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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Introduction for Revolutionary Women Meeting, March 2014

by Louise Gartrel

This speech was written as an introduction to a meeting titled ‘Revolutionary Women: The Story of Rebellion’, which formed part of Scotland FRFI’s ‘Voices of Resistance’ series of events. The meeting was held on 16 March 2014 in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! has called this meeting today to pay tribute to the undeniable contributions which women have made towards the Revolution throughout history and to make the point that the struggle against imperialism and towards a society rid of oppression and exploitation must necessarily have women at the forefront. It must also be recognised that women throughout history have had to face not only oppression from the ruling-classes in terms of the effects of a capitalist system, but have also experienced the domination of, and subjugation to, male privilege within the home and throughout society. And for this, we see that women have had to face the greatest hardship and as a result shown the strongest resistance.

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