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PHOTO CREDIT/Rally (USSFAtlanta); Domestic Worker Organizers (Sandy Reid); Mississippi Youth (Jonathan Lawson)
Women's position in society makes them a powerful force for change. Today in America, one-third of all families maintained by women live below the poverty level. Families headed by women of color are disproportionately poor. The revolution in the economy is throwing more and more women out of the job market. "Working women are very, very afraid,” said an Ohio union worker. Most of us are one negative event away from poverty. Even women like me: I have a Ph.D. but can only find part-time teaching jobs. If my husband dies before I do, I will be destitute."

But, Women’s History Month, 2008, will mainly be a time where the achievement of individual women from the corporate or government world such as Condolezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, and Hillary Clinton, the first woman running for President, will be lauded. They will be offered as proof that women have achieved their equality.

We have to ask: can women from the upper echelon of society alter the plight of the masses of women who are becoming poorer by the day?  They cannot. This is because destitution is endemic to capitalism, a system based on the drive for maximum profit and new labor-replacing technologies. The only solution for women —  and for men — is for those who are becoming part of the dispossessed class to join with the already dispossessed to overthrow this dying system. The goal must be to create a new social system based on this principle: to each according to their need, from each according to their individual talents and skills. Herein lies the importance of a powerful women’s movement.

Let us trace the progression of the women’s movement to see how integrally connected is their revolution with the revolution for a new cooperative world. 

Like all processes, the women’s struggle for equality develops in stages. In early matriarchal societies people lived cooperatively. Women played a leading role in early agricultural societies because production was centered around their work, the gathering of nuts and berries. Once the economy changed,  women over a long period of time became separated from the economic processes, increasing their dependency on the men. There could be no reversing this until a new productive process arose.

The invention of the first labor-saving housework tools arose around 1935. With the development of the vacuum, the dishwasher, and the washing machine, women were more free to enter the job market and hence to fight for their equality.  However, the massive women’s movement that arose in various countries based on the new conditions was a different movement than we see today. Then, it was a movement for women to become part of the capitalist system. Today, the majority of workers are being forced out of capitalism.

Women today are the numerical majority in society, the majority in the working class and the majority in the new class of destitute here and globally. Consequently, women's position makes them key to social change. For example, no one has to tell the woman in the street with children that those abandoned usable apartments the city is tearing down to create high-end housing should instead house her family.  No one has to tell the single mom that society has a responsibility to provide healthcare for all.

The point is that the objective conditions for change exist today. But, without women playing a conscious role, a revolutionary movement cannot be consolidated. It’s a question of revolutionary tactics.

International Women’s Day, 2008 finds our country at a critical juncture. We are facing a rapidly changing world. The woman question is at the very heart of the formation and politicization of the new class of dispossessed workers. Now is the time for revolutionaries – women and men— to provide the revolution with the indispensable ingredient of change: new ideas! It’s time to deliver a new society.

By Valerie Burris,
Volunteer, Michigan Welfare Rights Union

I got involved when my best girlfriend’s Mom got a $10,000 water bill. She took out a loan to save her home! I said. No. That makes no sense. Then, my own mother got a $1200 bill. I told the water company this is ridiculous. Where are these numbers coming from? I since found out that over 40,000 homes got water shut off notices. I’m President of my Block Club. This past summer the water company turned off five houses on my block. I called and said wait a minute — water rates continue to go up. It’s not that people don't want to pay, they can’t. Why turn off water? It’s a human right especially since Detroit owns its water (they’re trying to privatize it). I started going to the hearings each time they had another increase. People were crying, saying “I can't afford another increase.” Now they are starting to attach the water bills to your property taxes. Detroit has not only a high rate of mortgage foreclosures, but tax foreclosures. So a lot of seniors are now in jeapardy of losing their home. Water is a human right and you should be able to have water even if you can't afford it. We are surrounded by water. We put a skit on called “Detroit is Thirsty” to help educate people. I also talk to people standing out in the cold, wrapped around the block waiting to pay their water bill. I tell them, we can’t just complain. We have to band together! We have to get young people involved too.

To My American Sisters;  This will be our year.  In 2008, we will organize better, and wiser as we march toward that day we all dream about.Dr. King'sdream will not be denied, and we will put  both fire and speed toward ending poverty, ending war and securing peace for our children and for our world.  If we can see it, then we can believe it.  Sisters, I believe we can fly! Let us soar into a new existance where we share what we need for the good of us all. Let us unite these single streams of battle into a tidal wave of resistance that will wipe from the face of this earth all those who study war, who practice unconscionable greed, and who will not die unless whe shove them into their graves.  Remember, "WE GET WHAT WE ORGANIZE TO TAKE!"  Long


New Book: Teatro Chicana, A collective Memoir and Selected Plays, profiles seventeen women in the Chicana Movement in the early 1970s. Laura Garcia wrote a chapter and is available to speak through Speakers for a New America. Signed copies of the book are $30. Call 800-691-6888 or mail check c/o People’s Tribune, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654.

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