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Issue #1539      14 March 2012

World Federation of Trade Unions
Statement on International Women’s Day

The massive bloody strike on March 8, 1857 of the female workers in the textile industries of New York who – demanding the reduction of the work hours to 10 hours/day, equal pay for men and women and health and safety conditions in the work places – were brutally attacked by the government and the employers, motivated the 2nd International Conference of the Socialist Women in Copenhagen in 1910. It was held with the initiative of the great German communist Clara Zetkin to call for the celebration of the March 8 as International Day of Women.

This year we celebrate International Women’s Day during a deep global capitalist crisis, which has multiple facets in the financial, economic, social, labour, environmental and political level. This deepening capitalist crisis is combined with an effort of the bourgeoisie to minimise its losses by transferring the biggest burden to the working class and the popular layers.

Female unemployment has reached over 81 million women. More and more women are employed with “flexible” working relations; part-time jobs, casualisation. Today, women represent the majority of the poor and illiterate population and millions of them have no access to education, healthcare, food, clean water and other basic needs. Millions of women lack maternity protection; thousands of women die from pregnancy and lack of medical care; millions of women are forced to emigrate; millions are victims of violence, abuse, human trafficking and sexual exploitation during armed conflicts and military interventions.

Additional pressure on women comes from the reduction, elimination and privatisation of public social services. This has an impact on the quality of childcare and elderly care.

The trade unions have a responsibility and a fundamental role in developing efforts to promote gender equality in the workplace, in our own unions, in our respective countries and globally not by the equal wiping out of rights but for the full satisfaction of the contemporary needs of men and women of the working class and the popular strata.

The WFTU supports all those who struggle for: stable work for all with decent salaries, protective measures for the unemployed, social security and pensions for all, maternity and parental leave for all the mothers or the fathers with full salary and social security rights, public and free system of education and healthcare, no privatisations and monopoly activity. Public and free nurseries, creative leisure centres and children summer camps.

The WFTU reaffirms its commitment to support these struggles that will not end until the elimination of the conditions that allow poverty, inequality and exploitation of man by man in the capitalist system. We call for strengthening the fight, class unity and international solidarity. We call on all working women to be on the frontline of the class struggle. We appeal on all the class-oriented trade unions to enhance the initiatives taken by the WFTU for the formation of an International Women’s’ Committee with rich action in favour of the international working women’s rights.

The Secretariat
Athens

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