We are greeting March 8th, International Working Women’s Day, under the heavy burden of the pandemic. Covid-19 has not only become a public health crisis which had an impact on the billions of human lives, but it has also cracked the neoliberal nutshell of imperialist capitalism and unmasked its brutally exploitative core.
Privatisation of public healthcare has turned into an unbreachable barrier in terms of access to free and quality health services. Due to the commodification of scientific knowledge, billions of people cannot access the vaccine, which is the best hope out of 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, fixed term contract, etc. have expanded and turned into mass unemployment. The capitalist impasse in the face of the pandemic has produced disillusioned masses who have lost their livelihoods.
CAPITALIST STATE IS AN EVER GREATER BURDEN ON ‘DOMESTIC SLAVES’!
As the popular masses have been drawn into a whirlpool of misery and hunger, it was women again who were pushed to the bottom. While international non-governmental organisations in the service of capital are content with publishing “shadow reports” on increasing domestic violence, lockdowns are being implemented at the expense of women’s lives.
Bourgeois states and governments did not take any effective steps to protect women on any part of the earth. Moreover, women’s shelters are being shut down, public help lines are being made redundant, and judicial processes are being suspended. Women have been left alone and confined to the households that turned into a crime scene due to increasing violence and femicides. The fact that the control over the pandemic cannot be achieved by the state apparatus in the service of the capitalists is felt the most severely by women.
DEEPER POVERTY AND GREATER UNEMPLOYMENT FOR WOMEN
In addition to leaving women unprotected in the face of 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 ran for the rescue of the class that it is owned by. Public funds obtained from workers and labourers have been put in service of capitalists whose tax debts were erased, who received new stimulus packages. On the other hand, having long been chained in the neck with micro-credits under the decades long neoliberal “women’s entrepreneurship” programmes, the self-employed and small producer women have been pressed by the debts that they are unable to pay back and they have become dispossessed. They joined the ranks of the working class, some squeezed in the wheels of the exploitation of cheap labour, but mostly in the grip of unemployment.
Women and children as unpaid workers of rural poor families have been deprived of the most basic opportunities to survive, such as access to food, water and housing. Tens of millions of women workers in the informal sector have lost their income, and neoliberal insecurity has condemned them to starvation and more oppression in the face of the pandemic.
Working women largely clustered in temporary employment and part-time jobs as part of the neoliberal policy presented in the form of “work-family balance” have become unemployed and been excluded from social protection even in the most advanced capitalist countries.
INCREASING PATRIARCHAL REPRESSION AS PART OF CAPITALIST CONTROL
The pandemic and economic crisis conditions are being used as an opportunity by the capitalist class globally. As the working people have been left to the clasp of herd immunity, the Covid-19 pandemic has turned into a “disease of the working class“.
Attacks on the historical gains of the working class as a whole such as severance pay, pension and unemployment funds have been intensified, and women’s rights such as maternity leave are on the line especially in dependent countries. The control over the labour process has become much more oppressive and the workers are forced to fulfil the production targets non-stop. Women workers are being exposed to increasing mobbing, 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 “waged slaves”; they were not only “locked into” the household but also into the workplace, as there were examples of women workers kept in the factory during the day, and in dormitories at night with positive cases among them. Many women were either forced to work at the height of the pandemic or they felt compelled to go to their precarious work, avoiding Covid tests with fear of having a positive result and having to stop working and being deprived of their only income with the absence of government support. The first year of the pandemic has already reserved its place in human history as a period in which the patriarchal character of the capitalist labour control has been unveiled.
MONOPOLY CAPITALISM RELYING ON FASCISM
Despite everything, workers and labourers in many countries unite and fight against the destruction caused by the pandemic and the crisis in their living and working conditions, and for their economic, social, democratic rights and freedoms. Woman workers are also taking an active part in these struggles.
With their selfless efforts for the sake of public health, especially woman health workers have become prominent with their struggles, not only for their own demands for their livelihoods but also for the right to health services, resisting against public health being sacrificed to capitalist savagery. Wide women sections carried on with their demonstrations during the pandemic measures in order to push back the attacks on their basic rights. In every corner of the world, through big or small acts of resistance, they sought for ways of united struggles against these attacks. The women of Argentina have won their fight for the legalisation of abortion after 25 years of struggle which did not subside even in the conditions of the pandemic. The women of India were on the front line during the strikes of millions of working people. In Europe, women have been mobilised in defence 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 abused by the reactionary forces, especially fascist organisations, to gather strength. In many countries, the monopolist bourgeois cliques try to absorb the unrest and discontentment of the exploited and oppressed popular masses within the system by channelling them into racist, chauvinist, misogynist and xenophobic policies. Furthermore, they tend to empower the right-wing populism which was already on the rise before the outbreak of pandemic, and use the state-run illegal organisations more.
A considerable number of working women are aware of the danger of fascism to be built in many parts of the world from the USA to India, from Brazil to Turkey. They have historical and contemporary experience that exploitation, inequalities, violence and racist-fascist policies cannot be stopped by liberal democracy.
LET US RAISE OUR VOICE AGAINST IMPERIALISM AND ALL KINDS OF REACTIONARY FORCES
8th of March 2021 marks a turning point that working women should raise their struggle globally and improve their organisation for economic, democratic and political rights and freedoms in opposition to the devastating effects of the pandemic and the crisis, intensified exploitation and inequalities, imperialism, racist-fascist aggression and all kinds of reactionary forces.
These intensified attacks can only be confronted by a strengthened and united struggle of all workers and labourers, with working women as an inseparable part of them.
All working women of the world, let us unite for our rights and freedoms!
Long live the organized struggle of women workers!
Long live international solidarity of working women!