Women & Revolution Socialist Dialogue

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Renewing Socialist Feminism Today
Socialist Dialogue forum presentation
To mark the 99th anniversary of International Women's Day

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Women & Revolution Socialist Dialogue

  1. 1. Women & Revolution Renewing Socialist Feminism Today Socialist Dialogue March, 2010
  2. 2. Talking about Revolution <ul><li>The women’s movement, the leadership, needs to start to talk about revolution and socialism again. </li></ul><ul><li>The movement subsumed by ‘advocacies. </li></ul><ul><li>Issues of system-change and anti-capitalist alternatives not addressed today. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Has the system delivered? <ul><li>For a minority, yes. For a majority of women, No! </li></ul><ul><li>We have formal equality (anti-discrimination legislation, etc) but not real social and economic equality. </li></ul><ul><li>The gap between women in the North and South widening. </li></ul><ul><li>The class gap amongst women increased and increasing. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Why? <ul><li>Why does the women’s movement need to start talking about revolution/system change? Because of the economic and social conjuncture we face today. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>System in deep crisis: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>economically (Greece, Portugal show the deep cracks, poverty increasing), </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>socially (health, education, environment and human survival under threat). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Renewal of socialism. Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba continues. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Philippines context <ul><li>Poor children die at three times the rate of the children of the rich, </li></ul><ul><li>Under-five mortality rates are 66 child deaths to every 1000 live births amongst the poor, compared to 21 child deaths to every 1000 births amongst the rich. </li></ul><ul><li>The largest wealth disparity for under-five mortality rates is in the Philippines, compared to any other country in the Asia-Pacific region. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Need for modern RH program <ul><li>Child mortality is linked to the health and welfare of the mothers. Maternal mortality rates in the Philippines show little or no improvement. </li></ul><ul><li>We need a comprehensive, modern reproductive health program meeting international best standards and practice. </li></ul><ul><li>Free and accessible to poor women, which gives mothers a range of choices and educates them about these choices, saves poor children’s lives. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Gender responsive governance <ul><li>We have supposedly progressed on gender and governance issues: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>women presidents and have one of the highest proportions of women in Congress, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And yet this has not translated into concrete gains for a majority of working and poor women. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The system of elite rule that exploits and oppresses working and poor women is still in place. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the issue is not one of women’s participation, but one of genuine representation – in whose political social and economic interests, do these women govern? </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. All issues are women’s issues <ul><li>No artificial divide between women’s issues and other issues. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Poverty, economic crisis, job losses, contractualization, health care and reproductive health, education, oil prices, corruption, governance, the illegitimate debt, war, militarism, violence, climate change and the environmental crisis, are all women’s issues. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Women are the ones who are the hardest hit by these issues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>economic crisis, during which a majority of workers laid off in industries such as electronics are women, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>climate-change induced disasters such as flooding, where the casualty rates tend to be higher for women and children. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How society is organized and in whose interests? </li></ul><ul><li>Who controls the political system? Who runs the economy? These are life and death issues for women. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Renewal of Socialist Feminism <ul><li>Puts the question of the alternative to capitalism, the need for socialism, back on the agenda. </li></ul><ul><li>Socialist feminism is an inclusive project. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All socialist feminists would see class as central to women’s lives and women’s oppression. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>some of us would see class as fundamental from the point of view of explaining the historical origins of women’s oppression, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>others refuse to give primacy to any one factor over the other. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Women’s oppression, however, is not simply reduced to economic exploitation, i.e. the extraction of surplus value. This also applies to national/ethnic or racial oppression. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All these aspects of society are inextricably linked, i.e. class is always gendered and ‘raced’. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Reproductive Labor, Wage Labor & Capital – the Links <ul><li>Capital, wants the lowest possible necessary labor. But capital would like to expand -- unpaid necessary labor or reproductive labor. </li></ul><ul><li>As the purchaser of labor power, capital is in a position to gain from the unpaid labor of women within the household. The more intense and lengthy that work in the household, the more capital can gain. </li></ul><ul><li>The more capital drives down wages and intensifies the workday for both male and female wage-laborers, the greater the burden placed on the household to maintain workers. </li></ul><ul><li>How could we deny that the logic of capital is contrary to the need for development of women? </li></ul>
  11. 11. Make a breach in the system <ul><li>Women need to make a breach in the system of elite/capitalist rule. </li></ul><ul><li>We need to link our immediate demands to system change and an end to elite rule. </li></ul><ul><li>We need to have the perspective of mobilizing masses of women, not just our own base, but hundreds of thousands, to make a breach in the system. </li></ul><ul><li>Latin America shows us that this can be done. </li></ul>

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