Susan Dorazio, former Convenor of the Women’s Commission in the Socialist Party of the USA, and currently a member of the SSP in Glasgow, has sent us this contribution for International Women’s Day.

In August 1914? World War I erupted, leading to the slaughter of millions. Inter­national Women’s Day became a focal point for those calling for an immediate end to the war. On February 23, 1917, (March 8 on the Gregorian calendar), thousands of Russian women celebrated International Women’s Day by surging onto the streets of Petrograd demanding peace. These militant protests led to the downfall of the czar and, soon afterward, Russia’s decision to leave the war.

Senseless war continues. Once again we are told that military action in Iraq and Afghanistan is intended to promote free­dom and peace, and once again we know the real reasons are about power and wealth. As we demonstrate our opposition to war and occupation this and every In­ternational Women’s Day, we commemo­rate the heroic actions of the women in Petrograd in 1917 and the women in Te­hran in 1979. In doing so, we maintain an unbroken link in the struggle for peace, justice, and equality.

About International Women’s Day and Power

International Women’s Day is about power: theirs and ours. Their power puts courts and legislatures in charge of whether or not a woman can have an abortion. Our power leaves this decision where it belongs: with the woman her­self. Their power dictates a profit-driven managed care health care system, at the service of the health insurance industry and transnational pharmaceutical compa­nies. Our power lies in grassroots organiz­ing, for a national system of universal health care under community control.

Their power rests in greedy corporations owned by an ultra-wealthy few that deplete the world’s resources and exploit its peo­ple. Our power depends on building a mass movement for a new society rooted in coop­eration, equality, and workers’ control.

Their power dumps toxic waste sites in our poorest communities-of-color, and builds dams that destroy the livelihoods of count­less farmers in our poorest countries. Our power demands environmental jus­tice. Their power busts unions. Our power is at our worksites, talking with our co-workers about the connections between workers’ rights, human rights, and women’s rights. Their power is welfare reform that pushes women into low-paid, dead-end jobs, and their children into inadequate child care. Our power is the fight for the creation of good jobs with pay equity and benefits, and the full funding of quality child care, education, and social services.

Their power dupes young men and women into signing away their rights and often their lives for the sake of U.S. imperial­ism. Our power gets the word out on alternatives to jobs in the military and calls for huge cuts in the military budget Their power blames hunger and poverty on over-population. Our power blames hunger and poverty on policies and practices consciously designed to protect and enrich the global capitalist class, in particular the agribusiness of the most developed countries.

Their power gets channeled through politicians whose primary allegiance is to the economic requirements of global capitalism. Our power gets exerted through political action completely in­dependent of both mainstream, capital­ist parties. Their power resides in ex­ploitation, inequality, domination, vio­lence, and deception. Our power resides in cooperation, compassion, respectful communication, justice, and collective action.

March 8th — International Women’s Day is our day

It’s our opportunity to come together to speak out for a world where de­mocratic socialist feminist values and programs enable people to live lives in ways they never will be able to un­der capitalism and patriarchy. That’s the truth. That’s our power.

History

1909: The Woman’s National Committee of the Socialist Party calls for a national day of protest on the last Sunday of Feb­ruary to support women’s suffrage in the context of the broader movement for women’s rights, workers’ rights, and so­cial justice

1910: The Women’s Congress of the So­cialist International meets in August in Copenhagen and approves the call for an international day of protest. The specific date is left open to the participants in each country.

1913: Russian socialists begin celebrating International Women’s Day. Their inten­tion is to organize rallies for the same day as that set in the United States, but since their Julian calendar lags several days be­hind the Gregorian calendar, the events take place in early March by our reckon­ing.

1917: The date of March 8 for Interna­tional Women’s Day gets established when tens of thousands of women, dem­onstrating on that day in Petrograd, the capital of Russia, spark a revolution that topples three centuries of czarist autoc­racy.

Since then, the revolutionary history of In­ternational Women’s Day has been hon­ored by countless women around the world: for example, by the women of Iran who, in the face of the reactionary dictums of the Ayatollah Khomeini, took to the streets in 1979 to demand equality; and by the thousands of women who, since 1999, have taken part each March 8 in the Global Women’s Strike for a global society based on caring, not killing.

The Socialist Party is a socialist femi­nist organization that recognizes that a struggle against habitual male domi­nance and patriarchy must go hand in hand with any struggle against capital­ism. Therefore, we pledge our opposi­tion to all forms of sexism, and demand equality in all aspects of life.

Socialist Party USA Platform