At this year's National Union of Students Women's Conference (15-17 March, venue tbc), Workers' Liberty member Jade Baker will be standing for NUS Women's Officer. To see her first manifesto, download the attachment below (the text of which is printed below the picture).
If you would like to support her campaign; if you have any questions; or if you want this manifesto in alternative formats - email firstname.lastname@example.org
Campaign website: jade4womensofficer.wordpress.com
JADE BAKER – socialist feminist for NUS National Women’s Officer
I’m standing for Women’s Officer as an anti-cuts activist and an unashamed revolutionary socialist feminist. I am a militant opponent of the current NUS leaders, because I want to see NUS lead the student revolt against cuts and fees, not continue to sell it out. The Women’s Campaign should be at the forefront of the fight to make that happen.
Your choice in this election
I am sabbatical VP Education at Westminster University — a post-92 uni with a mainly working-class, very diverse study body, at which political activism has revived only in the last two years. I became an activist at the end of 2009, as a co founder of Fight Cuts at Westminster and then a leader of our 2010 occupation — sixth months before the wave of struggles last winter. After that our “Fight cuts! Shake up your union!” slate swept the elections to UWSU. I am a proud supporter of the National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts.
I'm from a working-class background, the daughter of a single mother. I spent quite a bit of my childhood growing up in women’s refuges. When I talk about cuts to domestic violence provision, or the scrapping of EMA, or how hard it is for working-class kids to get to university, I am speaking in part from personal experience. I think my upbringing is why feminism was my ‘way in’ to socialism, and why for me socialism and women’s liberation are inseparable.
So — do you want another year with another Labour Student, who will talk left but continue to back up the NUS leadership and run the Women’s Campaign as a bureaucratic shell? Or a grassroots anti-cuts activist committed to socialist feminism and building a militant, campaigning student women's movement?
Rebuild the Women’s Campaign!
In the 90s, Women’s Conference was attended by hundreds of delegates. The Campaign organised mass action including marches of thousands of women for socialist feminist demands. Now it has withered and does — well, to be honest, not much. Instead of being a centre of organising and discussion for thousands of women students, the Women’s Campaign is largely an irrelevance.
In the same period, the Black Students and LGBT Campaigns have grown. What's happened to the Women’s Campaign is a result of control by Labour Students. We need to:
● Become part of the growing movement against cuts and fees, which involves tens of thousands of women students who currently know nothing about the Campaign.
● Consistently organise mass action, including an annual March for Women’s Liberation. We should be aiming for thousands on the streets.
● Launch a real, hard-hitting campaign for a women’s officer in every union, a sabbatical women’s officer in every HE union, and most importantly an active women’s group at every institution.
● Produce and campaign around a serious, radical Women’s Campaign Charter of demands — from an equal, living wage and free trade unions to abortion rights, from defending the welfare state to international solidarity.
● Reach out to young women in FE and schools who have played such an inspiring role in the recent protests — and are far more diverse than those who staff most NUS campaigns. I support the right of school students to form unions and affiliate to NUS.
Women against the cuts
It’s now common to note the cuts will hit women hardest — and that’s good. The question is how we can stop these cuts and defeat the government. We won’t do it by watering down our demands, trying to make deals with the Tories and condemning students who have the nerve to fight back.
I am proud to be a supporter of direct action, an occupier and a Millbank protester! A Women’s Campaign led by me will:
● Demand what students need, not what won’t embarrass the Labour Party leaders. We need free education and living grants for all — and women, discriminated against at work and taking longer to pay back debt, need this most of all. No to a graduate tax.
● Say no cuts! Demand an attack on the wealth of the rich and the banks to pay for education, jobs and services, and fight poverty and inequality. Link up every student women’s group with their uni anti-cuts group and local anti-cuts campaign, as well as organisations like Women Against the Cuts and Feminist Fightback.
● Fight (actually fight, not just occasionally mention) cuts to funding for domestic violence services.
● Organise to stop police violence.
● Unite with workers in struggle. Unity needs to mean more than the occasional joint press release. In the anti-cuts movement we've built grassroots solidarity between students and striking workers. We need the biggest possible student turnout on
the 26 March TUC protest — but that should be just the start.
● Fight poverty pay — for a living, equal wage. Campaigns to unionise students will only be effective if exploited young workers believe they can fight and win. Our natural allies should be low-paid women workers in struggle, not New Labour shadow ministers.
Internationalism – women’s rights are universal
Internationalism is central to my socialism and my feminism. Last year I helped organise and took part in a ten-day delegation of students and trade unionists to Palestine and Israel, visiting Palestinian resistance organisations, the Israeli anti-occupation movement and workers’, youth and women’s groups in both countries. I am very proud of this, and of the solidarity work we are following it up with. (Invite me to your campus to speak about it!) Over Christmas I helped organise the campaign to support Iranian student Habibollah Latifi, who is on death row.
We should support battles against oppression and exploitation wherever they take place, and whoever they're against. Democratic rights, including women’s rights, are universal or they are nothing. Whether our comrades and sisters are fighting oppression in the US or China, Iran or Israel, Britain or Tunisia, they deserve and demand solidarity
Fight the right-wing backlash!
There is a right-wing backlash going on in British society, and women are among its key targets — from Tory MPs saying men are now oppressed, to reactionaries of all religions infiltrating education and threatening abortion rights, to the growth of the racist, sexist far right. The economic crisis and the cuts mean this backlash will grow — unless we stop it.
● Defend and extend reproductive rights. Oppose attacks on abortion rights; fight for abortion on demand, and funding to make it equally available across the country.
● For secular, comprehensive schools. Demand decent sex education and anti-sexist, anti-racist and anti-homophobic education, linking up with teachers’ unions and school students.
● Fight racism and fascism. For mass action to drive the EDL off our streets! Solidarity with migrants’ struggles — no one is illegal, open borders and equal rights for all.
● Solidarity with sex workers’ organisations.
● Consistent opposition to all forms of oppression, including anti-semitism and Islamophobia. Not a hierarchy of oppressions, but liberation for all
An activist and socialist
I am a member of the socialist organisation Workers’ Liberty. We stand for working-class revolution to create a socialist world without class, gender, racial, national or any other oppression. For more information see our website www.workersliberty.org or email email@example.com
For more, including more policies and a supporters list: jade4womensofficer.wordpress.com
If you would like to support my campaign, have any questions, or want this manifesto in alternative formats, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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