Welfare cuts hit women hardest

The 2015 July Budget was a savage attack on working class women. In FRFI 244, we reported that of the £26bn cut through tax and benefit reforms since 2010, £22bn has been taken from women – a total of 85%. Women will yet again bear the brunt of austerity. Of the £9.6 billion to be taken from the poorest families, £7 billion – 70% – will come from women. Through it all, the ruling class continues to conjure up a world far from reality. Prime Minister David Cameron presents the Tories as ‘the real party for working people: giving everyone in our country the chance to get on, with the dignity of a job, the pride of a pay cheque, a home of their own and the security and peace of mind that comes from being able to support a family’. He neatly describes the direct opposite of the experience of working class women and families up and down the country.

Read more ...

Women – on the frontline of resistance to austerity

Newcastle FRFI supports the campaing to stop cuts in Sure Start provision

The capitalist parties are committed to continuing austerity and working class women will continue to suffer the most. The five years since the last general election have seen attacks on work, benefits, housing, services and childcare. Resistance has, however, been slowly building and women are leading the way in organising themselves and their communities to fight back. Rachel Francis reports.

Read more ...

Eleanor Marx: hidden from history

Eleanor Marx

History is written, by and large, by the ruling class and serves its interests in promoting its world view. So when the BBC recently screened its history of women’s struggles for the vote in Britain, ‘Suffragettes Forever’, presented by Professor Amanda Vickery, we were treated to a very partial account which deliberately minimised the participation of working class women (boiling it down to the Bryant & May ‘matchgirls’ strike of 1888) and completely erasing the part played by socialist and communist women leaders, namely Eleanor Marx and Sylvia Pankhurst. In Vickery’s history, the struggle for women’s rights, including the vote, was a limited feminist pursuit: a battle by women against men to achieve equality – starting with Queen Victoria (!) and ending with Lady Astor. There was a different political perspective, however, that saw this battle as part of the struggle, led by the working class, to liberate men and women from wage slavery and oppression. Both Eleanor Marx and Sylvia Pankhurst organised and fought explicitly in opposition to the bourgeois feminists whom Vickery favours as the heroines of the struggle. That is why bourgeois history prefers to consign them to oblivion.

Read more ...

Ending sexual violence in conflict: rhetoric and reality

Sexual violence in war affects hundreds of millions of people around the world, accompanying the wars waged by the imperialist powers and their regional proxies. This is one brutal part of the wider violence against women under capitalism, with women making up the majority of those in poverty and – with children and young people – 80% of those made refugees. The bank accounts of the ruling classes are built on war and poverty. So when then Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie led a ‘Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict’ in London in June 2014, it was clear it was going to be nothing but a slick public relations exercise for imperialism.

Read more ...

Free, safe, accessible abortion on demand!

“She was able to access such services, albeit they were those provided privately by an independent clinic, outside the NHS for a fee, and no obstacles were put in her way in this regard” - Mr Justice King at the High Court ruling.

In this High Court ruling in London on 8 May, Mr Justice King reaffirmed that women from the north of Ireland are not entitled to an abortion free of charge provided by the NHS in England. In the Six Counties, abortion remains a criminal act. Access to an abortion remains entirely dependent on the ability to pay for travel, accommodation, and a private procedure. The verdict was a blunt dismissal of the realities of poverty, work, childcare and lack of reproductive health rights for working class women.

Read more ...