Call of the Central Committee of Communist Ghadar Party of India, 1 March, 2012
International Women’s Day, on 8 March, 2012, comes at a time when more and more women are coming out on the streets, in our country and all over the world. They are protesting against their conditions and demanding their rights as women, as working people and as human beings.
Women of India are raising their voices against the increasing economic insecurity and super-exploitation of working women. They are protesting against the growing corruption and violence against them in daily life. Reports of rapes are a daily phenomenon in our country, showing that women do not even enjoy the right to walk on the streets without being threatened with harassment and violence.
Countless numbers of girl children are denied the right to life itself; they are killed before they are born. Those who survive face numerous obstacles to participating in economic and political affairs on an equal footing with boys and men.
Women are denied the right to decide when and whom to marry, how many children to bear and when to bear them. Millions of childbearing women lack access to basic trained care to ensure safe childbirth.
Women and girls in our country continue to be burdened by the weight of the Brahmanical caste system and various religious strictures that limit their role in social life. The growth of capitalism, while drawing large numbers of women out of their homes and into factories and BPOs, has brought forth new forms of exploitation and oppression. It has raised the degree of insecurity, of violence and crimes against women.
The Constitution of the Indian Republic in 1950 did not make a clean break with the legacy of the colonial state erected by the British imperialists for plundering our land and labour. While it extended the right to vote to all adult women and men, it retained the basic foundations of the British Indian state as legalised by the Government of India Act of 1935. The communal definition of the polity was retained, with separate personal laws for Hindus, Muslims and others. Caste based reservation of electoral constituencies, communal organisation of the army and a top-down colonial centralised bureaucracy have all been retained and further perfected by the Indian bourgeoisie.
The Congress Party promised whatever the people wanted while implementing strictly what benefited the big capitalists and big landlords. Nehru declared that a socialistic pattern of society was being created, while in fact the biggest capitalist houses grew rapidly and monopolised the domestic market. They used the State to suppress the toiling masses and take the place of the white man in carrying out the plunder of our land and labour.
A woman in our country cannot seek legal protection for any right by virtue of being a woman and a human being. She first has to specify her religion and caste.
In the process of creating the illusion that a socialistic pattern of society was being created, various laws were passed including some relating to basic rights of women. However, no enabling provisions or enforcing mechanisms were created, leaving the laws to remain a dead letter. For instance, the Maternity Benefits Act of 1961 entitles every woman who has worked for 80 days to maternity leave with pay of at least 6 weeks; but very few women actually enjoy this in practice. On average, women earn only two-thirds of the income paid to men for the same quality and quantity of work, even though there is an Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
Women’s organisations were among the first to declare that the Nehruvian ‘socialistic pattern of society’ had not delivered on its promises. They pointed to the yawning gap between promise and reality, between various laws and the conditions on the ground.
The ruling capitalist class responded to the rising expectations and demands of working women and men by unleashing the program of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation. Rather than taking measures for the State to fulfil its duty to all citizens, they advocated the opposite – that the State should withdraw from providing goods and services and leave everyone to fend for himself or herself in the so-called free market. The failure of the Nehruvian model of capitalist growth was presented as being the failure of socialism. The international capitalist propaganda was pushed, that there is no alternative to market oriented economic reforms. Women have been in the forefront of the resistance to this all-round offensive.
Women have played an active role in the struggle against the anti-social offensive of the past 20 years, pursued under the banner of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation. The economic drive of Indian monopoly capital towards global domination has been accompanied by growing criminalisation of politics, institutionalisation of state terrorism, repeated acts of communal and sectarian violence of all kinds. Women have been vocal opponents of this all-round fascistic offensive.
The life experience of women and their struggles has brought home the realisation that the fundamental reason for the blatant violation of the rights of the vast majority of women and men lies in their exclusion from political power. The key to advance the struggle for the realisation of women’s rights as well as the rights of others lies in the political empowerment of women and men of the toiling majority.
The promise of 33% reservation of seats for women in Parliament and state legislative bodies was made out to be a great concession to women in their struggle for political empowerment. The point, however, is that the existing State is an instrument of capitalist rule. Increasing the number of women in the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies will not change this class nature of the existing political system.
The numerous scandals, from the Radia tapes to the 2G-Spectrum scam, have exposed the fact that what exists in the name of the “largest democracy in the world” is in fact a form of dictatorship of a minority class of capitalists, headed by big monopoly houses. It is a political system designed to ensure that the Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas and other monopoly houses control decision-making power and use it to enrich themselves as rapidly as possible. The monopoly houses finance the major political parties and their electoral campaigns. They select the Ministers for important portfolios and dictate the economic policies.
The Communist Ghadar Party of India believes that women need to fight for a new economic and political system, rather than focusing their energies on getting a few women into legislative bodies in the existing unrepresentative system.
The first practical step in the political awakening of women is to get together, as women, to discuss their common problems and their common struggle. Women need their own fighting organisations to strengthen their political participation, and to articulate and defend their rights, as women and as human beings.
Communist women must actively participate in the effort to build and strengthen women’s organisations, setting an example of uncompromising defence of the rights of women. They must clarify the perspective and vision of that society where women will be emancipated.
Working women have an important role to play in the struggle of the organised working class and in the struggle of women. One-third of all wage workers and salaried employees are women. With the experience of organised struggle of workers’ unions, they have an important role to play in organising women, as women.
There is an urgent need to build the foundations of the new state power, in the form of people’s samitis in the mohallas, bastis and villages. Women have a key role to play in building and strengthening such organs of people’s power.
Women have to be part of leading society out of its present morass. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain from the revolutionary transformation of society from capitalism to socialism. Socialism is a system in which class exploitation is eliminated, along with private property in the means of social production. The process of social production and reproduction will be socially planned, so as to fulfil the rising needs of the population and the need for investments to enhance productive capacity. Such a system of society would be geared to ensure healthy living and working conditions for all women, including guaranteed safe childbirth. Social planning will recognise the necessity for the emancipation of women and their equal participation with men in all affairs of society and the family.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2012, the Communist Ghadar Party of India salutes the women of all lands who are fighting to defend and affirm their rights. We call on women to strengthen their organised struggle and unite firmly in defence of their rights as women, as workers and as human beings.