A Road Well Travelled

Sandra Conlon on an international seminar of communist and workers’ parties on the struggle for women’s rights

It’s a long way from Ireland to Azerbaijan, yet a seminar of communist and workers’ parties held in Brussels on March 26th 2010 saw women from twenty four countries give voice to their struggle in terms of employment, working conditions, health, educa­tion, services and politics. 

While there have been many advances in the equality struggle, it was stressed that in the year of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day we must again reas­sert the crucial role communist and workers’ parties play in the struggle for women’s equality and freedom. It is still important for the women’s movement of today and the work­ing class women of Ireland to feel part of that struggle.

Women’s position under the capitalist crisis was addressed by all participants, and the need to stand by women, especially those who experience greater pressure due to personal and family difficulties was stressed. The need to attract working men and women to the organised class struggle was also highlighted.

Every participant spoke of the historical origins of the radical women’s struggle. The Work­ers’ Party of Ireland’s contribution articulated the writings of James Connolly, an inspirational figure in the history of Irish Socialism.

It was Connolly who wrote in his seminal work The Re-Conquest of Ireland,

“In Ireland the women’s cause is felt by all labour and women as their cause, the labour cause has no more earnest and whole-hearted supporters than the militant women….. The worker is the slave of the capitalist society and the female worker is the slave of that slave.”

It is vital that the Workers’ Party and other progressives continue to address the rights of women. In this, the year of the 100th anniver­sary of the declaration of March 8th as International Women’s Day, let us stand together against the double oppression of women, not by waving pink balloons but by organising within our communities, work places, homes and beyond to defeat our marginalization.