Women's rights and Feminism

See also our pages on <a href="taxonomy/term/481">Marxism and women's liberation</a> and our pamphlet <a href="taxonomy/term/71">Comrades and Sisters</a>.

Black and white: French women unite and fight!

In Vitry-sur-Seine, a rundown suburb of Paris, in October 2002 a 17-year-old woman Sohane Benziane was set on fire by an 18-year-old boy. His friends were spectators.
Sohane had had the temerity to spurn his amorous advances. Sohane died in hospital from her injuries.

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Socialist Feminism Part 2

Last time we looked at what exactly socialist feminism is, but what have socialist feminists had to do with women’s struggles? During early industrialisation, women’s work was hard and ideas that women were not strong enough to carry out all roles were common. Eventually male workers claimed that competition between men and women in the work force would lead to lower wages for men; so male workers demanded women and children be pushed out of many factories, forcing women into the home. Even so, working class women remained exploited at work as well as in the home.

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Defend Amina Lawal against stoning to death!

By Faz Velmi

Amina Lawal, a Nigerian woman sentenced to death by stoning for 'adultery', must wait until June to hear her fate. Her appeal hearing against her sentence was due in late March but was adjourned when only three of the five required tribunal members were available. There are suggestions that the trial was deliberately delayed until after Nigeria's elections -recently concluded-took place.

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International Women's Day: Gagged by Gap!

by Patrick Yarker

Norwich No Sweat celebrated International Women's Day outside the city's Gap store, petitioning against sweatshop labour and for independent trade union rights for garment workers.

People were glad to hear about the campaign, and in particular its focus on building solidarity with workers around the world. Several new contacts for the campaign were made.

The action ended with a bizarre conversation inside the store between a No Sweat activist and the store-manager, who admitted that she had been told by her bosses not to answer any questions. Did she know where the item of clothing had been made? No comment. Did she know how much the workers had been paid to make it, how long they had worked or whether any of them were children? No comment. Did she know how much profit her company had made last year? Instead of a comment she pointed out a stack of postcards beside the till which direct customers to Gap's website. "Thank you for your interest in Gap Inc.'s business practices… Visit gapinc.com and click on 'Social Responsibility'… If you do not find the answers to your questions on the website, please contact us at: custservuk@gap.com or Freepost GAP."

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International Women's Day: Anti-sweatshop protests focus on Puma, Nike and Gap

Mick Duncan, Secretary of No Sweat, describes some of the No Sweat actions that took place on International Women's Day in solidarity with women sweatshop workers everywhere.

Elvis called for "a little less exploitation" outside NikeTown in central London on Saturday 8 March, the Transport and General Workers' Union blocked Regent Street with their open top bus and scared children with an evil Mickey Mouse banner. The manager of Gap hid from No Sweat protesters led by 13-year-old Jess, and we all danced badly (including Puma's security staff) to the Rhythms of Resistance samba band outside Puma on Carnaby Street.

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For women's rights against war and fundamentalism

By Gerry Byrne

One voice has been surprisingly absent or muted in the debate on the coming war. Women are probably the majority of the anti-war movement. Women and children are the main sufferers under the UN-imposed sanctions. Women and children will feature hugely among the predicted half a million direct and indirect casualties, and the millions who will be forced to flee the destruction of their homes once the bombs start to fall. US military strategists are planning on a short hard war. This is code for not counting the cost in civilian casualties. Hundreds of Cruise missiles are expected to be dropped in the first few days of the war. The lie of smart bombs and surgical strikes in the last Gulf War was revealed in all its hideousness only long after that war was over.

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international women's day: join no sweat to protest

On International Women’s Day, 8 March, No Sweat will be organising a series of protests against women’s sweatshop labour.


For London, No Sweat has produced a leaflet with a map of “Streets of Shame” on one side and a factsheet on the other.

On the map are the locations of the Disney, Gap, Nike and Puma stores around the Oxford Circus area. We will be protesting outside all these shops from 12-3, ending with a rally at Puma on Carnaby St at 3pm.

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Miss World can flee to England: millions of Nigerians can't

By Nicole Ashford

An estimated 200 people have died and tens of thousands have been left homeless in the riots sparked by the Miss World contest in Nigeria.

There is a long history of conflict between Muslims in northern Nigeria and the mainly Christian south. Islamist influence has been growing in the Muslim areas of the country, and an increasing number of states are adopting sharia law - bringing them into conflict with the national government.

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Beauty queens' boycott for Amina

You probably wouldn't expect Miss World contestants to be leading the way in fighting for women's rights. But already seven beauty queens have announced that they will boycott this year's Miss World contest, due to be held in Nigeria in November, in protest at the sentence of death by stoning handed down to single mother Amina Lawal ) under sharia law.

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Bread and Roses: Women, war and fundamentalism

by Vicki Morris

From a sense that "women" have something distinctive to say on the threatened war, and from a sense that they are not getting a chance to say it anywhere else, a number of groups recently held a women's teach-in titled "War/anti-militarism; fundamentalisms/ secularism; civil liberties/anti-terrorism legislation".

They were Act Together, Southall Black Sisters, Women Living Under Muslim Laws, Women Against Fundamentalisms, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and Women in Black.

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Bread and Roses

by Nicole Ashford

Girl Power?
Theresa May has become chairman of the Conservative Party. None of this politically-correct "chair" or "chairwoman" business for her. She's going to modernise the party. In particular, she's going to enhance its appeal to women, ethnic minorities, gay people. And so on. (As far as I can tell, the whole thing's much more about Iain Duncan Smith not wanting David Davis using the party machine as the base for his leadership bid in three years. But the spin is that the Tories are now into girl power.)

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Bread and Roses: We want it all!

The Guardian's recent series of articles on the legacy of feminism was very Guardian women's page. Sometimes irritating, middle-classey, kind-of-socialisticy, anti-globalisationy kind of fare. Nonetheless I found myself broadly in agreement with the conclusions - even with those of the dreadful (ex-SDPer) Polly Toynbee.

What is "feminism"? A short definition is - a belief in equality for women with men. But the feminist goal, as Katherine Viner analysed quite well, has come to be associated with the watered-down reformist/capitalist spin on equality, that is "equality of opportunity". Feminism is now about women having the best of capitalism - lots of consumer goods and managerial jobs. If one accepts the status quo and the myth that it is possible for most people, men and women both, to have these things, it becomes easier to talk about how feminism has achieved its goals.

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Yorkie (and everything else inlife) is for girls!

Sometimes sexist advertising really cheeses us off. Here is how one young reader,
Rebecca Barnett, broached the subject with the manufacturers of Yorkie chocolate bars.

DEAR Nestle and whomever else it might concern,
I'm writing to tell you how appalled I am with your "new" Yorkie wrapper. It is sexist and encourages a patriarchal view on things.

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Women fighting fundamentalism

It took an atrocity thousands of miles away to draw the world's attention to the plight of women under the Taliban. The most extreme anti-woman regime in the world was helped to power by US arms and training, and tolerated for 5 years. When it came into conflict with the US, suddenly its treatment of women was condemned. The danger is, with Afghanistan 'sorted', women's rights fall off the agenda, and vicious anti-women regimes, on which the Taliban modelled themselves, flourish.

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Sylvia Pankhurst and Democracy

Author: 

Susan Carlyle and Sean Matgamna

The development of industrial society threw masses of women into the factories. Whole industries, like the cotton industry, had a majority of women and children workers, existing in terrible conditions of super exploitation; as Marx put it in Capital, “Robbed of all that had previously been considered necessary for life".(1)

Communism and democracy in the work of the great feminist.

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