The Guardian • Issue #2045

Sydney marches for International Working Women’s Day

Sydney IWD 2023. Photo: CPA

Participants at this year’s rally came from all over to gather on the steps of Sydney’s Town Hall despite train network chaos. Women and their allies from all industries amassed, with strong contingents from the Communist Party of Australia, Nurses and Midwives Association, Maritime Union of Australia, and the Public Service Association.

Some participants came late due to train delays, but the event kicked off. The CPA contingent came bearing flags and a banner hand painted with the Mao Zedong quote “Women hold up half the sky.” Many members of the public complimented the banner with one commenting “if women didn’t hold up the sky, the whole thing would come crashing down.”

A woman with the CPA contingent said the rally carries extra significance when you discover the true story of International Women’s Day, or International Working Women’s Day as socialists prefer to call it.

“This day was created for working class women, by working class women. Women workers in the United States initiated the day, and it was soon adopted into global usage by women in the USSR and socialists abroad, in particular as a day to promote women’s suffrage as well as advocate for the overthrow of capitalism and move towards socialism,” she said.

“In our current cost-of-living crisis, we’re seeing mothers not being able to provide three square meals a day for their children. While women are facing these terrible circumstances, [NSW premier] Dominic Perrottet has rushed out a proposed program to save money for kids in the future. It rings hollow as an election gesture promising stability to be yielded in decades to come instead of today when it is needed most.

“We need radical change. We do not need concessions. Inflation is rising all while corporations are increasing the fat in their margins. It’s quite clear the capitalist system is broken.”

After an acknowledgement of country was made, the crowd filled the street and marched from Town Hall to the fountain at Hyde Park where the Sydney Trade Union Choir greeted the throng.

In the 1922 volume of the International Press Correspondence journal, German communist Clara Zetkin wrote on the resolution to celebrate Women’s Day everywhere on 8th March at the Second International Conference of Communist Women at Moscow.

“The international women correspondents of the Communist Parties of many European countries have in a general conference with the representatives of the women’s secretariat of the Third International, consulted them about the carrying through of the Women’s Day,” wrote Zetkin.

“In their decisions they were in accord with the orders of the Third International. […] The Communist Party of every country can and must devote its full strength to the success of our demonstration.

“Women will fight with honour and glory in the front ranks of the united revolutionary front. Their International Day must build a strong proletarian armed force against the counter-revolutionary intriguers of capitalist power and their political flunkeys.”

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