To our socialist feminist sisters and brothers in the United States: You are not alone, and we are not alone!

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While celebrating our 35th anniversary last year, the PRT also commemorated the changing of our name in September 2006, at our 18th Congress. From that moment forward, the Partido Revolucionario de Trabajadores became the Partido Revolucionario de las Trabajadoras y los Trabajadores — the Revolutionary Party of Female and Male Workers. Although this change might seem insignificant, it is not, because it accords justice to women, who have long been ignored “by the word and in the word,” as Costa Rican writer Yadira Calvo says. The change also represents a political landmark because, along with it, the Party committed to work for the real inclusion of women as equals and as leaders.

Without a doubt, we took that great step toward incorporating the liberation of oppressed women and men into our theory and practice thanks largely to our experience of fraternal coordination and mutual respect with the U.S. Freedom Socialist Party (FSP). In fact, we remember the 18th Congress with special affection because an enthusiastic delegation from FSP was present — a decisive factor in our voting to change the PRT’s name.

For Costa Rican and Central American socialist feminists, it is an honor that the pages of the Freedom Socialist are open to us. We cannot thank the FSP and Radical Women enough, and we also want to let you know that the seed you planted in Central America is sprouting and growing. Comrades, we are happy to assert that you are not alone under the banner of socialist feminism and, moreover, that your struggle encourages us to redouble our efforts here at the thin waist of the American continent.

Neither a true Party nor a revolutionary International can exist without decisive participation by working women. However, patterns and chauvinistic behaviors typical of patriarchal society are still reproduced inside left parties.

Also undeniable is that women suffer the most from the violence and barbarism of capitalism, which is increasingly more brutal. The abuse against them takes multiple forms, including sexual harassment and the constant increase in the number of female victims of murder and human trafficking, which has become one of the most profitable businesses. Trafficking subjects large numbers of women, especially poor immigrants, to diverse forms of slavery — labor slavery, sexual slavery, and forced marriage.

If working women are the most exploited and oppressed sector of the working class and of humanity, that in itself gives working women a great potential and capacity to fight. Experience teaches us that hundreds of working women, whose names we do not know because they are always ignored, break into History, impelled by the concrete need to defend and protect their children from hunger, lack of housing, and misery. One might think that they act in this way to fulfill their stereotypical role that obligates them to be “good mothers.” But, in fact, it is this same drive that makes them confront the conditions of misery and hopelessness that the capitalist system creates.

To paraphrase Marx, “It is impossible to liberate oneself while oppressing another.” It is not possible to adopt consistently revolutionary positions without taking into account oppression at home, in the labor and popular movements, in unions, and in the Party itself. This is something we must fight every day. As long as working women experience violence, discrimination, and humiliation from their partners and comrades, the ruling class will survive and grow stronger, while the working class becomes weaker.

In the same way that male workers fight against their employers and the capitalist state that exploits them, so they should also fight backward ideas generated by anti-youth ageism, xenophobia, prejudice against LGBT people and, above all, oppression against women. Women must cease to be the “proletariat of the proletariat,” as Flora Tristan declared in the 19th century.

The banner of socialist feminism is ours, just as it is yours. And under this banner, we reaffirm that without women’s participation at the forefront of the socialist struggle, the foundations of true socialism cannot be built.

PRT leader Patricia Ramos is a labor lawyer with an employee union at the University of Costa Rica, mother of two, and former candidate for Costa Rican vice president on a united left slate.

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