The International Women’s Alliance raises the highest regards for workers on this International Workers Day, 2023. Many of IWA’s members come from the most exploited working classes of countries all over the world. Our members are on the front lines of the current economic crisis as inflation, inter-imperialist conflict, and exploitation are on the rise. Today we honor the tireless work that the working class gives to the struggle for justice, and the forward progression of Society.
To kick off women’s month, the International Women’s Alliance together with International People’s Front and all defenders of women’s rights led a Global Week of Action from March 4-11 in commemoration of International Working Women’s Day. Women in Europe, Asia Pacific, Canada and the U.S. held various protest actions, women’s strikes, panel discussions, and joined anti-war mobilizations to demand an end to the exploitation and oppression of women.
In the US, IWA held its first ever US wide political conference on March 5, coming on the heels of GABRIELA USA’s 4th National Assembly. The conference brought together over 150 women, students, workers, union members and human rights defenders to learn more about the dire conditions of working women in the face of intensified crisis in the U.S. and around the world. Women representing the most marginalized and oppressed shared their experiences in the workplaces, exposing corporate conglomerates like Amazon and Starbucks and their ruthless attempts to deter workers from unionizing and demanding for safe working conditions.
Tina Brown appealed to the conference attendees to support her in seeking justice for her late sister, Poushawn Brown. Poushawn was an Amazon worker who died in her sleep in January 2021 after being assigned to work at an Amazon Covid testing facility in September 2020 without proper PPE. While Amazon is one of the richest companies in the world, they refused to take responsibility for her death or even offer any bereavement compensation. Her family has been unable to afford an autopsy to determine the cause of her death. IWA and the conference attendees united to carry out the campaign to hold Amazon accountable for the sheer neglect of their workers and to DEMAND Justice for Poushawn Brown.
It is because of stories like Brown’s that galvanized participants of the conference to unite and carry out a national campaign and build momentum towards building a strong anti-imperialist movement of working women in the U.S. The anti-imperialist, anti-fascist united front globally depends on women in the imperialist core to wage campaigns together to bridge solidarity and contribute to the global movement for the emancipation of women, national liberation, and self-determination! In light of this IWA in the U.S. will carry the campaign call to “Meet Women’s Needs; Stop Corporate Greed!”
Around the world workers have risen up to demand higher wages, and to protest the increasing trend of privatization and limited social services. As inflation globally increases, it is the workers first and foremost who have carried the burden of being expected to produce more while wages have not increased. Already in 2023 we have seen protests of workers break out all around the world - from the protests against the increased pension age in France, to garment workers all across SE Asia increasingly demanding back pay from pandemic closures and starting unions which truly represent their interests. In the United States and Canada we have seen large workers strikes disrupt the day-to-day functioning of society - showing the important role workers play to keep society going.
At the same time, wars of aggression continue to deepen the economic crisis in many countries across the world such as Ukraine, Palestine, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Indian-occupied Kashmir, to name a few. Women have been deeply impacted by surging food, fuel, and fertilizer prices—most recently driven up by Russia’s war in Ukraine—which are worsening food insecurity. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in 2021, 31.9 percent of women faced moderate or severe food insecurity compared to 27.6 percent of men. The disparity—4 percentage points—is expected to be even larger in 2022 due to inflation. Women tend to spend a larger share of their incomes on food than men, with even greater disparities shown across the Global South, meaning that inflation cuts deeply into their disposable income or ability to save.
State forces increasingly deprioritize people’s needs in favor of staying competitive in the global war-driven economy. For example, the Philippines has experienced the highest recorded inflation since 2018, driving up the cost of goods like fuel due to supply disruptions caused by the escalating tensions between Russia and China. This has disrupted transportation for workers to be able to get to and from their workplaces. Instead of addressing the needs of the people, the Philippine government under the US backed Marcos Regime is in talks with the Biden administration to solidify U.S. ties to the Philippines amidst growing concerns about China’s encroachment over Philippine territory. White House talks begin on May Day after completing several weeks of the largest military war drills in the Philippines. We know these talks only mean more subservience to U.S. imperialist interests, while the Filipino continue to suffer amidst the worsening economic crisis.
In the last several decades we are seeing corporations turn more and more to neoliberal schemes in attempts to squeeze more and more profits out of the working class. This year the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is pushing forward the US’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). This new trade framework seeks to bind 40% of the world’s GDP in a trade agreement that will wreak havoc on the working class, and national sovereignty. IPEF was announced by the US in 2022 - and is largely understood to be a direct response to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that has been ratified by China and 14 other countries.
While both agreements market themselves as supportive to the working class, it is clear–after numerous other free trade agreements–that these are nothing more than schemes for powerful countries and corporations to claim economic control of profitable raw materials, cheap labor, and fertile land. Under free trade agreements, worker’s rights are tossed aside in favor of policies and practices meant to increase profits and exports. Free Trade Agreements have increased the exploitation of women, the forced separation of families and violence against women. The working class - including working women - must vehemently reject these free trade agreements and take all possible opportunities to expose their true intentions.
People’s rights are not guaranteed under the dominant global system, and women from working classes have shown that these can only be claimed by exercising people’s sovereignty through organized collective actions. It often means standing up against corporations, elite-led states and confronting state violence. The International Women’s Alliance salutes the working class for its tireless contributions to society - and its relentless struggle against exploitation, imperialist war, and violence against women. We call on all our members to support the worker’s struggle, to reject neoliberal false solutions, and to continue to fight for a world free of exploitation and corporate domination.