on International Women’s Day
On 8th March, 1917, thousands of women marched on the streets of Petrograd in Russia. Some were workers, some were wives of soldiers – and they all demanded “bread for our children” and the “return of our husbands from the trenches”. The slogan “for the working women's vote” had by then become widespread within tsarist Russia.
It was a time when the First World War had created unbearable conditions for the working people all over Europe. A wave of revolts had spread across Germany starting in 1915. Housewives uprisings became increasingly frequent, flaring up at different times in Austria, England, France, Germany and Russia. In October 1915 a rebellion broke out on a market day in the town of Bogorodsk, a center of textile industry in Russia. About 12,000 women workers began a strike that lasted for several weeks.
A crowd of roughly one thousand women rioted in the town of Gordeevka in Russia in June 1916. They went from shop to shop demanding that shopkeepers open their storerooms. In August 1916 a group of soldiers’ wives in Germany wrote to the Hamburg Senate demanding its support for a peace settlement. They wrote: “We want to have our husbands and sons back from the war and we don’t want to starve any more”.
The most famous protest of women during this period took place in Russia on 8th March, 1917. Thousands of women workers and housewives defied the police. They called on the soldiers of the tsarist army to join them. The following day, about 200,000 women and men workers went on strike. The demands of the crowd became more political, with people shouting such slogans as “Down with the war!” and “Down with the tsar!” Soldiers of the Petrograd garrison defied orders to suppress the rebellion.The courageous act of Russian women on 8th March, 100 years ago, acted as a catalyst for the mass uprising that overthrew the Tsar, in what is called the February Revolution (following the Russian calendar).
Women of India have been among the front ranks of mass agitations and continuing struggles against globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation. In every place of work, from large corporations to sweat shops, working women are up in arms against the anti-worker amendments to labour laws. Teachers, nurses, anganwadi and ASHA workers are demanding the rights that belong to them by virtue of being workers.
Women and girls of our country are challenging feudal customs and outdated views about the inferior position of women in society. They are demanding modern laws that would guarantee their rights, as women and as human beings.
Women have been in the forefront of the struggle against communal violence and state terrorism. Whether in Kashmir, the Northeast, Chhattisgarh or other “disturbed areas”, women are defiantly fighting against army rule.
Life experience has exposed the existing State and the economic system it defends as being the main roadblock to the emancipation of women. The police and other official armed forces do not ensure security for women. On the contrary, they perpetrate the worst crimes including custodial rape. The courts do not ensure justice for the victims. The institutions of the Indian Republic defend rather than punish those guilty of crimes against women.
Parties striving for power within this State promise to wipe out all social evils; but once in power, they strictly serve the interests of the big bourgeoisie. They implement the same anti-women and anti-people program of capitalist reforms to enrich the monopoly houses.
In this “world’s most populous democracy”, political power is concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority, which pursues its selfish interests at the expense of the majority of women and men. The economic system is based on private ownership of the means of production and geared towards maximizing capitalist profits by exploiting human labour to the maximum possible degree, robbing small producers and plundering natural resources. The economic and political system engenders the debasement and super-exploitation of women.
Origin of International Women’s Day
The Second International Conference of Socialist Women held in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1910 established the tradition of celebrating 8th March as International Women's Day. The resolution was unanimously adopted by more than 100 women delegates from 17 countries, among whom were the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament. The resolution was put forward by German communist Clara Zetkin who had first proposed the idea of an annual demonstration in support of working women and women's rights at the First International Conference of Socialist Women held in Stuttgart, Germany in 1907.
Among other things, the resolution stated: “The socialist woman's movement of all countries … carry on their struggle not in alliance with the bourgeois Women's Righters, but in alliance with the Socialist Parties, and these fight for Woman's Suffrage as one of the demands which from the point of view of principle and practice is most important for the democratization of the suffrage."
It also stated, “In order to forward political enfranchisement of women it is the duty of the Socialist women of all countries to agitate according to the above-named principles indefatigably among the labouring masses; enlighten them by discourses and literature about the social necessity and importance of the political emancipation of the female sex and use therefore every opportunity of doing so. For that propaganda they have to make the most especially of elections to all sorts of political and public bodies”.The delegates resolved, “In agreement with the class-conscious political and trade organizations of the proletariat in their country the socialist women of all nationalities have to organize a special Woman's Day, which in first line has to promote Women Suffrage propaganda. This demand must be discussed in connection with the whole women's question according to the socialist conception of social things”.
Those who tell us that there is no connect between the struggles of the working class and that of women are lying in order to subvert the struggle for women’s liberation. The very practice of celebrating 8th March every year as International Women’s Day was initiated by working women who were leaders of the movement for socialism and communism.
One hundred years ago, on 8th March 1917, Russian women stormed the streets of Petrograd and other cities, demanding an end to war, starvation and the autocratic rule of the Tsar. The mass protests of women on that day became a powerful catalyst of a revolutionary uprising that overthrew the tsarist monarchy. Women continued to play a major role in the advance of the revolution in Russia that year, leading to the capture of political power by the working class in alliance with peasants and soldiers in the Great October Socialist Revolution. They worked shoulder to shoulder with working men to build the new socialist system.
The revolutionary experience of Russia showed that the road of proletarian revolution and socialism is the only path to the liberation of women. Since then, the capitalists of all countries have been continuously developing numerous ways to prevent women from uniting, as women, and with the working class and all other oppressed in society. They attempt to divert the women’s movement by promoting the notion that men are the enemies; and that the main struggle of women is for equality within the family.
In our country, the ruling big capitalists who are allied with big landlords and other propertied sections employ various methods learnt from the British colonial rulers to divide and rule over the toiling majority of people. They systematically incite conflicts on the basis of religion, caste, national or tribal identity. They deploy the method of elite accommodation through the reservation of quotas for specific castes and communities.
The present Modi government is repeating the worn out promise of 33% reservation for women in Parliament and state legislatures. This is a carrot that has been dangled in front of the women’s movement since 1996. It is aimed at making the fighting women conciliate with the existing system. It is aimed at breaking the fighting unity of women by accommodating a select few into the existing power structure.
Communist Ghadar Party strongly believes that the women of India must beware of this trap of the ruling class. The goal of the women’s movement is not to be allotted a quota within the existing Parliament. The goal is to replace this talk-shop parliament with a body that truly represents the working women and men. Our goal is to lay the foundation for a new State and political process, in which it is the working people who wield power and not a political elite backed by big capitalists and other exploiters. Only such a State can ensure prosperity and protection for all, guaranteeing that nobody dares to violate the rights and dignity of women.
Women have to get organized in their mohallas and in their places of work, as women and as a contingent of the working class and its revolutionary movement to end all forms of exploitation. We, the working women and men, girl and boy students, must build our own samitis in our workplaces, campuses and residential locations. In the course of fighting for our rights, we must prepare to become the rulers of society.
International Women’s Day is an occasion for women to reaffirm our resolve to fight for the New – for a world without unjust wars, without exploitation and repression, without discrimination between human beings based on gender or any other criteria.
Let us unite to fight for the Navnirman of India, for the creation of a modern democratic state that vests sovereignty in the people! Let us unite to overthrow capitalism as the condition for the completion of the democratic, anti-colonial, anti-feudal and anti-imperialist struggle! Let us unite to build socialism through revolution!
We call on women who are committed to fight for the cause of social progress to join the Communist Ghadar Party of India and strengthen the leadership of the working class and the revolutionary movement for communism!
Long live the struggle for the emancipation of women!