100 years later, women all over the world still use International Women’s day to press for their demands. Although some demands, like the right to vote have been achieved, particularly in Western countries, women worldwide still face inequality and discrimination.
Women perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of food, but earn 10% of all income and own just 1% of the property/land.
Even in countries like Britain and Ireland, which have equal pay laws, women’s wages are still significantly lower than those of their male colleagues. The settlement of an equal pay claim for low paid female civil service workers in Northern Ireland was therefore an important step towards eradicating this inequality.
Not only do women bear a disproportionate burden of the world’s poverty – women have for a long time accounted for 70% of the world’s poor. Due to capitalist globalisation the gap has widened, with women losing more than their share of jobs, benefits and labour rights. The global economic crisis is expected to plunge a further 22 million women into unemployment. These further deteriorating living conditions have forced women to move into struggle.
In Iran for example, women’s rights have been systematically rolled back since Ahmadinejad came to power. Women’s mass refusal to follow strict Islamic dressing code meant 150,000 of them were arrested in 2007. For years, women have been campaigning for women’s rights, but the repression by the state is on the rise. In the past year, we’ve seen an increase in women facing execution and stoning.
Despite the violent crackdown by the state, women have been at the fore of uprisings against the Iranian government. Thousands of women continue to risk their lives by taking to the streets as part of wider movement against the regime.
Iranian women, together with thousands of other women involved in struggle for the first time are learning that for women to live life free from poverty and oppression of any kind, it is necessary to overthrow the profit ridden, capitalist system. This can only be achieved by a mass movement of the working class. Working class women will be vital in this struggle.