Statement by Joanne Kuniansky, Socialist Workers Party candidate for New Jersey governor, March 8.
The fight for women’s emancipation is in the interest of all working people and is key to unifying the working class in the face of capitalist exploitation and oppression. Fewer questions are more important to building a working-class party and a movement of millions to advance the liberation of all humanity.
Defending a woman’s right to unrestricted family planning, including the right to safe and secure abortion, is fundamental to women controlling their own lives and to winning full social, economic and political equality. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in Poland, Ireland, Argentina and elsewhere to demand the right for women to choose to have an abortion. In Ireland and Argentina gains have been made that set an example for working people everywhere.
Decades of attacks by opponents of women’s rights and of working people have made serious inroads on women’s access to abortion in the U.S., hitting working-class women and those in rural areas especially hard. These assaults must be answered, with unqualified support for the right of women to make this crucial decision about their own lives and with protests in the streets led by unions and women’s rights organizations.
The integration of women into the workforce strengthens the working class and increases the centrality of the fight for women’s equality. Hundreds of thousands of women have joined protests by farmers in India on International Women’s Day, demanding the overturn of new laws that threaten to sacrifice farmers’ livelihoods to the profits of agricultural conglomerates. Women garment workers in Yangon, Myanmar, were among the first to organize strikes against the military coup there.
Blows are being dealt to the fight for women’s rights today by middle-class liberals, who claim that human beings are not born male or female, but can choose to be whatever sex they like. They deny the fact that in class society women are an oppressed sex, and they seek to erase the history of hard-fought battles for women’s emancipation. And they harass and try to silence anyone who speaks out against their anti-scientific views.
The fact is anti-women prejudices are declining among working people. This increases prospects that efforts by the bosses to pit women and men against each other, the better to exploit both, can be defeated in unified struggle. The historic fight to end the oppression of women — rooted in class society — and all forms of discrimination can only be carried through to the end by the working class taking political power.
The clearest example of what is possible is Cuba’s socialist revolution. By overturning capitalist rule, Cuban working people ended domination by the exploiting class that profits from the second-class status of women.
Led by Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement, they built a workers and farmers government and used it to take over the factories and banks; to nationalize the land and place it in the hands of those who wanted to farm it; to mobilize 250,000 young volunteers to eradicate illiteracy; to outlaw racial segregation; and to draw millions of women into social and political life for the first time. Their conquest of power established the indispensable foundations for advancing the fight to eradicate the subjugation of women and much more.
The SWP is building a working-class party in the U.S. to emulate that example. Join us!