Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/695/13236
Women: sick of sexism, discrimination and cuts?
It doesn't have to be like this!
Eleanor Donne, Socialist Women steering committee
On 30 November millions of workers will participate in what is likely to be the biggest coordinated strike action since the 1926 general strike. We are saying enough is enough! Two-thirds of workers in public services are women and will bear the brunt of the job cuts.
In 2011 women are on the march to defend our jobs, benefits, pensions and vital public services, which are under attack. We gained legal rights to equal pay and against sex discrimination through past campaigns and struggles in the workplace. Yet the gender pay gap remains and so we are still fighting on this issue too.
Young women were on the frontline of the fight against the increase in tuition fees and abolition of EMA student payments. Half of graduates are currently women but many would-be students, especially mature students, will now be put off higher education, asking themselves if it is worth a lifetime of debt, as the chances of a job at the end are diminishing. 20% of graduates were out of work last year.
The situation will get worse as jobs in the public sector - social work, education, local government and health - where the majority of women graduates found work in the past, are cut to the bone.
Where care services are cut, day centres closed and meals on wheels costs go up, it is women family members in the main who will have to step in as unpaid carers. It's a myth that vital frontline services can be run simply by volunteers.
Voluntary sector organisations such as the Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB) will fold without adequate government funding. Women's refuges and rape crisis centres are under threat of closure as local authority grants are cut.
Protesters at St Paul's are questioning the greed and inequality inherent in a capitalist economy. Increasing numbers are unhappy with how things are and want change.
A capitalist economy relies on the exploitation of the working class. Women are used by the system both as cheap labour in the workplace and as unpaid cooks, cleaners and carers in the home. A multi-billion pound 'beauty' industry profits from promoting anxiety and insecurity about how we look and hammers home the message that what we say or think is much less important.
Earlier in the year thousands of women and many men took to the streets on the 'slutwalks' to protest against rape and the reactionary idea that women are partly to blame if they dress 'provocatively'. Rape, domestic violence and sexual harassment are symptoms of a deeply unequal society. This is reinforced by women's material inequality in society.
We demand change! We need a socialist society where society's huge wealth and resources are collectively owned. We want a society where women have financial independence, where everyone has a decent income in their own right.
Reactionary attitudes to women are very deeply ingrained and would not disappear overnight. But in the longer term a socialist society - one which is based not on exploitation but cooperation and genuine democracy and which has freed the family from its role as a social and economic institution - will develop a culture and ideology that removes women's oppression.
Say no to violence against women - Reclaim the Night demonstrations taking place across the country see www.reclaimthenight.org
The Socialist Party calls for:
- A mass movement against all cuts
- Councils to refuse to implement government cuts and instead set needs budgets
- Support for the 30 November strikes - for further coordinated trade union action to oppose cuts in pensions, jobs and pay if needed
- Keep services public - no to privatisation
- Defend the NHS - no cuts to maternity and other health services
- Defend and extend abortion rights - no postcode lottery. NHS funding for all, end the need for two doctors' signatures
- No closure of domestic violence and rape survivors' support services. Investment to provide more refuges and safe houses not fewer
- Full help for childcare costs in tax credits - for affordable good quality flexible childcare
In The Socialist 23 November 2011:
Pensions' strike, N30
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
The Socialist - Readers' comments
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news