The Guardian • Issue #2092

International Women’s Day 2024

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2092
IWD Perth.

IWD Perth.

IWD walk for peace – Perth

This year on 8 March around 300 women in Perth walked through Perth CBD for the first IWD Peace Walk. This is the first International Women’s Day march to take place in Perth since 2010 when a march was organised to mark the 100-year anniversary of the proposal from Clara Zetkin, the leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany who tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen; the proposal received unanimous support from over one hundred women representing 17 countries.

This year in Perth a collective of women came together to organise a Peace walk to demand an end to violence in all its forms, from our homes to the global community.

The walk, MCed by Elly (CPA) and Janet (SA) was marked by songs and silence with a number of stops along the way to hear from powerful speakers and poets from Palestine, Afghanistan and Sudan, as well as human rights activists and unionists.

The Peace Walk started with a smoking ceremony and acknowledgement of country followed by interventions from prominent Aboriginal activist Megan Krakour and a spontaneous contribution from a young Aboriginal woman from the crowd who received much support when she shared her experience of the justice system and how she is rebuilding her confidence.

The walk acknowledged the violent onslaught taking place in Gaza with Palestinian women leading with the main banner.

Ending at the Perth Cultural centre on the other side of the CBD, the crowd was addressed  activist, Joy, who introduced the One Billion Rising campaign. The Filipino women from Gabriella then led marchers in the ‘break the chains’ dance which is performed around the world between Valentines Day and IWD as part of the anti-imperialist One Billion Rising movement against all forms of violence including state violence.

Historically women have proven they can be a force for change. Walking in solidarity we called for change; Treaty and Truth-Telling to begin the process of healing the scars of our colonial past, an end to arms shipments to Israel, an enduring ceasefire, and an end to the occupation, a more generous refugee policy to support those fleeing war and violence. The walk challenged colonialism, war and governance in the pursuit of profit over people. We walked for money for child care, health and disability care, public housing, education and training – not nuclear-powered submarines and militarisation. Recognising our collective voice is powerful.

One Billion Rising can be found at

IWD march and event – Melbourne

In Melbourne, as well as the traditional IWD march,  comrades attended the Greek Democritus Workers League IWD event. Greek songs were performed, and passionately sung along to, and a speakers recounted stories of the struggles of the first generation of Greek women in this country, with stories of women giving birth on their way to work, not understanding the English used in the hospital, as well as the solidarity of organising community events together.

CPA, South Australia Branch, IWD education session

Notes from a session facilitated by Comrade Bev Hall.

Women hold up half the sky: This year’s theme for International women’s day is ‘Count Her In.’ In 2021, it was 110 years of International Women’s day. A day proposed by Clara Zetkin at the second International Conference of Socialist Women in Copenhagen in honour of the garment workers in New York who were demonstrating for better wages and conditions. Clara Zetkin was a member of the Communist Party in Germany from 1920 to 1933. She was a close confidante to Lenin and assisted with his writings on women. This brought about the first decree of the Socialist Government in USSR, the code on Marriage and Family in October 1918. This was the most progressive in the world giving women the right to freely divorce without consent, to have abortion without the consent of a father and conduct a personal life without the tutelage of the church or family. The Soviet Union was the second place in the world to give women the right to vote.

International Women’s Day from 1920 became a day of Peace and Solidarity with women of all countries suffering injustice, oppression, misery and effects of war at the time. Women have a history of struggling for their rights and equality and the desires for a happy future for their children.

Lenin’s thoughts from Conversations with Clara Zetkin pointed out, “Our idealogical conceptions give rise to principles of organisation … . A woman communist is a member of the Party just as a man communist, with equal rights and duties.” However, “we must not close our eyes to the fact that the Party must have bodies, working groups, commissions, committees, bureaus” and collectives “to arouse the masses of women workers” and women’s groups in general. This involves “systematic work” and involvement at the grass roots level which is not feminism but “practical revolutionary expediency.” “Unless millions of women are with us we cannot exercise the proletarian dictatorship.” Lenin felt the working class would not become spontaneously political just by fighting the economic battles over wages and working hours.

Marx saw unpaid women’s work as an integral part of capitalism. He saw the nuclear family as an imbalanced structure that teaches its members to accept imbalances of power in wider society. He believed that family was not women’s natural sphere but rather the source of women’s oppression. Marx and Engels interacted with female activists involved in struggles from the time of the Paris Commune. Women influenced the development of Marxism just as Marxism influenced the dedicated socialist women. The degree of emancipation of women is the national measure of general emancipation.

Lenin spoke of the importance of relieving women from housework so they could participate more fully in society and an effort to pay workers for household chores began  – equal pay for equal work. He also pointed out that no revolution is possible without the participation of women. He encouraged men to support women’s participation in politics.  Lenin believed it was a most important duty to enlighten proletarian women on sexual problems, forms of marriage past, present and future and to take note of working women’s needs. He saw the “disease of Modernity” as promoting bourgeois conceptions of morality, and the need to awaken the social life and activity of women.

Marxism is a philosophy which is ‘anti-sexist, anti-racist, and against all forms of oppression and exploitation. It aims for not only economic restructuring but the development of a class-less mode of production and a new humanity in all its forms. These changes dialectically “must come simultaneously from changing relations of production, changes in material conditions of families and the development of values and ideologies related to freedom and equality.” (“Women and Revolution: Marx and the Dialectic,” (Lilia Monzo) Knowledge Cultures)

Monzo says we need “a mass movement of working class women under communist leadership … the development and management of such a movement is an important part of the entire Party activity.” Even in communist and socialist parties and the trade unions men can see women as a side issue. There is a need to recognise, encourage and support women into leadership roles. There is a need to listen with real interest not to think “well we have listened now move onto the real issues.”

Monzo adds that rooting out the “master idea” is vital, concluding that “through this … women will come to understand what the proletarian dictatorship means for them with complete equality with men in law and practice in the family [and] in the state” of the capitalist class.

We need to study history to know what to build on, not reinvent the wheel. Marxism is a philosophy. Communism is a system of government based on the above principles. Women cannot be left behind but should be respected, and equal.

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