International Women’s Day 2009
Support the Struggle of Women in Defense of the Rights of All!
The U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization (USMLO) sends its revolutionary salute to all the fighting women across the country and around the world — together standing to defend the rights of all. Women are at the forefront of the many battles against the brutal anti-social offensive of government at all levels. While governments continually act to pay the rich and protect a rotting and unsustainable system, women can be found defending the rights to education and healthcare, defending jobs, rejecting police brutality, opposing raids on immigrant communities, demanding an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and organizing as anti-war candidates. Their demands are those of all society and their actions show that they do not accept the worsening conditions of poverty, inequality and exploitation. They are demanding that government meet its social responsibility to fund human needs, not war and repression and will not rest until this is achieved. It is this spirit and stand that is being celebrated on International Women’s Day, 2009.
USMLO applauds all the many actions, meetings, film festivals, and more taking place across the country to salute the achievements of women in defending rights. We encourage all our supporters and readers of Voice of Revolution (VOR) to join in celebrating International Women’s Day and to embrace its spirit by joining organizing work to defend the rights of all. Help strengthen VOR's reporting and distribution. Join in work to mobilize young women for revolutionary change. Participate in discussion on building resistance by defending rights.
It is a testament to the strength of the people’s movements for change that the ruling class had a woman candidate for president and an African American. This was part of their effort to convince women and minorities that representatives of the rich can be representatives of the people. Long experience says otherwise. And the deeds of the Barack Obama administration to date, which includes Hillary Clinton and a number of other women in the cabinet, shows that the rich demand that their president be a war president and that their president act to increase the power of the president to act against the will of the people.
The Obama budget permits more than $1 trillion in war funding for 2010. He has announced the continued occupation of Iraq, more troops to Afghanistan, and sent Hillary Clinton to the Middle East to dictate who can and cannot govern in Palestine. The crimes of the U.S.-Israeli siege and invasion of Gaza that occurred before Obama came to power are not to be addressed. On the contrary, what is supposed to be “humanitarian” aid is being used as blackmail against the Palestinians. Clinton’s clear message is do as we say, or no money, no lifting of the siege.
The women in Palestine have shown that neither bombs nor the blackmail of “humanitarian” aid will stop their resistance and fight for rights, including their right to participate in deciding how Palestine will be governed. It is an example being defended and followed worldwide.
The difficulties facing Clinton and Obama reflect a stern truth: one cannot represent the rich and represent change for the people. The two interests are diametrically opposed. Representing the drive for change involves looking into the contradictions at the heart of the existing economic system and seeing what is needed to change its direction. Instead, Clinton and Obama necessarily are forced to be champions of a system that has shown itself to be unsustainable.
It is also a testament to the strength of the peoples’ drive for change that it was an African American and Puerto Rican woman who came forward as anti-war candidates for president and vice-president for the Green Party, and women who ran as independent anti-war candidates, such as Cindy Sheehan. These efforts gave expression to the necessity felt by women, especially, that winning change requires contending for political power and becoming effective in doing so. Winning change requires representing the struggle of the people to affirm their right to govern and decide such crucial matters as war and peace and having a war economy or an economy organized to guarantee the rights of the people.
The elections brought sharply to the fore the undemocratic and unrepresentative character of the existing set up. The large majority of Americans are anti-war and firm in demanding an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the anti-war candidates are the ones that are marginalized and blocked from power. It is a set up designed to keep representatives of the will of the people out of office, as part of blocking that will from being implemented.
Overcoming this marginalization and building up the struggle for empowerment of the people is front and center in the struggle for change, for women and all those fighting for rights. Integral to this is building decision-making bodies, where everyone together investigates problems, becomes informed and together decides what is needed to move forward to solve problems. The women of USMLO are engaged in this fight and will continue to organize to lead it. We urge all to join us!
Below is a small sampling of the more than 200 events across the country celebrating International Women’s Day. These events are part of more than 1000 events worldwide in more than 60 countries.
March 8, 2009, 4-7pm
Event: International Women’s Day Celebration!
About: Join us as we celebrate our solidarity with revolutionary women around the world who are fighting against the oppression of women and the emancipation of all of humanity
Organization: Collective for Equality, Justice and Empowerment: We hope to give students opportunities for leadership within the university community and the community at large
About: This event invites mothers from all across the US to stand up at the same time, with other mothers in their unique communities in a 15 minute candlelight vigil that concludes with the song ‘This Little Light of Mine’ in a collective show of compassion and solidarity for mothers everywhere.
Organization: M.U.M: Created by a mother in Ashland, Oregon with the encouragement of mom friends.
San Francisco, California
About: A movie night to celebrate International Women’s Day. This year women and men worldwide will commemorate the day by highlighting the struggle of the women of Gaza and sending an international delegation to Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid.
Grass Valley, California
About: An afternoon of Inspiration with the Theme Women Leading the Way: Generation to Generation featuring Interactive Conversations Between Generations, along with Art, Music, and Performances.
Organization: Gather The Women of Nevada County
About: Great skill-building workshops and opportunities to get information about issues facing women and families in Montana and how you can have a voice
Organization: Co-hosted by Montana Women Vote, which is committed to increasing the role of women’s participation in all aspects of our democracy
About: An interactive information fair featuring posters and booths by different women’s groups on campus and in the community, plus displays by University of Idaho international students on the lives, customs, traditions, rights, and status of women around the world.
Event: Reconnecting with the Rhythms of the Earth. Artists Reception to celebrate Women’s History Month featuring art by 12 Colorado Women on the theme of Reconnecting with Rhythms of the Earth
Organization: Women’s History Project
San Antonio, Texas
Organization: International Woman’s Day March Committee: Claiming our own voices and come together to share them in public spaces. We march in solidarity with women and social justice movements around the world.
Includes: Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, Fuerza Unida, P.E.A.C.E. Initiative, Martinez Street Women’s Center, Mujeres Unidas Contra el SIDA, Girls Inc, Rape Crisis Center, Planned Parenthood, San Antonio Free Speech Coalition, PeaceCenter, Stonewall Democrats, the Bexar County Green Party, UTSA Women’s Studies Program, SALIR, y MASSO.
March 8, 2009
Organization: Birmingham International Center/
About: Experience artistic interpretations of the strength, inner beauty and courageousness of women around the globe. Enjoy a reception, auction and live entertainment by Helen Hailes.
Organization: UNIFEM: Committed to working toward a world where women live free from poverty, violence and inequality
Ithaca, New York
About: Events include panels, lectures, receptions, exhibitions, performances, movies, field trips, charity events and workshops to educate, celebrate, and advocate with Cornell International Women’s Day 2009.
Organization: Cornell University International Women’s Committee: The committee is comprised of students, faculty and community members. Co sponsors include 20 student groups, community organizations, alumni associations, and academic departments.
(for additional listings see: internationalwomensday.com)
Actions marking the Global Women’s Strike are taking place in 60 countries worldwide, in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and elsewhere, as part of International Women’s Day activities. Below is the report on actions planned in Philadelphia.
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In Philadelphia mothers and supporters will protest at the Department of Human Services (DHS) under the banner, “Children Are for Loving, Not for Profit.” The demonstration will be followed by a teach-in and reception. Hear directly from mothers fighting to get their kids out of foster care, from children in foster care, and from supporters — including family members, community activists, former social workers and others.
• Profiteering off the lives of children, including those unjustly taken from their families and kept in foster care. Foster kids suffer post-traumatic stress disorder at twice the rate of combats veterans.
• Poverty – welfare “reform” has forced women into low-waged jobs and homelessness. Rather than offering housing, childcare and other resources, DHS punishes families by equating poverty with neglect and removing kids, while children in real danger often are not protected.
• Racism – Black children and other children of color are much more likely to be taken DHS and kept in foster care.
• Sexism – mothers and other caregivers are treated with contempt, as though the work of raising children is worth nothing.
• Corruption – Two judges in Luzerne County are currently in jail after taking $2.5 million in kickbacks from privately owned prisons for sending thousands of children there for petty crimes. In Philadelphia courts, juvenile detention centers compete for children (and dollars). Private agencies receive millions for keeping children in foster care; DHS spends $34,000 per child each year.
Across the U.S., women are unjustly losing custody of their children to child protective services. Department of Human Services, Philadelphia, and those of other cities, remove kids, particularly from single mothers of color, younger, older, and alternative families, instead of helping families in poverty with housing, childcare, legal needs or counseling. Most children are far better off and safer at home than in foster care. Once in the system, it is a lengthy and sometimes impossible job to get children back. At the same time, youth in real danger often do not get the protection they desperately need — official neglect in both directions. DHS and the agencies that it contracts with have financial incentives to keep kids in care: $900 million to divide, not reunite families. DHS – Give Us Back Our Children fights individual cases, builds public awareness and challenges the whole system.
• Fact – For every 1000 impoverished children: Chicago removes 6 children from their homes, New York removes 11, and Los Angeles removes 14, and Philadelphia removes 40! (National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, NCCPR)
• Fact – Black children are more likely to be taken from their homes, to stay in protective custody longer and even be put up for adoption against the parents’ will. (Cincinnati Post)
• Fact – A Children’s Hospital (Philadelphia) study found that toddlers with similar injuries are 3 times more likely to be reported to DHS if the family is African-American or Latino. (Children’s Hospital press release)
• Fact – 30 percent of foster children could be home right now if their parents had decent housing (NCCPR)
• End discrimination on the basis of race, gender, poverty, age, disability, immigration status, cultural difference, sexual preference or any other – caring work by mothers of all races must be acknowledged.
• Resources for mothers including financial support, housing, childcare day or night, family-centered drug treatment, legal and other help to keep families together. Poverty does not equal neglect!
• DHS to prioritize – in practice – the protection and reunification of families, recognizing that children are overwhelmingly safer and better-off in their own home except under extreme circumstances.
• End financial incentives for DHS and provider agencies that keep children in foster care; publicly accountable use of funds, and funding of real services that families need.
• Access to good and accountable free legal representation
• Mothers and families to be treated with respect, not threats, harassment and arrogance, and have the right to support of family and community members in all dealings with DHS and Family Court
• Mothers must not be forced to choose between homelessness and staying with an abusive partner — either way they risk losing custody and the child is hurt. When childcare arrangements fall through or when children are sick, mothers must not be forced to choose between staying home for their children and getting fired, or leaving their children alone or with inadequate care
Demonstration and Teach-In Sponsored by: DHS – Give Us Back Our Children, a multi-racial self-help support & action group of mothers, other family members & supporters working to re-unite families by getting children out of foster care; and Global Women’s Strike whose theme is “invest in caring not killing,” and others.
Information: Crossroads Women’s Center, 215-848-1120; firstname.lastname@example.org and www.globalwomenstrike.net
The number of women and girls in the U.S. as of October 1, 2008 was 154.7 million. The number of males was 150.6 million.
In 2007, large numbers of women and men were forced to work for poverty-level wages. For women, 31.4 percent earned poverty-level wages or less, for men 21.8 percent. This is an increase from 2005, when 29.4 percent of women earned such wages.
In 2007, the ratio of earnings of women who worked full time, year-round was 78 percent of that for corresponding men. The real median earnings of men who worked full time, year-round climbed slightly between 2006 and 2007, from $43,460 to $45,113. For women, the corresponding increase was from $33,437 to $35,102.
For 2007, it is estimated that full-time working women earned about 78 cents for every dollar men did. For women of color, the gap is even worse – only 71 cents for African American women and 58 cents for Latinas. In 1963, the year of the Equal Pay Act's passage, full-time working women were paid 59 cents on average to the dollar received by men. In other words, for the last 42 years, the wage gap has narrowed by less than half of a penny per year and still remains unequal.
Women had lower median earnings than men for each of the 50 states. No state had median earnings for full-time year-round women workers that were above $50,000. Only the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut had median earnings for such women above $40,000. The rest were below that amount. For men, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Alaska had median earnings above $50,000 (figures according to the American Community Survey, ASC).
Fifty-five percent of all women work in female-dominated jobs (jobs in which women comprise 70 percent or more of the workforce) whereas only 8.5 percent of all men work in these occupations. However, the men working in female-dominated jobs still receive about 20 percent more than women who work in female-dominated jobs.
If women received the same wages as men who work the same number of hours, have the same education and union status, are the same age, and live in the same region of the country, then these women's annual income would rise by $4,000 and poverty rates would be cut in half. Working families would gain an $200 billion in family income annually.
Eight in ten custodial parents are women, and custodial mothers are twice as likely to be poor as custodial fathers. Of all family groups, poverty is highest among those headed by single women. In 2007, 28.3 percent of all female-headed families (4.1 million families) were poor, compared to 4.9 percent of married-couple families (2.8 million families).
A 2007 study showed that 13.8 percent of women and girls were poor compared to 11.1 percent of men. Thirteen percent of women over 75 years old were poor compared to 6 percent of men. About 26.5 percent of African American women are poor, 23.6 percent of Hispanic women and 10.7 percent of Asian women. More recent data shows increases in poverty.
A study from 2003–04, showed that more than 17 percent of women were not fully food secure, and national minorities faced far greater hardship. Hispanic women, 60.5 percent, were most likely to face food insecurity. African American and Hispanic women had similarly high rates of going hungry (11.8 and 11.3 percent). More recent information shows that there have been great increases in use of food stamps and food pantries, with women and children making up the majority of those in need.
More than 17 million women have no health insurance. This number has grown by 1.2 million since 2004, with half of the growth among low-income women. Women who are younger and low-income are particularly at risk for being uninsured, as are women of color, especially Latinas. Women are more vulnerable to losing their insurance, should they become divorced or widowed, because they are more likely than men to be covered as dependents. Women are also at greater risk of losing coverage if their spouse loses his job or his employer drops family coverage or increases premium and out-of-pocket costs to unaffordable levels.
The inequality in insurance and provision of healthcare increases risks for women. Women with diabetes have more than double the risk of heart attack than non- diabetic women. Diabetes doubles the risk of a second heart attack in women but not in men. Diabetes affects many more women than men after the age of 45.
About 42 percent of women who have heart attacks die within 1 year, compared to 24 percent of men.
Facing a culture that not only physically brutalizes women but also encourages young girls to be very thin, an estimated 85-95 percent of people with the eating disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia are females. About 5-10 million women and girls suffer from anorexia and/or bulimia, in the United States alone.
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which includes crimes that were not reported to the police, 232,960 women in the U.S. were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006. That is more than 600 women every day. Other estimates, such as those generated by the FBI, are much lower because they rely on data from law enforcement agencies. A significant number of crimes are never even reported for reasons that include the victim's feeling that nothing can/will be done and the personal nature of the incident.
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year. Less than 20 percent of battered women sought medical treatment following an injury. Approximately 18 percent of women aged 18-24 report having experienced forced sexual intercourse at least once in their lives.
A study in 2005 revealed that 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner, accounting for about one third of murders of women. That is an average of three women every day.
There are 148,200 women in state and federal prisons. Nationally, there are now more than eight times as many women incarcerated in state and federal prisons and local jails as there were in 1980, increasing in number from 12,300 in 1980 to 182,271 by 2002 to more than 148,000 today.
In federal women’s correctional facilities, 70 percent of guards are male. Records show correctional officials have subjected female inmates to rape, other sexual assault, sexual extortion, and groping during body searches. Male correctional officials watch women undressing, in the shower or the toilet. Male correctional officials retaliate, often brutally, against female inmates who complain about sexual assault and harassment.
Women make up less than 17 percent of the members of the U.S. Congress. The U.S. currently ranks 68th of 134 nations worldwide in the number of women in office at the federal level. For the House, 16.8 percent are women and for the Senate, 16 percent are women.
Of the 90 women serving in the 111th US Congress, 20, or 22.2 percent, are women of color. In addition, an African American woman and a Caribbean American woman serve as Delegates to the House from Washington, DC and the Virgin Islands, respectively.
In 2009, 1,791, or 24.3 percent of the 7,382 state legislators in the United States are women.