August 26, 2008
Happy Women's Rights Day from Radical Women!
Greetings on the occasion of Women's Rights Day, the anniversary of the signing into U.S. law of voting rights for women on August 26, 1920.
We honor the courageous women who fought for this hard-won measure. They were not handed the ballot; they demanded it and took it. They traveled the country organizing public support, appeared before Congress and state legislatures, invaded polling places, were arrested and jailed, chained themselves to the gates of public buildings, held hunger strikes, and suffered forced feeding. They endured slander, insults, catcalls and other attacks on their freedom of speech as they took their message everywhere: women must be free and granted their full rights as citizens. These foremothers deserve our thanks for their valiant efforts.
But the struggle is far from over. Voting rights are still a fiction for many people of color. Living standards and job opportunities are plummeting. Women still lack economic parity with men, universal healthcare and childcare, safe and well-paying jobs, affordable housing, quality education - all the things that make life livable and sweet.
And the battle to control our bodies has never ended. The most recent outrage is the Bush administration's proposed regulation to bar federal funding from healthcare entities - insurance health plans, pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, training facilities - that won't allow employees to "opt-out" of delivering abortion services, information, products, or even referrals. Any medical practice that refuses to sign onto this regulation will lose federal subsidies. (Email your protests to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt at firstname.lastname@example.org ). This rule is an astonishingly far-reaching attack on a woman's constitutional right to make her own reproductive decisions. It must be defeated.
Misogyny, hunger, bigotry, war and violence still stalk the world. These evils will not be eliminated as long as we live under a system that imposes discrimination and poverty on the many in order to generate wealth for an elite few. That system, the capitalist system, will remain in place as long as the twin parties of business, the Democrats and Republicans, control Congress, the White House, the legislatures, Governors' mansions, and city councils. Working women and men need to break out of the two-party quagmire and change the status quo. Voting for anti-capitalist and socialist candidates is one very important way to use our hard-won and valuable voting rights.
But we also need much more than protest votes. Women, especially women of color, are drivers in crucial organizing taking place in the antiwar, racial equality, immigrant, labor, welfare rights, student and queer movements. Radical Women foresees a vast new upsurge to replace capitalism with the shared abundance and liberated human relationships of socialism. To that end, we are holding a national conference in San Francisco from October 3 through 6 to discuss "The Persistent Power of Socialist Feminism." The gathering will develop an action plan to mobilize a radical, multi-issue feminist movement. Activists and scholars from China, Australia, Central America and the U.S. - including courageous civil liberties attorney Lynne Stewart - will be in attendance to offer their insights and wisdom. Plan to attend and add your thoughts and experiences to the mix. Check out our website - http://www.radicalwomen.org/2008_conference.htm - for more information, or phone 206-722-6057.
Now is the time to come together to set a bold new course for the feminist movement!
Radical Women, U.S. Section