The women and men of the Internationalist Communist Organisation are pleased to take part in this march, which expresses the decision of so many women throughout the world to declare their anger out loud and mobilise themselves personally against the global worsening of their living conditions.
This world initiative, which calls upon the women of the North and South to act together in a collective struggle, represents a major step forward in comparison with Beijing 1995 because, at that time, many of the participants still believed it was possible to place the expectations of women in State and government hands.
At least the more advanced members of the movement now clearly understand the unbounded hypocrisy of capitalist States and potentates throughout the world: their declarations in favour of equality between men and women simply disguise the fact that their policies go in the opposite direction.
It was therefore inevitable that things would begin to pass from the tables of governments and parliaments to the direct action of women and their organised mass struggle against such "false friends".
Women do not have any real friends (of either sex) in the institutions of the exploiting classes: such friends (and comrades in arms) exist only among the proletariat that universe of the exploited of which they themselves are an integral and decisive part.
It is no accident that the political and organisational epicentre of this world march is in a North America that has for years witnessed mobilisations such as that in Seattle, large-scale strikes, the revival of black and chicanos movements, new ferments among the young, and street protests against the aggression in Yugoslavia.
And it is also no accident that the warmest and most active support comes from Latin America and Asia, the areas in which the struggle of working women is most intense. The truth is that the destiny of women and that of all of the exploited and oppressed are linked by a double bond: we are both being crushed by the common enemy of capitalism, and we can only win this battle if we unite and merge our forces.
Poverty and violence: The two words in the platform of this demonstration offer a precise synthesis of the condition of women in the North and South of the world.
In most of the countries of the Third World, financial globalisation and neo-liberal policies are precipitating women into the abyss of a generalised misery, not least because all of the IMFs "rescue" plans simply serve to fill the coffers of capitalist creditors; in the rich countries (rich only because they have stripped the coloured peoples for centuries), women employees and housewives are being forced to tighten their belts and to take on increasingly heavier burdens of work and responsibility. And all of this is being accompanied by a worsening in the physical and psychological violence suffered by women. The degradation of material living conditions, the ferocious competition of everybody against everybody else, and the exasperation induced by the inequalities imposed by market laws, are all leading to a barbarisation of human relationships that affects women first and more profoundly insofar as they represent the oppressed sex in the family and society as a whole.
Whether or not they also work outside the home, they are burdened by the hard and suffocating task of housekeeping; in one way or another, they are always subordinated to the authority and "central nature" of men; and they remain condemned to being the objects of individual and collective pleasure.
This condition of dual oppression (which the struggle of women has been able to attenuate but not destroy) is now being aggravated by the "latest trends" of world capitalism, which are leading to additional burdens of privation, humiliation and physical ill-treatment in both the North and South of the world.
The organisers of this march have therefore done well to stress what is common to all women, because what unites them is infinitely more important and determinant than their differences. On the contrary, the established powers of the "white" world are using their lying propaganda in an attempt to divide Northern and Southern women, as well as the male and female members of the proletariat.
What they mean when they say that "the women of the North are already free and emancipated" is that they have nothing more for them to claim for themselves, and so it is simply a question of emancipating and liberating the women of the South. And then they go on to say that this is and must be the task of the civilised West (the home of all freedoms and, above all, the freedom of women), because the women of the Third World have by now been numbed into accepting their slavery. This is nothing but a provocatively neocolonialist lie!
The declarations of equal rights and opportunities written on the worthless paper of formal Constitutions simply disguise the fact that the situation of women in the USA and Europe is still one of social inferiority: in terms of working positions, the type of work, the division of labour within the family, and participation in political and trade union life.
Not to mention the condition of material (and often juridical) discrimination suffered by coloured and immigrant women! The "free" and democratic societies of the West are nothing but kingdoms of capital, money and totalitarian dominion over individual life (regardless of gender).
History has never seen a more despotic "patriarchal" power than that governed by money, which has constructed a female model for its own purposes and now obliges all women to accept it as their own in order to avoid being undervalued or expelled from the labour market.
Western societies reduce everything to the level of merchandise, which means that women must not only offer their labour, but also (albeit to varying degrees) their bodies and "souls". Is this the emancipation of women? No! Face powder is not enough to cover the "wrinkles" of oppression: the women of the North still have to conquer their real liberation.
It is equally false to say that the women of the South are incurably backward, passive and consenting victims of their archaic cultures and family relationships (pre-capitalist patriarchism).
Their history of rebellion and magnificent struggle is second to none (it is enough to remember the uprising in Bangalore against the insulting Miss World parade). They are forced to submit to particularly brutal forms of abuse, and their backs are bowed early by unbearable weights, primarily because the so-called "civilised" countries (i.e. the imperialist countries that outwardly declare their support for the rights of women, as in the case of the posturings of a Bill or Hillary Clinton) do everything they can to block the evolution of the Third World by adding their modern "external" rape and oppression to that already exercised by the local exploiting classes (whose greater ruthlessness against women makes them more appreciated by the West, as in the case of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Afghanistan of the taleban, the South Africa of apartheid ).
This oppression affects all exploited coloured peoples forced to suffer a sub-human existence, but its effects are differential and even more acute on women, who find themselves crushed by a triple oppression.
This is why the only real help that the women and proletariat of the North of the world can and must give to the women of Latin America, Asia and Africa is to fight against new colonialism and their own imperialist States, governments and financial institutions, and offer their militant support to the peoples in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Cuba and anywhere else who "dare" to resist and combat the forced slavery represented by the world market.
The women of the North and South of the world are oppressed by the same mechanism, the same "système social, économique, financier et politique responsable de la pauvreté généralisée et de la violence faite aux femmes" (as said in one of the texts produced by Canadian women). This is the same social system that is responsible for the exploitation and oppression of the proletariat: world capitalism and imperialism.
It is for this reason that an ideal solidarity among women or between women and the proletariat as a whole is no longer sufficient: it is now the time for a common battle, a common organisation and a common programme of action capable of cementing our forces in a united defence and attack against our common enemy.
The liberation of women in the North depends on the liberation of the women in the South of the world, and viceversa! The liberation of women depends on the liberation of all of the exploited, and viceversa! The sexual oppression and class exploitation of capitalism must be defeated at the same time it is not possible to defeat one without the other.
Many of you intuitively understand that this is the only way, but the difficulties involved mean that you are still trying to use mass mobilisation as a means of modifying the existing system. We unconditionally support any struggle of women who personally seek the satisfaction of their own needs and expectations, but we simultaneously point out that capitalism is a social system that is organically founded on the exploitation of labour, and the differential oppression of women, races and coloured nations.
It cannot be transformed into something else (particularly its opposite) even if it can sometimes be forced into accepting individual provisions that partially satisfy our claims.
It is enough to look back over the last twenty years, with its demolition of social services even in developed countries and the worsening of many laws originally designed to "safeguard" women (in terms of support for unmarried mothers, divorce, abortion, alimony, etc.), in order to understand the determination with which markets, governments, churches and States intend to take back (with interest) what the previous struggles of women and the proletariat have managed to gain.
The same thing goes for the UN, whose role and aims are totally subordinate to the wishes of the major Western countries, particularly the USA. It is simply the other face of the IMF, which is justly hated throughout the world because of its cut-throat policies aimed at globalising poverty.
Over the last fifty years, in Korea, the Congo, Vietnam, Palestine, Iraq, Panama, Somalia, Jugoslavia, and elsewhere, it has always been on the side of the imperialists who attack, massacre and suck the blood of men and women united in the same bitter fate.
It is also an aggressor in its own right insofar as it justifies and orchestrates the globalisation of a capitalist-imperialist violence that is also directed against women. It is no accident that, if we look at the specific condition of women, the UN has delayed the petitions, decreed the ostracism and inflicted horrendous punishments on precisely those countries in which social revolutions had allowed women to make at least some steps in the right direction.
No. The world initiative represented by this march cannot expect any help from parliaments, governments, States or the UN: in order to ensure the continuity, strength, spread and greater organisation of the direct mobilisation of women, it is necessary to look in a different direction.
Towards the women who have not yet joined the battle, but who suffer the same contradictions and penalties as you and us; and towards the masses of the industrial proletariat and workers in towns and villages throughout the world, who include the large majority of women.
We declare that the struggle of women is an integral part of the struggle against a capitalist system that crushes everyone who works in order to live, and therefore call upon women to join the common fight against a class-based society of exploitation and racial and sexual inequality.
We also call upon exploited males by showing them that they can only gain from the "loss" of their minimal privileges (as slave masters) over "their" women. By means of this world union of women and the proletariat, we can open up the way towards social relationships that are free of class exploitation, the trade of human beings and sexual oppression, and reflect a general and egalitarian world social cooperation based on the common ownership of the means of work and the self-activation of the masses. This is real communism!