– Ma Sandar, trade union activist, Myanmar
The International League of Peoples’ Struggles Women’s Commission sends the most militant greetings to all women of the world fighting, in all ways possible, against all forms of attacks by imperialism and working to build a new, just, and democratic society.
We rise with Kyal Sin, who was brutally murdered by Myanmar military and all people of Myanmar, who are currently at the center of a fierce struggle against the fascist and patriarchal military junta that has snatched the nation’s civil democracy and has thrown the entire Burmese people into a whirlwind of destruction.
We stand with the women farmers of India against the three neoliberal farm laws of the Modi government that will further erode the already limited and dwindling support mechanisms for the country’s grain producers. These laws will leave farmers at the mercy of big agribusinesses, as corporations will be able to dictate the prices of agricultural products and control the supply and demand of produce.
We unite with Filipino women engaged in a struggle against the militaristic and macho-fascist government that has been ruling the nation and which has imposed and institutionalized a war against the people with the draconian Anti-Terror Law that tramples upon fundamental rights and freedoms.
We are in solidarity with the Palestinian and Kurdish people who continue to fight against genocidal and feminicidal attacks and incursion to their lands by Zionist Israel and the fascist Erdogan regime of Turkey respectively.
Indeed, we fight with all the women of the world reeling under the excruciating weight of the global pandemic that brought out the glaringly adverse consequences of neoliberalism on the world’s health care systems and national economies. Women are bravely fighting in the front lines despite inadequate support from their governments in the US, UK, Brazil, Indonesia, Africa and many other countries where neoliberalism wrought severe cutbacks on social services, especially healthcare and welfare support.
Nowhere in its history has neoliberalism shown its most exploitative character than during this pandemic when the profits of the world’s billionaires rose to colossal numbers while millions of the poor and hungry experienced a humanitarian crisis paralleled only by the Spanish Flu of 1918 and the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
Big pharmaceutical companies have likewise seen massive profits in the light of the global pandemic. They have raced against one another in rolling out vaccines for sale, while at the same time ignoring the need for international cooperation for sharing scientific information — a call made by Cuba but ignored by the international community – that may actually hasten the development of more effective drugs to counter the pandemic. With the help of corrupt and fascist governments in their payroll, the big pharma industry have put the entire world at their mercy.
Amidst the global health emergency, state adherence to neoliberalism have continued to prioritize infrastructure spending over public health measures, and to war spending, as in the case of the US, under Trump, and seemingly now under the new Biden administration.
Profit-hungry corporations have taken advantage of the pandemic to further exploit people and the natural wealth of the planet which is virtually nearing exhaustion. Land grabbing and conversion of fertile agricultural lands for mining, logging or agribusiness continue to cause massive dislocation of peasant families and indigenous communities, and the elimination of traditional agricultural systems and ecologically sound practices nurtured for decades by women.
Millions of workers, particularly in industries with a predominantly women workforce, lost their jobs as factories are unable to sustain production due to a huge drop in global and national demand. Yet, for those able to stay on or find new jobs are plunged in even more exploitative situation where they have to work longer hours, often for a pay lower than pre-Covid levels, and with little or no protection offered by the company.
With the ballooning of the numbers of the unemployed, the underground economy has swollen to unprecedented levels as women search for all possible means – including the flesh trade – of generating even the most minimal income to feed their families.
Lockdowns have exacerbated feudal-patriarchal relations at home and in larger society. It has put women in an even more vulnerable situation evidenced by the phenomenal rise and worsening in cases of abuse as restrictions hinder them from seeking redress, more so when the abuse is perpetrated by men in uniform or those in positions of power. The pandemic has likewise intensified the double oppression of women, where those employed in work-from-home arrangements also have to shoulder the burdens of domestic responsibility, especially childcare, that has proved particularly difficult in prolonged or repeated lockdown situations.
Racism and discrimination against migrant workers has also intensified during the pandemic. In the implementation of public health measures, migrant workers have been among those who received the least state support in their host countries. Many died without any medical aid, while domestic workers, such as those in the Middle East were herded into remote buildings at the height of the pandemic, receiving meager food.
Many national governments have taken advantage of the pandemic to push forward neoliberal policies that serve their bureaucratic interests and that of big corporations. There is a rising tide of governments as exemplified by Hungary, Indonesia, the Philippines, among other countries with rightist rulers, who use public health emergency measures to justify laws that reek of authoritarian rule.
Militarization, particularly against indigenous communities like in Brazil under the Bolsonaro government, is often implemented by states in order to crush the communities’ resistance and thereby easily clear the land and the political environment in favor of incoming corporations and other business interests.
But the pandemic is also proving to be a golden opportunity for women and people to rise and unite in asserting their economic, political, and democratic rights and ideals.
The rise of mass movements and other forms of struggle are proving to be the people’s most effective instrument against neoliberal attacks on their lives, rights and health. These actions serve as building blocks for the eventual dismantling of imperialism
There is no room for so-called reform of neoliberalism. The pandemic calls on us, the people to build a new world founded on the principles of social justice, democratic governance and equality of nations and of peoples.
On March 8, we hoist the flag of the international women’s movement as we join the calls of working women around the world for a truly people-centered approach to the global pandemic, a stop to corporate profiteering, to resist fascism and to end all forms of abuse and discrimination. Our women’s blood is red! We dare to struggle and we shall dare to win!
Long live international solidarity!
Long live the fighting women!