Capitalism means crisis. The cost of living crisis, the unfolding climate catastrophe with millions being forced to flee and seek refuge, conflicts and wars from the barbaric onslaught on Gaza, to the war in Ukraine, to Nagorno Karabakh and Yemen. All increase the level of violence and disproportionately impact women and the most oppressed sections of society.
Even in ‘normal’ times, capitalism relies on rigid gender roles where women carry the major responsibility for the care of all family members. In times of war, women are in the frontline of the battle for survival. It’s not a coincidence that over 60% of the people massacred in Gaza have been women and children.
Violence and sexual assault as weapons of war
Gender-based violence and sexual assault are often used as a weapon of war, as a mean to terrorise and control the population. Conflicts create refugees with millions being forced to flee their homes. As we saw in the case of Ukraine, women were forced into a situation of heightened insecurity and economic vulnerability that increased the risk of them finding themselves at the receiving end of human traffickers.
The world situation more than ever requires international cooperation and solidarity. How else can we solve the climate crisis, for example? But under the capitalist system we see the exact opposite – increasing world rivalries, militaristic arms race and ‘divide and rule’. This inflames chauvinism, aggression and the exclusion of women and gender non-conforming people.
The brutal attack launched by Hamas on 7 October led personal gun purchases in Israel to triple within a matter of weeks, which would not only increase far-right settler attacks in the occupied West Bank, but also risk the lives of women in the region. Arab-Palestinian and Israeli-Jewish women within the Green Line have been protesting and striking together several times over the years against the silent epidemic of femicide.
Fight against Tory culture wars!
In Britain, the response by the Tories (without significant opposition from the Labour Party) to the many crises taking place has been to inflame divisive ‘culture war’ rhetoric. They are targeting trans people, refugees and most recently all those showing solidarity with the Palestinian people. Their response is attempting to stop working-class people from uniting through using forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, transphobia and xenophobia.
Capitalism can’t solve any of these crises because it created them in the first place. The British capitalist and imperialist state played a key role in stoking up conflicts that were never resolved – in Palestine pre-1948, India-Pakistan and Ireland, just to name a few. It puts its own interests of influence, power and profits at the expense of our most basic needs.
Build a mass, united working class movement to fight oppression
The capitalist system has to go to get rid of poverty, militarism and war. The way we can do it is by mobilising the combined power and strength that we have as the multi-gender, multi-racial, international working class. Our struggle is an international fight.
An internationalist approach can overcome these nationalist, ethnic and gender divisions and point the way forward as we saw in the ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ struggle in Iran. This movement united different sections of the working class, men, women and gender non-conforming people, Kurdish and Iranians from varied ethnic backgrounds. This is what we’re striving to build: a united working-class movement which is based on solidarity, internationalism and anti-imperialism.
International solidarity has been a key feature of feminist and other movements in recent years. We went out and protested following the tragic murders of Sarah Everard, George Floyd and Brianna Ghey. An injury to one is an injury to all. The daily racist, sexist and transphobic violence has been answered with radical action and solidarity.
Join us on 25 November, the international day for the elimination of gender-based violence. This will be a first step in building an international, socialist feminist movement against every form of oppression and exploitation. We need to turn this year’s day for the elimination of gender-based violence into a day of mass action against the attacks on our rights, the rise of violence, war and imperialism, the cost of living crisis and the crisis-ridden capitalist system.