Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Women’s Day Editorial: Improve our revolutionary work among women

First Published: Unity, Vol. 2, No. 5, March 9-22, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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March 8, International Women’s Day, is celebrated every year to appreciate the contributions women have made to the struggle against oppression and exploitation. On Women’s Day this year, UNITY salutes the women of the U.S., who are standing up in struggle in greater numbers and with a greater militancy.

This past year has seen women fighting the closings of childcare centers and schools, due to budget and “Proposition 13” type cutbacks. Struggles for unionization, like that of the Black women workers of Purnell’s Pride in Tupelo, Mississippi, are simultaneously striking a blow at women’s and national oppression. In many industries, women are fighting “reverse discrimination” attacks on affirmative action.

Women have stood up against horrible abuses, like the forced sterilization of the women workers of the American Cyanamid Company. And, in response to reactionary attacks on abortion rights and the Equal Rights Amendment, women have again taken to the streets in mass demonstrations.

This growing activity points to the important role of women in the U.S. revolution. UNITY believes that these struggles are also placing greater demands on Marxist-Leninists to deepen their ties among the masses of women, take up their demands, and bring more women into the ranks of the revolutionary movement.

UNITY believes that while Marxist-Leninist work among women is developing, much more needs to be done. Marxist-Leninists should have a humble appraisal of their work and recognize that at this time it is still very weak.

UNITY believes that Marxist-Leninists can improve the quality of their work among women in a number of ways at this time.

Take up women’s demands in the mass movement

Taking up the struggle against women’s oppression is a task that should be integrated into all areas of work among the people.

More efforts should be made to reach women in every area of mass work – in the labor movement, in the movements of the oppressed nationalities, in the youth and student movement. This includes taking up more actively demands around the particular oppression women face, such as for the unionization of women workers, for equal pay, and for health and safety measures in the factories. Marxist-Leninists need to pay more attention to issues like the forced sterilization of oppressed nationality women. In almost every working class and minority community, there is a struggle for adequate and affordable childcare centers.

Marxist-Leninists need to be more active in taking up varied women’s rights issues, like rape and the ERA. We should do more work with mass women’s groups and organizations, like health collectives and clinics, parent groups (which are mainly women), welfare mothers’ groups, trade union women’s committees, and others.

In all these areas of activity, we need to connect the struggle against women’s oppression with the struggle against the capitalist system – the source of women’s oppression. In this way we can show concretely that reformism and feminism, as promoted by the bourgeoisie, are not the path to women’s liberation.

Overcome obstacles to women’s participation in political activity

Due to their oppression, women have a great revolutionary potential. Marxist-Leninists need to pay more attention to the particular concerns that many women face in taking up political struggle.

The capitalists perpetuate the male supremacist idea that the women’s “place” is in the home, while political and social activity is for men only. Many women also have a difficult time because they bear the full responsibility for housework and child rearing, and have little time for other activity. We need to combat incorrect ideas where they exist, struggle with men to share more household and family responsibilities, and take measures such as having childcare at mass meetings and programs, so that both men and women can get involved.

Within many mass organizations, women’s political participation is often hindered by male supremacist thinking. Many women work hard in carrying out mass campaigns, but often feel intimidated in raising their ideas in the political planning of those campaigns. Many times, women have to fight for their views to be heard, or for their contributions to be acknowledged and respected.

Some mass organizations have started up women’s caucuses to collectively struggle over these problems. These formations should be encouraged to improve the participation of women in political activity and enhance the unity among the masses.

Improve propaganda and agitation

Greater attention also needs to be paid to developing more theoretical work on the woman question, and understanding better the conditions facing women in the U.S. We need to study more the history of women’s oppression and struggle, and the experience of the women’s movement for equal rights.

UNITY is self-critical for having been relatively weak in its coverage of women’s issues and struggles. This weakness is due to a belittling of the importance of the woman question and the significance of winning women to the revolution. UNITY plans to correct this weakness by improving its coverage of women’s issues like the ERA, abortion, childcare, and women’s struggles in all the mass movements. We now have a women’s editor to ensure that this will be followed through on a consistent basis.

Like other oppressed sectors of the people, women have had no choice but to struggle, especially in the face of the present capitalist crisis. The broad participation of women in mass struggle today is in the very tradition of Women’s Day. That same tradition calls upon us to reaffirm our revolutionary responsibilities to the women’s movement.