Working women: the heart of any revolutionary movement

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What follows are excerpts from a statement by Radical Women (Mujeres Radicales) in El Salvador delivered at an International Women’s Day commemoration this year on Sunday, March 7 at the Workers’ and Peasants’ School and headquarters of Mujeres Radicales in San Salvador.

In the capitalist society in which we live, women are second- or third-class citizens. Moreover, this system underestimates our capacity and will to improve our own conditions. For this to change, women must become active in political life. We must make our voices heard in demanding our rights.

It is necessary and urgent that we build a working women’s movement in El Salvador, with broad participation from women already involved in struggle through unions, cooperatives, and other kinds of representative and revolutionary organizations. Our movement must be clear that there will be no gains for working people without the takeover of political power. Our goal should be the emancipation of all oppressed and exploited men and women, which can only be won through our own efforts.

Class consciousness key to the emancipation of women. Why is it important that this be a movement of working women? It is because working women share a class identity: we have only our ability to work as a means to survive.

The working people of El Salvador — men, women, boys, and girls — make up 83 percent of a population of 6.5 million. This exploited majority produces the wealth of society, but is robbed of the right to live a truly human existence. Our class identity shapes our consciousness and our actions. As workers, we have a duty to respect and fulfill proletarian principles.

Class struggle is the force that drives history. The battle for women’s liberation must be considered within its framework because as long as the capitalists remain the dominant class, neither women nor men will be free. Only a society with a collectivized economy can bring emancipation.

The importance of feminism for women and for men. Creating a working women’s movement is a task that will take time, patience, and dedication, since women face the most difficulties in becoming politically active everywhere. But history teaches us that the success of a revolutionary movement depends on the degree of women’s participation.

Capitalism, through its ideological apparatus and historical tradition, isolates women from all liberation struggles by limiting our role in society. These roles are not easy, but they are considered inferior. For example, women work as child-raisers, teachers, nurses, prostitutes, and housewives. Sexism turns women into commercial objects whose labor fills the pockets of the bosses.

In order to achieve women’s complete emancipation and real equality in all spheres, we must learn the history of capitalism and the means by which women have been subjugated through studying books such as Frederick Engel’s The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Evelyn Reed’s Woman’s Evolution, the Radical Women Manifesto, and V.I. Lenin’s Emancipation of Women.

And both men and women must gain in awareness. We need workingclass men to appreciate the importance of women’s political participation.

Through both sexes sharing responsibilities at work, at home, and in child-raising, women will have time to educate ourselves and to develop our organizational skills. This will enable women to overcome obstacles of time, ability, and opportunity, and men and women will thus be able to walk hand in hand on the path of liberation.

Revolution: prerequisite for human development. Capitalism did not appear suddenly; it is the result of the development of the forces of production over a whole era, and of wars by means of which the strongest have conquered the weakest. To preserve its dominion and to perpetuate its sacrosanct private property, it uses not only war but sophisticated technological methods, permanent terror, psychological control through the mass media, and much else; its customs, traditions, evils, and prejudices dominate our world.

It is not going to disappear easily.

But when we have come to understand the society under which we live and what we must do to overcome it, then we will be able to shake off those who have kept us in ignorance for generation after generation. Those whom we make wealthy while they rob us of our own material well-being, our culture, and our history. Those who deny us our rights, use us in their wars among themselves, lie to us with fake elections, and destroy our ecosystem. It is then that we will be able to bring about the demise of those who have humiliated us, exploited us, and appropriated the fruits of our labor for centuries.

The workingclass struggle is one for a transformation of society that will lead to socialism. Let us not forget that it is only when women are aware of their importance in this process, and join the battle in great numbers, that change will be won.

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