By Harper Cleves
The socialist feminist revolutionaries that established International Women’s Day were inspired by young immigrant women garment workers in New York City who instigated an 11 week strike in 1909 against exploitation and gender oppression.
Moving into 2022, history seems to be repeating itself; not only in that a system built on profit is unable to fundamentally address the oppression faced by women today; but also in that it is those most exploited and most oppressed around the world whose courage is leading the way in the fight for a more just society.
In Myanmar last year, some of the most exploited women workers – including garment workers and health care workers – were at the helm of the uprising against the corrupt regime; even in the face of targeted violence against women.
In Turkey, 285 women were murdered in 2021. In March, July, and again on the 25 November, women and LGBTQ+ people around the country staged huge protests in the face of police brutality in order to pressure the Erdogan government to rejoin the Istanbul Convention, and establish a plan to address male violence against women.
In both Mexico and Argentina, on the back of the Ni Una Menos movement against gender violence and femicide, activists won historic victories in the fight for bodily autonomy; in Mexico abortion is no longer a punishable offense, and in Argentina abortion is now legal up to fourteen weeks.These victories for bodily autonomy took inspiration from the 2018 Irish victory, and will in turn provide inspiration to women and pregnant people around the world who are having their rights attacked.
In the United States we have seen in 2021 the seeds or a constitutional ban on abortion being planted; but we have also seen the potential for a feminist fight back as well. In Poland, the death of a young woman who died as a result of not being able to receive and emergency abortion sparked outrage reminiscent of the death of Savita and demonstrated that the establishment should be prepared for more feminist struggle in the years ahead.
From struggle to liberation
At the time of writing in 2022, the murder of Ashling Murphy in Tullamore has proven to be a breaking point for people across the island of Ireland as thousands attend vigils and protests in small towns and big cities alike.
These protests around the world fight for abortion rights and an end to the murder of women; but in reality they are fighting for dignity and respect in a world that robs people of their well-being and lives in the name of profit. These struggles, and the victories gleaned from them, will give confidence to all who are exploited and oppressed by this rotten capitalist order – from workers, the poor, to people of colour– and demonstrate that the fight for a better world is possible when we fight together.
We do not have to accept the world our capitalist rulers have given us: systemic inequality, oppression, murderous wars and the destruction of our ecosystem. We have the power to overturn their rotten order and build a humane, democratic and socialist society, one built on solidarity and equality where the collective ownership and democratic control of society’s wealth can allow each of us to flourish. In short: we can have bread and roses too.