WSM International Women’s Day Message - 2018


International Working Women’s Day is steeped in the radical history of women demanding improvement in our daily lives and in our working conditions. IWWD dates back to 1857 in New York City. Women garment workers went on strike to demand a 10-hour working day, better working conditions and equal rights.  In honour of this strike, another was held  in 1908 by women needle trade workers.  They demanded voting rights and, an end to sweatshops and child labour. Two years later, the socialist, Clara Zetkin, proposed that the 8th of March be commemorated as International Working Women’s Day.  It was first celebrated nationally in the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution, a  revolution which  began with a strike  of women textile workers.

On International Women’s Day, women stand in solidarity with each other against oppression. We demand control over our lives. We demand an end to exploitation and oppression. We demand freedom.

This past year saw a whole movement erupt in relation to sexual violence, with complicated dynamics within this movement that illustrate the intersectional nature of our society. We’ve saw two marches on this island demanding abortion. We saw women on this island come together in an united front to call out the misogyny of the Irish left through telling our comrades to cop on.

The Cop on Comrades image from our share of the letter.

We watch from afar as women in Afrin risk their lives to defend themselves against the brutality of the Turkish state to protect the revolutionary changes they have made. We have seen the intensification of climate change, of which women will bear a disproportionate amount as our access to resources to cope with climate change has many obstacles in its path, especially for women in the Global South. We also lost a giant in the movement for sex workers’ rights just last month when Laura Lee passed, and send our condolences to her friends, family and comrades.

This past year we have made vocal our desires. There have been attempts to silence us, yet struggle continues. Many victories await us. We educate, we agitate, we organise.

Strike 4 Repeal shut down Dublin City Centre this day last year to demand a referendum on the 8th Amendment.

In the spirit of reflection and in bearing this in mind as we fight for a better future, we remember that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the year that some women won the right to vote. One hundred years ago, women had to fight to be granted the status of adults with the right to make their own political decisions; they broke laws, smashed windows, and took what was and is rightfully ours.

This is also the year in which Ireland will have a vote to repeal the hated 8th Amendment which bans abortion, as well as limits the choices of pregnant women and people in the maternity system.  Winning the referendum is just one step on the path to winning abortion rights. After the referendum we will need to fight for proper access to abortion, preferably with no law regulating the procedure, just as no specific laws exist on other medical procedures. But abortion rights are not enough for true reproductive justice. We must abolish the patriarchal ideology that allowed for the church and state to have a legal right to our bodies. We must abolish the system that strips women of our choices through poverty and violence. We must support women in their choice both to have and not to have children.

We fight for a world in which we can all live in control of our lives. We fight for a world in which every child can grow up to meet their full potential as creative and imaginative human beings.  We fight for a world based on care, community, friendship and love. So on this International Women’s Day we salute the Irish women from all walks of life who will be campaigning for repeal. We salute the women fighting in Afrin, who are putting their very lives on the line. We salute our Trans sisters and thank them for enriching our movement. We salute all our friends and neighbours, our sisters, aunts, daughters and mothers who in their daily lives struggle against an unfair and equal world. Here’s to the rebels, the warriors, the women who fight back everyday just through existing.