International Women's Day seeks to raise awareness and achieve a clear perspective on the fact that half of humanity, women, are everywhere treated as less than full human beings. It also seeks to raise awareness and have a clear perspective on the fact that it is not only necessary but possible to put an end to this disgraceful state of affairs.
Domestic violence, state repression, the kidnapping of girls, forced marriage, death by stoning, acid attacks, "honour" crimes, pornography, prostitution (including by husbands), suicide, forced wearing of the veil, genital mutilation, control over the female body, displacement due to war or for economic reasons, etc., are all part of daily reality.
It's not an invention or an exaggeration that worldwide six out of every ten women experience physical and/or sexual violence during their lives; that Latin America is considered the world's second most dangerous place for women (report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime); that during the current decade gender violence in Colombia has meant the murder of more than 1,600 people every year, and that every day at least 133 women are beaten (Informe de Medicina Legal 2015).
It's not an invention or an exaggeration that of the 825 million poorest people in the world, 700 million are women, and out of ten refugees in the world eight are women or children.
It's not an invention or an exaggeration that prostitution networks are spreading throughout the planet and women are bought and sold in both the oppressed and imperialist countries. They stretch from Asian countries where millions of females are sold and trafficked starting from very young, through the big European and North American cities where women from different parts of the world are even exhibited in store-front windows like merchandise, to the islands of the Caribbean and cities like Cartagena, built up to be paradises for "sexual tourism" where the "clients" pay pimps for virgin girls from the poorest and most oppressed sectors of society.
It's not an invention or an exaggeration that women in this world are submitted to all kinds of control of and aggression against their sexuality and reproduction. Millions of girls are forced into marriage or killed for disobeying patriarchal norms that are part of the obsolete traditions that consider women the property of men.
It's not an invention or an exaggeration that everywhere in the world women are pressured to have children as the most important part of their fulfilment and as a mechanism of subordination to men. In
It's not an invention or an exaggeration that, as incredible as it may seem, in the 21st century some people – including people in positions of power and authority – are determined to force women to give birth no matter what their situation may be, how they feel about it or what they think is best for them. These are cruel fanatics determined to deprive women of the right to abortion.
It's not an invention or an exaggeration that more than 70,000 women die every year after botched abortions because there is no right to abortion where they live, or, where it is legal, because it is restricted and hindered in an effort to eliminate that right.
It's not an invention or an exaggeration that what's going on, especially in the domain of evermore violent and brutal pornography, is that men are being excited by physical torture and the degradation of women, which is increasingly widespread and increasingly considered normal in pornography; and that as the whole culture is becoming pornified, one of the most popular kinds is rape porn, showing a woman actually being raped.
It's a fact! In the "counter-subversive" wars waged by soldiers and paramilitaries, the wars of occupation unleashed by imperialist armies, the wars waged by Islamic fundamentalists and every kind of reactionary war, women are seized as booty and property, raped and enslaved. This has been going on for centuries and is reinforced and defended by the "sacred" texts of all the world's religions.
This is a horror! From crowded cities to the most remote villages, the home to the street, school to university, the workplace to the park, on public transport, night and day, women are under the constant threat of sexual harassment and abuse. Rape is endemic, often extremely so – in
All the ways through which ideas are spread – the media, the educational system, the family, religion, art, and culture in general, reflect, defend and generalize the whole patriarchal system of the subordination of women. They mould the way people think and relate to each other, and consolidate women's role as submissive to men. A degrading culture constantly bombards us to accept this as natural.
Today the universities are mired in a paralysing relativism and innumerable rationalizations for how women are "empowered" by pornography and the sex "industry". Instead of liberation, what's offered is "empowerment" basically reduced to the idea of women increasing their value as commodities in one form or another. This has too much influence, especially among youth, but also in general.
Changes in the economy and the struggles that arose in the 1960s, especially the women's liberation movement, led to significant changes in the situation of women in many dimensions, including employment, while at the same time women are still subject to systematic discrimination in employment and more broadly. Today there is a growing feminisation of both "legal" and "illegal" immigrant labour (especially in prostitution, domestic service and other badly paid jobs that can be considered new forms of servitude).
The 1960s and '70s saw the take-off of "identity politics" – restricted and reduced aspirations – according to which each "identity group" should focus on its own particular situation and demands. Similarly, the sexual liberation that was fought for in the 1960s and '70s has become a commodification of everything associated with sexuality. Far from being liberating, this works to reinforce the notion of women as sexual objects – except that they should also "succeed" as housewives and full-time mothers.
Throughout the world in general, women are increasingly part of the work force and many other social spheres, and among the masses of women there is growing resistance to "traditional" forms of their enslavement and attacks on them. This is coming into open conflict with the necessity of the ruling classes to more aggressively reinforce this "traditional" enslavement and its accompanying "traditional morality". This is a very explosive contradiction, a potentially very powerful force for the most radical revolution in human history.
It is possible to put an end to the oppression of women and all the horrors that go with it, and it is possible to create something radically different and emancipating. That doesn't mean it's easy. To many people it might even seem impossible, but that's because of how things are today. The way things are now sets the framework for how people think. We don't perceive the possibility of radical change because of the degree to which our vision and sense of reality and possibilities are confined, conditioned and filtered by the relations of domination on which this whole system is founded, and the traditional values and ways of being and thinking constantly generated by this capitalist-imperialist system we live under and that serve to perpetuate it.
We need a revolution to liberate women not only from one of the forms of enslavement but also from the epidemic of rape and sexual violence, beatings and abuse, the trafficking of women and girls as sex slaves throughout the world, the degradation and dehumanization of pornography, and this system's many other crimes, such as hunger, the war against immigrants, the destruction of the environment, and the terrible and growing nightmare of what the imperialists are doing all over the world – their occupations, wars and torture – that feeds and reinforces Islamic fundamentalism and all reactionary and enslaving forms of oppression of women and other people.
What's necessary is revolution and nothing less, a proletarian revolution whose goal is the establishment of communism on the world level (which, contrary to what's constantly crammed into our heads, is a society where individuals can fully develop as an integral part of a collectivity without oppressive divisions of class, gender and nationality). People who hate the way the world is today need to step forward and join with others (taking up the most advanced understanding, the new synthesis of communism by Bob Avakian that has put communism on an even more scientific basis) to make this new society a reality. They need to unite and contribute to fighting this capitalist-imperialist patriarchal system, and as we fight the system and its whole ideology of domination, we must transform ourselves into emancipators of humanity.