Fighting for

Women
Rights and Socialism

 

Fighting for women, rights and socialismFighting for Women - Rights and Socialism 

Are women still oppressed? If so, why, and what can be done about it? 

This pack brings together some of the Socialist Party's extensive writings, offering a socialist explanation and strategy for ending women's oppression.

 

 


International Women's Day


Fighting Back In The Workplace: 8 MARCH is international women's day. It's a day which commemorates women's struggles against discrimination and exploitation and for a better world.

Katrine Williams, a benefit worker and member of the civil service union PCS, looks at some of the problems women still face both in and out of the workplace and explains why women need to fight for socialism.

What's Socialism got to do with it?:  SOCIALISM IS about democratically planning society so that people's needs are met rather than profits being made for the few at our expense.

Providing A Service On The Cheap: ALTHOUGH 70% of single parents on Income Support want to find work, the government is introducing draconian measures to push claimants into any job however unsuitable. 

 


 

The Socialist 8 March 2002 [Home] [News] [The Socialist

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International Women's Day

8 MARCH is international women's day. 

It's a day which commemorates women's struggles against discrimination and exploitation and for a better world. 

Katrine Williams, a benefit worker and member of the civil service union PCS, looks at some of the problems women still face both in and out of the workplace and explains why women need to fight for socialism.

 

Fighting Back In The Workplace

THE PUBLIC sector has often been seen as a good place to work for women. The perception has been of a job with security, good conditions with equal opportunities policies in place and part-time and part-year working available as well as flexi-time available in the civil service.

The majority of the workforce in the civil service tend to be women but this is overwhelmingly in the lower grades. Despite good equal opportunities policies this does not always become reality on the ground. With the cuts in the welfare state started by the Tories but continued with vigour by New Labour the pressure on the workforce is reaching breaking point.

Sickness absence policies are in place to make the person feel guilty for not coming into work when sick and the rules have become far harsher with regard to getting rid of an individual on inefficiency grounds.

Many members are trying to keep the welfare state and the benefit system going by pushing themselves in work and not taking breaks, cutting their lunch hour short to try to make sure that the public they support have money.

They try to square the circle of providing a service that does not have enough staff or the means to do the job well.

Staff are well aware of the pressures on women claiming benefit. Many delivering benefits are on Working Families Tax Credit themselves and are struggling to raise a family on low pay.

Instances of RSI and stress are on the increase as working conditions are so pressurised.

The threat of privatisation hangs over people's heads and the jobs don't feel secure any more especially with the constant change and upheaval.

However the one advantage in the public sector is that we are well organised and have a high percentage of union membership. With all the changes, women who previously have not been involved are rushing to join the union and there is more interest in getting active.

Women won't take all the cuts lying down and will fight changes with as much vigour as ministers who want to introduce the cuts.

What's Socialism got to do with it?

SOCIALISM IS about democratically planning society so that people's needs are met rather than profits being made for the few at our expense.

We cannot have real equality until we end this system based on exploiter and exploited.

There are enough resources in society to meet the needs of the world's population but they need to be owned, controlled and organised collectively for the good of all.

The technology exists now to release us from the workplace making our jobs easier and shortening the working week but instead under capitalism technology enslaves us and we have to work longer hours under more pressure whilst there is an army of people unable to get work.

After work women still bear the majority of the burden of household tasks. It is a complete waste of time for each household to individually shop, cook, clean, do washing and all the caring responsibilities of children, relatives, and the sick.

These are things that could be socially provided and become the responsibility of society.

By reducing the working week we would have time to make decisions about what is needed in our communities and society as a whole.

Being able to eat in good quality restaurants in the evenings is far easier and more social than preparing a meal in each household. There is no reason why most of the household burden could not be provided collectively, giving us even more time to enjoy life.

Healthcare would concentrate on improving and lengthening people's lives with preventative medicine rather than picking up the pieces when we become ill. The quality of food we eat and the environment we live in would be paramount.

Women would have a real choice in what we do. If we chose to have children and want to remain with them to bring them up that would be valued but there would also be quality childcare and education provided whenever needed.

Bringing up the next generation would be a vital responsibility of society as a whole and valued as such. Relationships would be free from economic pressures and the intolerable strain capitalist society places on them. There would also be no pressure to remain in a relationship that has ended.

Women make up 50% of the world's workforce and if you take into account the unpaid work in the home we do two-thirds of the world's work for one-tenth of the income.

So women have even more to gain from fighting to change this system that perpetuates our treatment as second class citizens and create a world based on cooperation and respect, free from poverty, war, violence and environmental destruction.

Providing A Service On The Cheap

ALTHOUGH 70% of single parents on Income Support want to find work, the government is introducing draconian measures to push claimants into any job however unsuitable. 

The propaganda is going out that this is a helping hand to single parents and puts the onus on the individual to "help themselves."

But the government only has to look at other countries with higher rates of single parents working to see the need to put in place facilities that support women to work.

Childcare is inordinately expensive and generally out of reach of women working on the minimum wage. Publicly funded good quality childcare needs to be available to all and employers need to be obliged not to discriminate against women, especially those with caring responsibilities.

The government is pushing the principle of "work first " for all claimants under 60 with the new agency Jobcentre Plus from April. But escaping the poverty trap is the major worry for people. Many women end up being worse off going to work than on benefit.

The minimum wage is set at a low level that does not allow you to escape the poverty trap. And despite the small help with the run-ons, paying benefit for a few more weeks, you are faced with high rent bills, council tax, and water rate demands. Even council rents are at a high level now which forms another barrier to being able to afford to work.

The government also forgets in all its propaganda that women on benefit are providing a service on the cheap that should be provided by the welfare state. They are bringing up the next generation, often caring for children or other relatives with a disability.

Any support has to be fought for tooth and nail from a welfare system cracking at the seams and social services only able to provide limited help to the minority of cases.

Women are used to fighting for what they need in the community and want a better future, so will be an unstoppable force when they realise there is a real alternative to this system which can provide for everyone's need - socialism

 

The Socialist 8 March 2002   [Home] [News] [The Socialist

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