Every year on March 8th, International Women’s Day is celebrated all over the world. Today, it has become what is essentially a day to raise awareness about the oppression of women. This year, it has particular significance because it is also the anniversary of the beginning of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Most people are not aware of the fact that on March 8th 1917 it was actually women who started the events that created the revolution. This began a revolutionary process that brought the working class to power, allowing for spectacular advancements for women.

This year March 8 in Italy will not be the same as other years. We live in a system that is no longer able even to pretend to guarantee decent living conditions for the majority of the people and this is reflected in particular in the terrible situation facing women. In the past few months, however, in dozens of countries around the world we have seen hundreds of thousands of women expressing their anger against the system, and taking to the streets to in defence of their rights.

The former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman.

Jeremy Corbyn’s statement in favour of decriminalisation of prostitution on Friday once again brought the wrath of the Parliamentary Labour Party against him. The right-wing majority amongst female Labour MPs saw their opportunity to hypocritically strike another blow against Corbyn. The evidence is clear that these MPs have supported and continue to support policies directly in contradiction with the interests of working class women.

Hillary Clinton Testimony to House Select Committee on Benghazi.

In the current campaign to receive the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, Hillary Clinton has tried to portray herself as a defender of women’s rights, appealing to “sisterhood” and the possibility of becoming the first female president in order to galvanize support. While there is certainly a layer who views her as the most progressive candidate because of her gender, many young women and men in the U.S. can see right through the smoke and mirrors, and recognize Clinton as a member of the increasingly hated establishment.

International Working Women's Day demonstration.

Working women have been struggling for complete equality in the workplace for over a century. In fact, a common thread running through many countries throughout the 20th Century was the struggle for “equal pay for work of equal value”, which meant irrespective of gender a worker should receive the same wage for the same kind of work. We are still not there, and with the onset of the crisis in 2008 things have begun to get worse.

The ideas of Feminism have traditionally found support in universities, and these ideas are currently enjoying a surge in popularity amongst students. At a time when the ideas of Marxism are also finding a growing echo in the student movement, what attitude do Marxists take towards different feminist ideas? How far are these schools of thought compatible? What are the points of contention between them? And what does it mean to call yourself a “Marxist-Feminist”?

Over 100 years have passed since the first International Women’s Day was organized. Although International Women’s Day (IWD) has, in recent years, become an event that focuses on the celebration of women’s rights and achievements, the socialist origins of the IWD have become lesser known.

Two women munitions workers stand beside examples of the shells produced at National Shell Filling Factory No.6, Chillwell, Nottinghamshire during the First World War. Nicholls Horace © IWM (Q 30017)

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the media is dedicating much time and attention to it. However, one aspect which so far has not received sufficient consideration is the role played by women during those dramatic and bloody years.

Umbrella from the We Are Woman rally, 18 August. Photo: We Are Woman

So-called “pro-life” opponents of a woman’s right to choose have led a fervent battle against the basic liberties of women across the globe this past year. In the United States, the Republicans and Democrats brought out their old bag of tricks and dug up various social issues calculated to rally potential voters behind their respective parties.

This article, which was published in the Workers' Republic in September in 1915 demonstrates Connolly's ideas around the treatment of working women in Ireland. Specifically the way that women were exploited by capitalism. 97 years later these ideas have lost none of their power and clarity.

Women in the Paris Commune.

“We have come to the supreme moment, when we must be able to die for our Nation. No more weakness! No more uncertainty! All women to arms! All women to duty! Versailles must be wiped out!” These were the words of Nathalie Lemel, participant in the Paris Commune of 1871, and member of the Union des Femmes pour la Defense de Paris et les Soins aux Blesses (The Union of Women for the Defense of Paris and Aid to the Wounded).

Join us!

Help build the forces of Marxism worldwide!

Join the IMT!