Over the last few decades we’ve seen the rise of feminism and with reliable birth control and a National Health Service with good midwives and health visitors, women started to get a better deal and control of their lives in Britain. However despite the Equal Pay Act 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 the fight for equality was far from won and women continued a sustained campaign for years for abortion rights, job opportunities,maternity rights and childcare. The introduction of the Alton Bill in the 1980’s under Margeret Thatcher’s ‘reign of terror’ caused shocking hardship yet again. Thatcher was determined to change the economic and social landscape in the interests of the Ruling Class and Capitalism by whatever means necessary.
Public spending was cut, and competitive tendering and privatisation introduced to the public sector. Inevitably unemployment rose along with child poverty, the gap between rich and poor increased and we saw riots in the streets.
Women played an important role in the fightback within the trade unions and organizations such as the National Assembly of Women. The NWA has always numbered amongst it’s ranks some formidable and inspirational women many of whom have been communists! The commitment is as stong as ever to fight for peace, equality and social justice.
New Labour continued with the rapacious ideological capitalist ideals of Thatcher, spending vast ammounts of tax-payers money on warmongering in Iraq. At the same time the banking system globally spiralled out of control, deregulated and corrupt to the core!
In 2012 it all seems very grim. Capitalsm in Crisis! The unelected Con-Dem government is moving swiftly on with a package of austerity measures designed to put us all back in slums, work-houses and virtual slavery.
This is the best opportunity the left has had for a long time to campaign and fight for socialism. Women in the trade unions in Britain are now actively seeking to emmulate Cuba’s Federation of Women. Young women are openly starting to question the unfair cuts to childcare, benefits, women’s refuges and facilities for teenagers. Mother’s are seeing their children being thrown onto a scrap-heap of unemployment. Sisters all over the country are becoming angry.
Let’s get the Women’s Charter out there onto street stalls for them to read. LET US CELEBRATE ON THE 8TH MARCH !
The slogan “Bread and Roses” originated in a poem of that name by James Oppenheim, published in The American Magazine in December 1911, which attributed it to “the women in the West.” It is commonly associated with a textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts during January-March 1912, now often known as the “Bread and Roses strike”.
As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: “Bread and roses! Bread and roses!”
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women’s children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for — but we fight for roses, too!
As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler — ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life’s glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!
A seminar and rally is taking place this Saturday in London. For details see the main Communist Party website.