We salute March 8, International Working Women’s Day, under the heavy burden of the pandemic. Covid-19 has not only become a public health crisis that has impacted thousands of millions of human lives, it has also exposed the neoliberal essence of imperialist capitalism and unmasked its brutally exploitative core.
The privatization of public health care has become an insurmountable barrier to accessing free and quality health services. Due to the commoditization of scientific knowledge, thousands of millions of people cannot access the vaccine, which is the best hope to emerge from the pandemic. Even access to the most basic education has become so difficult that a generation is being deprived of the right to education.
Neoliberal policies of flexibility and social insecurity, such as part-time work, temporary employment, the fixed-term contract, etc. have spread and become mass unemployment. The capitalist impasse in the face of the pandemic has produced disillusioned masses who have lost their livelihoods.
The Capitalist State Is an Increasing Burden on “Domestic Slaves”.
While the popular masses have been dragged into a whirlwind of misery and hunger, it has been again the women who have been pushed to the bottom. While international non-governmental organizations in the service of capital limit themselves to publishing “gloomy reports” on the rise in domestic violence, the lockdowns are carried out at the cost of women’s lives.
The bourgeois states and governments have not taken any effective measures to protect women anywhere on earth. In addition, women’s shelters are being closed, public help lines are being eliminated, and judicial processes are being suspended. Women have been left alone and confined to their homes, which have become a crime scene due to the increase in violence and femicides. The control of the pandemic by the state apparatus at the service of the capitalists is what women feel the most.
Greater Poverty and Higher Unemployment for Women
In addition to leaving women unprotected against violence, the capitalist state has also become a tool for their impoverishment. All social classes have been affected by the pandemic, but the state has come to the rescue of its own class. The public funds obtained from the workers and other laboring people have been put at the service of the capitalists, whose tax debts have been erased, who have received new stimulus packages. On the other hand, having long been chained around the neck with microloans under decades-long neoliberal “female entrepreneurship” programs, women who are self-employed and small producers have been pressured by debts that they cannot pay and have become dispossessed. They joined the ranks of the working class, some crushed by the wheels of exploitation of cheap labor, but most are in the grip of unemployment.
Women and children, as unpaid workers in poor rural families, have been deprived of the most basic opportunities for survival, such as access to food, water and housing. Tens of millions of informal sector workers have lost their income, and neoliberal insecurity has condemned them to hunger and greater oppression in the face of the pandemic.
Working women largely employed in temporary and part-time jobs as part of the neoliberal policies presented in the form of a “balance between work and family” have been left without employment and have been excluded from social protection even in the most advanced capitalist countries.
The Increase in Patriarchal Repression as Part of Capitalist Control
The pandemic and the conditions of the economic crisis are being used as an opportunity by the capitalist class worldwide. With working people within reach of herd immunity, the Covid-19 pandemic has become a “working class disease.”
Attacks on the historic gains of the working class as a whole have intensified, such as severance pay, pension and unemployment funds, and women’s rights, such as maternity leave, are on the tightrope, especially in the dependent countries. Control over the labor process has become much more oppressive and the workers are forced to meet production targets non-stop. Women workers are exposed to increasing molestation, harassment and humiliation in the workplace. In short, women have been affected by the crisis of capitalism and its so-called pandemic management not only as “domestic slaves”, but also as “wage slaves”. They were not only “locked up” in the home, but also in the workplace, as there were examples of women workers being held in the factory during the day, and in the bedrooms at night with positive cases among them. Many women were forced to work at the height of the pandemic or they felt forced to go to their precarious jobs, avoiding Covid tests for fear of having a positive result and having to stop working and be deprived of their only income without government aid. The first year of the pandemic has already reserved its place in the history of humanity as a period in which the patriarchal character of capitalist labor control has been revealed.
Monopoly Capitalism Counts on Fascism
Despite everything, the workers and other working people in many countries are uniting and fighting against the destruction caused by the pandemic and the crisis of their living and working conditions, and for their economic, social and democratic rights and liberties. Working women are also actively involved in these struggles.
With their selfless efforts for the good of public health, women health workers have especially stood out with their struggles, not only for their own demands for their livelihoods, but also for the right to health-care services, resisting public health being sacrificed to capitalist savagery. Broad sectors of women have continued their demonstrations during the pandemic measures in order to roll back attacks on their basic rights. In all parts of the world, through large or small acts of resistance, they sought forms of united struggle against these attacks. The women of Argentina won their fight for the legalization of abortion after 25 years of struggle that did not decline even under the conditions of the pandemic. The women of India were on the front line during strikes by millions of workers. In Europe, women have mobilized in defense of the Istanbul Convention, which was under attack by reactionary governments backed by religious authorities.
The devastating effects of the pandemic and the crisis are being exploited by the reactionary forces, especially the fascist organizations, to gain strength. In many countries, the monopoly bourgeois cliques are trying to absorb the discomfort and discontent of the exploited and oppressed popular masses due to the system, channeling them towards racist, sexist, misogynist and xenophobic policies. In addition, they tend to promote right-wing populism, which has already been on the rise before the outbreak of the pandemic, and to make more use of illegal state organizations.
A considerable number of working women are aware of the danger of fascism building in many parts of the world, from the United States to India, from Brazil to Turkey. They have the historical and contemporary experience that exploitation, inequalities, violence and racist-fascist policies cannot be stopped by liberal democracy.
Let Us Raise Our Voices against Imperialism and All Kinds of Reactionary Forces
March 8, 2021, marks a turning point for working women to raise their struggle globally and to improve their organization for economic, democratic and political rights and liberties in opposition to the devastating effects of the pandemic and the crisis, the intensification of exploitation and inequality, imperialism, racist-fascist aggression and all kinds of reactionary forces.
These intensified attacks can only be met by a strengthened and united struggle of all workers and other working people, with working women as an inseparable part of them.
All working women of the world, let us unite for our rights and liberties!
Long live the organized struggle of the working women!
Long live the international solidarity of working women!