Minneapolis, MN - More than 50 people gathered here March 9 to celebrate International Women’s Day. The event was sponsored by Freedom Road Socialist Organization and featured women leaders from the people’s struggles.
Jess Sundin, a leader of Freedom Road Socialist Organization and one of the anti-war and international solidarity activists targeted by the FBI and grand jury repression, opened the program by recognizing women heroes of the people’s struggles. The crowd shouted out names they knew: Angela Davis, Lucy Parsons, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Rigoberta Menchu, Alexandra Kollontai, Assata Shakur, Leila Khaled, and others.
Sundin further stated, “The oppression of women is a tool that capitalism uses to exploit our class as a whole. Some of this is direct: Instead of paying childcare workers, they get women to do that work for free. Or because this is “women’s work,” wages in these fields are kept lower. Attacks on women’s rights to control our own bodies are used to divide our class against our own interests – right wing objections to contraception or abortion are used as a pretext to limit publicly funded health care for all, or turn out conservative voters at the polls. And of course, when violence against women is ignored, we can’t help but be a class divided. And political repression is an attempt to keep us from standing up together and fighting back. While the capitalists could continue to profit in a world with women’s liberation, they profit more with the oppression of women. And that is why instead of improving our lives, they’re attacking us.”
Other speakers included Jennie Eisert, of the Anti-War Committee, who urged folks to join the May protests against NATO in Chicago. Liz Dahl, an activist with Occupy Minneapolis, talked about how politicians fail to represent us. She cited a recent hearing she had attended at the State Capitol, where the committee was composed of 5 white men over age 50, and one African American woman. Ebony Harris of the Welfare Rights Committee also took aim at politicians, saying “It’s fine when white suburban women stay home and raise their kids, but when we stay home to raise our kids, we’re compared to animals.”
Cherrene Horazuk, chief steward of AFSCME 3800, talked about the origins of International Working Women’s Day in the struggles of immigrant women textile workers in New York City. Her AFSCME local is a union of 93% women, and is bracing for several legislative attacks on labor, including an effort to make Minnesota an anti-union "Right to Work" state.
The crowd cheered after spoken word performances by Misty Rowan and Angel Buechner.
Sundin’s closing remarks captured the spirit of the event, “On the occasion of International Women’s Day, let us rededicate ourselves to a life of struggle. Let us celebrate the role of women in leading our struggles, and march together towards revolution.”