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From The Socialist newspaper, 10 February 2010

Socialist Women: Fighting for equality through socialism

On 6 and 7 February, 30 women from across England and Wales attended the Socialist Women weekend school. March 2010 will see the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, a day honouring the achievements in winning better rights for women. But it is also a day of action and campaigning, recognising the struggles that women still face in order to attain equality domestically, in the workplace and across society.

Indie Purcell

To start off the weekend, The Socialist's editor Judy Beishon introduced a discussion with an analysis of the Socialist Party's vital role in building support for socialist ideas, raising awareness of issues that are of particular importance to women and demands put forward on these issues by the Socialist Party.

These demands include defending abortion rights, fighting to close the gender pay gap, campaigning to have better access to education and training within the workplace and fighting for better benefits for parents.

Trade unions

The role of women in trade unions is another important factor in raising awareness of gender issues and equality within the workplace. Ways to help women play this role, it was suggested, could include developing more women's groups and caucuses, advocating an increase in training for women and building up a support network for those who have children.

Next on the agenda was Socialist Party women's committee spokesperson Eleanor Donne's examination of the origins of the struggles of the last century.

Women now make up over 50 per cent of the workforce and have certain legal rights when it comes to issues such as abortion and rape. But we are still significantly underpaid and underrepresented, with the majority of working women still taking on the chronically low-paid 'female identified' jobs such as nursing and caring.

Fighting the cuts

If the Tories win the next election it is likely that public services, support groups and services for women will be slashed drastically. New Labour would also make major cuts. So what can the Socialist Party do to fight these assaults?

It was decided that within the party, female members should be encouraged to take on active roles, including taking part in campaigning stalls and petitioning. Socialist Party branches should look to having public meetings for International Women's Day. Women's concerns should be regularly discussed in branch meetings, which could include how the recession affects women's working conditions, how threatened cuts to public services could impinge on women and what could be done to aid victims of rape and domestic violence.

It was unanimously agreed that a charter for women's rights should be produced.

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In The Socialist 10 February 2010:

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Socialist Women: Fighting for equality through socialism

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