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8M: women on the front lines to defeat neoliberalism and authoritarianism in the world

Today there are great rebellions of women on the streets of several countries of the world against femicide, for human rights, in an intense fight against patriarchy and capitalist exploitation. We can characterize, without a doubt, that feminism today does not assume static positions. On the contrary: it organizes itself, it stands up and does not silence in the face of demands deepened by the structural contradictions that capitalism is unable of diluting. Women’s mobilizations were ultimate for the development of important historical processes that culminated in advances for the workers’ struggle, playing central roles in the Russian Revolution, for example. In this way, the women’s movement is also a vanguard of internationalism, expressing its active solidarity and mirroring the struggles of other countries. On top of that, feminism in its totality is a strategic struggle for resistance in the face of the current world situation and for the construction of an alternative at a time of interregnum. From this perspective, the crisis of the capitalist system, especially because of its repercussions on the reproduction of life, is also an engine for feminist mobilization. Women’s minds do not accept to go backwards easily – mobilizations spread internationally, so that the slowing down of the fight in some countries does not imply a global stagnation and that the local mobilization that has “cooled down” is soon lit up again by inspiration from other countries or new attacks.

As some examples of the strength of the feminist struggle in recent years, we can remember that in Spain women built a powerful strike on March 8 in 2018, demanding equal pay and against femicide. In France, Macron was put up against the wall by feminist demonstrations demanding public policies in the face of the increasing femicide rates in the country. In the USA, Trump testified the Women’s March already on the first day of government. Certainly, the strengthening of Bernie Sanders’ candidacy is also a reflection of the resistance to sexism and the neoliberal imperialist project by the current president of the country. Another field that deserves to be highlighted in this brief retrospective is the fight against climate change. It is precisely Greta who has become a symbol of the youth’s will to fight, and has a predominantly female front line in a movement that has materialized an international climate strike, summoning over 100 countries. The Argentines also organized themselves and made history with Ni Una Menos, for women’s lives, and the defense of the right to abortion – a process that encourages general wrath and helps in the erosion of neoliberalism and the following defeat of Macri in 2019. In addition to the struggles mentioned above, women have played a leading role in the mobilizations against economic attacks, in a struggle for emancipation as a whole: in Ecuador, they took to the streets against ‘Paquetazo’; in Chile’s rebellions against AFPs and police brutality. Meanwhile, a mark of this union between the general movement and the international feminist struggle was born: the performance “El Violador Eres Tú”, a strong denunciation of the rapes and, particularly, of those carried out by policemen during the repression of Chilean acts, got viral.

Continuing the retrospective, we return to Brazil. In 2015 there was one of the national highlights of this great international rebellion of women. It was stimulated by a traditional feminist discussion – the right to the morning after pill – but was also based on an offensive that defeated Eduardo Cunha, at the time president of the Chamber of Deputies, who represented a complete political misogyny, corruption and the institutional attacks against brazilian people. In 2018, women played a central role rejecting Bolsonaro in the elections with the #EleNão movement. This fight against misogyny, racism, LGBTphobia, the authoritarian project and regressions the candidate represented, was one of the main barriers to what could have been a victory in the first round. In 2019, the women’s struggle was expressed in a huge March 8 protest against Bolsonaro, and in the same year, the march of black women and the struggle of indigenous women for human rights, the defense of the climate and against the farming industry, a struggle that acquired prominence with the fires in the Amazon rainforest and the march to Brasilia that made the contradictions of the current government explicited.

After a year under Bolsonaro government, the promised attacks in the campaign are already being carried out and there is openness for further setbacks. We have suffered the defeat of the welfare reform and the promised economic growth has proved to be a fairytale – and the main victins are the poor people, women and black folks. In addition to the economic setbacks, the government is committed to strengthen the ideological dispute by appointing the Ministry of Women and Human Rights as an organic representative of the fundamentalist group. Add to this the increasingly clear involvement of Bolsonaro and his family with institutional militias – an involvement that, in turn, points to a relation between the family and the murder of Marielle Franco, especially after the death of Adriano da Nóbrega (most likely file burn). Added to this, unemployment continues with alarming rates and public security continues to be based on necropolitics: this government is driving genocide and seeking to justify the extermination of marginalized black youth with the war on drugs, expressed through more than 1000 murders by military police in Rio de Janeiro in 2019 and the murdering of 9 young people at a funk ball in the community of Paraisópolis in São Paulo. In addition, close to International Women’s Day, Bolsonaro demonstrates the misogyny of his government by making sexist attacks on journalist Patrícia Campos Mello, responsible for publishing investigations of irregular use of Whatsapp during his campaign. Among all the unacceptable contradictions, the president still dares to escalate the ideological disputes of society by calling for serious coup demonstrations against the congress and the Supreme Federal Court – another crime of responsibility.

The International Women’s Day, as characterized in its origin at the II International Conference of Socialist Women in 1910, has this year a great responsibility according to the socialist conception and from the internationalist perspective. This day of struggle must be more than a celebration or a fragmented defense of women’s rights. Looking back on this text, it is possible to see the enormous importance of women’s struggle: feminist mobilization involves the demands for building a society free from sexism, but also initiatives against the oppression of other sectors of society and the more general struggle against exploitation under the capitalist system. These movements – feminist, those fighting against other oppressions and anti-capitalist – are inseparable. Destroying figures like Trump, Macron and Bolsonaro is directly related to the advance of feminist struggles. In this way, March 8 must to work as a tool against each and every authoritarian and neoliberal ruler. In Brazil, we have the central task of defeating Bolsonaro and his attempt to close the regime, in an agenda of struggles which first day is the 8th. It is the moment to occupy the streets as the main space of demands, for more rights, in defense of women’s lives, from the slogan #EleNãoPodeContinuar for the advance of women’s struggle – and of all other sectors of society (blackness, youth, workers) – in Brazil is directly related to the defeat of this government and all that it represents.


Clara Baeder and Sara Soares are women of the MES International Commission

Translated by Caíque Belchior and Sara Soares

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