International Publication

They Were Workers

by Marina Quintillán on Nuevo Rumbo

The 120 women assassinated by the New York police on March 8, 1857, were workers when they fought against squalid wages and grueling days in the textile industry.

The 146 workers who died were burned to death in March 1908 at the Cotton textile factory in New York, under the firebombs thrown at them for fighting against the infamous working conditions they endured.

The 146 workers who died in March 1911 during the terrible fire of another textile factory were workers, because the Triangle Shirtwaist employers had sealed the exits to prevent the employees from stealing. Out of the rubble of this terrible tragedy was born the International Union of Textile Workers.

It was communists and workers who in 1910 established March 8 as the International Day of Working Women. Today we are trying to present March 8 as a day for women in general, united by common causes, without class distinction, to which its institutionalization by the UN in 1975 contributed, seeking to eliminate its original, worker and revolutionary matrix.

But it was also women workers who on March 8, 1917, demonstrated in Petrograd demanding bread and an end to the imperialist war and initiating the insurrectional strike that put an end to the tsarist autocracy.

From the bourgeois and petty bourgeois perspective, gender oppression can be overcome by improving capitalism. This analysis hides the fact that the oppression of women is based on material bases, on objective relations of production and property. The appearance of private property is in the historical origin of the patriarchy. The full incorporation and rights to socially useful work, the assumption of care as a task of the whole society, are fundamental premises for the emancipation of women. Without economic independence, there is no real emancipation.

The centers of production of the dominant ideology work tirelessly to hide the link between the various forms of oppression and violence that run through our society and their material and objective roots. According to this version, wars are produced by the natural hostility between races and religious creeds, not by the conquest of markets, raw materials and oil, and women are oppressed for the mere fact of being.

In reality, the oppression, discrimination and violence suffered by women in our society, are due to a great extent to being, in addition to being a woman, a worker, and to being so precisely under the conditions of capitalism.

As Rosita Schaefer rightly pointed out, Soviet women were already voting, having the right to safe and legal abortion, and participating in political life, when the suffragettes won (selectively moreover) the right to vote. The capitalist “democracies” reluctantly included the female vote in their legislation with a long delay compared to the Soviet Union. In England, until 1928 women had to be homeowners and over 30 to vote. France and Italy did not allow it until 1946 after the defeat of Nazi-fascism.

It is not by chance that the first workers’ and socialist state corresponded to the pioneering legislation on suffrage and participation on an equal footing of women in labor, social and political life. The right to divorce, abortion, paid maternity leave, the abolition of prostitution.

The socialization of domestic work, the mass literacy of women, their incorporation into production with equal pay, and the management and direction of production, were pioneering achievements of Socialism that paved the way for the demands of millions of women in the world. whole.

Those who opened that path were also workers, in power.