Let’s celebrate International Women’s Day in 2019, by honouring women around the world who have stood up to the resurgence of a patriarchal, alt-right, fascist movement with courage, integrity, wisdom and expertise. Let’s celebrate the courage of these women who have confronted the right-wing resurgence in Latin America, the rampant misogyny and oppression of Dutarte, Modi and Trump. Let’s celebrate the women who have exposed the failings of the Trudeau government, and women who have played a leading role in exposing provincial governments’ oppressive policies in conservative-led provinces across Canada.
Marielle Franco, a gay Brazilian feminist, human rights activist and City Councillor was brutally murdered by police agents just days after last year’s IWD. A black, lesbian single mother, Franco was born and raised in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Rio de Janeiro. Once elected, she confronted the epidemic of state violence, including the planned military take-over of the city’s favelas. Almost a year after her murder, police finally issued a warrant for her suspected killer, a former military police captain who has ties to Brazil’s far right President, Jair Bolsonaro. Franco had the courage to stand up against the renewed fascist leadership in Brazil and her example gives hope to women and democracy supporters in Venezuela and across Latin America, who must now resist the possibility of a Brazilian-led and American-supported intervention in the region. In Canada, the Trudeau government has proclaimed support for the opposition forces. Chrystia Free-land, standing alongside Jair Bolsonaro to declare their support for the self-appointed coup President in Venezuela, confirms the right-ward turn of our current government. We must be as courageous as Franco and raise our voices against any foreign intervention.
In the Philippines, India and the United States, women have confronted oppressive regimes. We celebrate Maria Ressa, co-founder of the prominent Philippine news site Rappler, and Senator Leila de Lima who have both been recently arrested for challenging President Dutarte’s brutal misogynistic agenda. We applaud the women of the CPI(M) in Kerala, who organized a march that attracted five million women to demand caste and gender equality rights. We commend the integrity of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who spoke at the Brent Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings for every woman who has ever been demeaned, abused or assaulted. The installation of another right-leaning Supreme Court Justice is another step toward towards weakened abortion laws which would be huge step backwards for women. We cannot let this happen.
In Canada, we honour indigenous sisters and comrades who continue to demand measures to address systemic violence against indigenous women and girls. The circumstances of the SNC-Lavalin scandal leading to Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from federal cabinet expose the Trudeau government’s false claims to be “feminist and transparent” and interested in moving forward with reconciliation.
We celebrate the wisdom of Sandy Hudson, organizer of Black Lives Matter Toronto who leads the fight for black women’s voices to be heard in the struggle against gender violence and police brutality. Rayne Fisher-Quann and Indygo Arscott, high school students who organized and led the historic walk-out of students across Ontario in defiance of Doug Ford’s claw-back of the modernized sex-education and indigenous curriculum. Over 40,000 students from over 100 schools across the province walked out – one of the most successful mobilizations led by students.
Ford has since cut funding for rape crisis centres, the College of Midwives, childcare, the basic income pilot program, closed the Child Advocate Office, cancelled the scheduled minimum wage increase to $15 an hour, dismantled the student unions in universities and colleges and is introducing privatization of the public healthcare system. All of these cuts disproportionately impact women, especially indigenous, racialized and low-income women. Other provinces have brought in similar programs as Canadian politics shifts to the right. Women must unite the fightback against these right-wing measures and ensure the Jason Kenney is not elected in Alberta to join the ranks of the right-wing Premiers.
We applaud the British Columbia’s progress towards introduction of ten dollar a day childcare, and their pledge to enshrine universal daycare into law. These are positive moves that build on Quebec’s $7.55 daycare, gains won by women and the labour movement which should be front and centre in the upcoming federal election.
Women have every right to be celebrating this International Women’s Day with righteous anger. According to Marielle Franco, “for women, fighting is a part of daily life. Every day we feel its reflections. When we take our kids to school and there are no classes. When we have to work and there’s no place for our kids in daycare. A woman’s fight will never end.” We fight for the elimination of the plagues that come with capitalism – the patriarchy and misogyny of gender violence, police brutality and oppression. We must fight for the rights of all working-class women to be safe, in their community, in their workplaces, in their unions and at home.
We need to focus our anger on creating a pan-Canadian women’s organization of equality-seeking groups, part of a wider struggle to win reforms that will advance the interests of the working class. We must unite progressive forces to build the resistance against the resurgence of neo-liberalism.
The Communist Party of Canada demands Full Gender Equality NOW:
- Restore funding for women’s equality programs.
- Close the wage gap – legislate full pay and employment equity.
- Guarantee accessible and publicly funded abortion and reproductive rights services in every province and territory.
- Create a universal, accessible, affordable, quality, public childcare system, with Canada-wide standards and union wages for childcare workers.
- Protect women’s right to EI maternity coverage; expand parental benefits to 52 weeks.
- End all forms of violence against women and provide adequate funding for crisis centres and transition houses. Repeal Bill C-36!
- Scrap USMCA, TPP and other treaties for corporate rule.
- No to foreign intervention in Venezuela! End the Cuban Blockade!
- No to Islamophobia! End US, Canadian, and NATO intervention in the Middle East, zero tolerance for Islamophobic and gendered violence, and open Canada’s doors to immigrants and refugees.
- Repeal the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement.
- Repeal Bill C-31 and other unconstitutional and undemocratic security state laws.
- Repeal the Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, which the Trudeau Liberals supported.
- No to austerity. No to war.
- People’s needs – not corporate greed!
(Women in this statement includes All women.)
International Women’s Day 2019, statement by the Central Women’s Commission, Communist Party of Canada