The idea of guaranteed quotas for women on trade union and party committees has become fashionable. But there are no shortcut solutions to this problem. Inequality exists because of capitalism and will continue to exist as long as capitalism exists. This inequality can only be fought by a united struggle of the whole labour movement. Only when capitalism is abolished and a system of democratic planning introduced will we be able to create the material basis for all inequality and prejudice to whither away once and for all.

Today is International Working Women’s Day – originally instituted not as a day to celebrate, but as a day for militancy and action. Now many liberal institutions and feminist organizations recognize International Women’s Day, but few acknowledge its roots or its historical significance. They have in fact attempted to remove the class content of this day of struggle.

For Marxists, the root cause of all forms of oppression consists in the division of society into classes. But oppression can take many forms. Alongside class oppression we find the oppression of one nation over another, racial oppression, and the oppression of women.

 "The working woman and the peasant woman are oppressed by capital, but over and above that, even in the most democratic of the bourgeois republics, they remain, firstly, deprived of some rights because the law does not give them equality with men; and secondly - and this is the main thing - they remain in "household bondage", they continue to be “household slaves", for they are overburdened with the drudgery of the most squalid, backbreaking and stultifying toil in the kitchen and the family household." V.I.Lenin, March 4, 1921

The early origins of International Women’s Day are closely linked to the struggle of women textile workers. This year’s International Women’s Day finds 240 textile workers, mainly women, occupying the premises of the Sel-Fex company in Caracas. Their struggle is no longer just a struggle against the bosses for concrete demands, but a struggle to defend the Bolivarian revolution and to build a better future for Venezuelan working women and all working people in general.

While middle class feminists regard the oppression of women as an inherent biological trait of men, Marxism explains that the root of women's oppression lies not in biology, but in social conditions. Marxism sees the liberation of working class women as a part of the struggle for the liberation of the working class as a whole. While feminists set women against men, the socialist movement attempts to forge solidarity between male and female workers in a common struggle against capitalist exploitation.

We are publishing a letter about the conditions of female immigrants to Europe written by Marina Kosara, a member of the Young Socialists in Vienna who works with immigrants.

The Irish population in a referendum has just rejected a government move to further restrict women's limited access to abortions. This is a blow for the reactionaries but the right to abortion is still out of reach for most Irish women, being available only to those who can afford to travel to Britain.

Peter Doyle, an organiser for the public sector union Unison in Cumbria, Northern England, reports on the Equal Value claims that his union region is submitting to the government to get women workers in traditional "women's jobs" in the health service the same levels of pay as workers in traditional "men's jobs". They are on the verge of an important victory.

On the occasion of the International Day against Violence against women we are publishing this article on the murders of women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. More than 4,000 women, young workers and students, have disappeared since 1993 in this Mexican city in the US border. Recent investigations have uncovered a network linking these disappearances to drugs, smuggling, political corruption, etc.

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