International Women’s Day started over a hundred years ago by the struggle of working class women to form trade unions and fight for the right to vote. There is a rich history of women leading from the front, fighting for their rights. From needle trade workers in New York in 1908, and Clara Zetkin in Germany organising the International Socialist Women’s conference in the same year, to the insurrectionary women of Petrograd in 1917 in Russia demanding Peace and Bread, to the women in China in 1919 fighting for women’s pay and condition and the end of child labour.
We will not forget Sylvia Pankhurst, anti-fascist, communist, feminist, internationalist, in East London who founded the East London Federation of Suffragettes, after being expelled from the Women’s Social and Political Union, for standing in solidarity with the Irish workers in the Dublin Lockout in 1913.
We celebrate the women of Cuba, such as Celia Sanchez who played a leading role in the early revolutionary movement in the 1950s, Vilma Espin who led the setting up of the Cuban Federation of Women in 1960 after the triumph of the Revolution, to Mariela Castro who founded the current National Centre for Sex Education.
To all the anti-imperialist fighters for women’s emancipation with examples like Nawal El Sadawi from Egypt who fought to show how patriarchy and capitalism oppress women. And we stand with the brave steadfast Palestinian women whose daily resistance inspires us.
In Britain today the fight goes on as the cost-of-living crisis disproportionately affects women. Immense pressure is put on women in the home, in terms of childcare and domestic labour, and in the workplace, women have worse pay and conditions than men. The struggle is against domestic violence, racism, sexism, disability discrimination and against the homophobia and transphobia of a capitalist system that benefits from women’s continued oppression.
In 2023, Focus E15 campaign joins residents of Victoria Street, to fight together against a Labour council which continues to give pathetic excuses for the ongoing suffering of families with children, mostly single mothers, housed in rooms built for one young person, where parents and children share beds and there’s no space for growth and development, homework or play. In the fifth richest country in the world, this is truly shameful. Women will continue to fight back.
Join us to celebrate our history of struggle and our continued resistance on the weekly stall Saturdays 12-2pm outside Wilko’s on Stratford Broadway E15 and at our next public meeting on Saturday 1 April.