Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter
March 5, 2016

This issue: International Women's Day

In this issue of Other Voices, we mark International Women's Day. An article written by Alexandra Kollontai in 1920 talks about the early history of this event, which grew out of a proposal put forward by Clara Zetkin at the 1910 International Conference of Working Women. A key focus at that time was winning the vote for women, with the slogan “The vote for women will unite our strength in the struggle for socialism". The link between women's rights and socialism became even clearer a few years later, in 1917, when a Women's Day march in St. Petersburg turned into a revolutionary uprising which led to the overthrow of the Czar and the Russian Revolution. As Kollontai says, "It was the working women of Petersburg who began this revolution; it was they who first decided to raise the banner of opposition to the Tsar."

The struggle continues. Kavita Krishnan writes about the campaigns for women's rights in India in "Women’s Liberation, Everyone’s Liberation." "Women in Arms" compares women's struggles in Chiapas, Mexico, and in Kurdistan. Johanna Brenner takes a global view in "Socialist Feminism in the 21st Century."

In the Organizing section of Other Voices, we look at grassroots efforts by Salvadoran women to deal with the problems of gangs and crime in El Salvador. In the People's History section, we look back at the Paris Commune, the working-class uprising which took power in Paris in March 1871.

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Topic of the Week

Working Women

Connexions features a wide selection of articles, books, and other resources on Working Women and related topics. Explore them under Working Women, Women's Issues, Women's Movement, and Women's History.

This Week on Connexions.org

Women’s Liberation, Everyone’s Liberation

Kavita Krishnan, a socialist organizer and a well-known international spokesperson for the movement against sexual violence in India, speaks on sexual violence, everyday sexism, protest, solidarity, and public space in India. Read more

Keywords: Violence Against Women - Women’s Liberation

Socialist Feminism in the 21st Century

In the 21st century, women of the working classes -- employed in the formal economy, the informal economy, working in the countryside or doing unwaged labour -- have entered the global political stage in an astonishing array of movements. Read More

Keywords: Marxism and Feminism - Socialist Feminism

Women Up in Arms

Resistance and strength manifest like weeds through cracks in Chiapas, Mexico and transnational Kurdistan where the respective Zapatista and Kurdish resistance movements are creating new gender relations as a primary part of their struggle and process for building a better world. In both places, women's participation in the armed forces has been an entry-point for a new social construction of gender relations based on equity. Read more

Keywords: Chiapas - Kurdistan

I Am a Woman and a Human: A Marxist-Feminist Critique of Intersectionality Theory

In the United States, during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, a specific set of politics among the left reigns king. Today, you could go into any university, on any number of liberal-to-left blogs or news websites, and the words “identity” and “intersectionality” will jump out you as the hegemonic theory. Read more

Keywords: Gender Issues - Identity Politics

Pakistan: The hell of sexual harassment in the workplace

In increasingly competitive Pakistani work situations, women continue to be targets for men with power. Read more

Keywords: Pakistan - Sexual Harassment

Website of the Week

Equal Times

Equal Times is a global news, opinion and campaign website about work, politics, the economy, development and the environment. Independent, with a strong focus on social justice, it aims to give a voice to those whose daily experiences and viewpoints are either under-represented or completely absent from mainstream media coverage. Equal Times also aims to build an interactive online global community for those who are committed to the defense of human and labour rights, to the fight against poverty and inequality, and for environmentally and socially sustainable development. Explore Equal Times here

Keywords: Labour Organizing - Working

Book of the Week

The Ursula Franklin Reader: Pacifism as a Map

By Ursula Franklin and Michelle Swenarchuk

Feminist, educator, Quaker, and physicist, Ursula Franklin has long been considered one of Canada’s foremost advocates and practitioners of pacifism. The Ursula Franklin Reader: Pacifism as a Map is a comprehensive collection of her work, and demonstrates subtle, yet critical, linkages across a range of subjects: the pursuit of peace and social justice, theology, feminism, environmental protection, education, government, and citizen activism. This thoughtful collection, drawn from more than four decades of research and teaching, brings readers into an intimate discussion with Franklin, and makes a passionate case for how to build a society centered around peace. Read more

Keywords: Ethics - Peacebuilding

Film of the Week

Rosa Luxemberg

Rosa Luxemburg (German: Die Geduld der Rosa Luxemburg) is a 1986 West German drama film directed by Margarethe von Trotta. The film received the 1986 German Film Award for Best Feature Film (Bester Spielfilm), and Barbara Sukowa won the Cannes Film Festival's Best Actress Award and the German Film Award for Best Actress for her performance as Rosa Luxemburg. More

Keywords: Rosa LuxemburgRevolutionary Politics


Salvadoran Women Respond to Violence with Community Service, Music, and Individual Efforts

Outside of the peace negotiations that resound in the media and governmental organizations, one of the strongest solutions to the scourge of gang violence in El Salvador has come from individual initiatives and groups dedicated to women. This work with female youth and ex-gang members, both in and outside of prison, is part of a movement that seeks to collaborate with peace processes in which women have rarely been taken into account. At the same time, it addresses the social structure that intensifies violence against women. Read more

Keywords: El SalvadorGangs

People's History

The Paris Commune

March 18, 1871 An uprising in Paris turns into revolution. France has just been defeated in a war with Prussia. In Paris, hundreds of thousands of citizens, predominantly workers, are part of the National Guard militia. National Guard units elect their own officers, and closely reflect the mood of the population, which is increasingly demanding radical changes, summed up in the slogan “a democratic and social republic.”

The French government, led by Adolphe Thiers, fears the workers of Paris more than it fears the Prussians. It sends regular troops to seize the cannons belonging to the National Guard. The citizens resist, and instead of carrying out their orders, the soldiers fraternize with the National Guard and the citizens in the street. Two army generals who order their soldiers to fire on the crowds are arrested and executed. The government flees.

The Central Committee of the National Guard is now the only effective authority in Paris. Elections are called for March 26 for a Communal Council, and on March 28 the Paris Commune is proclaimed. It is the first working-class-led revolution to hold power anywhere in the world.

In the two months of its life the Commune takes a series of radical measures, including:
- Abolition of conscription and the standing army;
- Abolition of the ‘morality police’ which polices the morals of women;- Separation of church and state and the abolition of all state payments for religious purposes;- Removal of church influence from the schools;
- Confirmation of the right of foreigners to be elected to the Commune Council because the red flag of the Commune “is the flag of the World Republic”
- Abolition of night work in the bakeries;- Closing down pawnshops;
- Cancelling interest on debts;
- Recognizing the right of workers to take over factories abandoned by their owners.

The Commune takes over the provision of public services for the whole city, as well as the defense of the city, and makes plans for a series of further reforms, including publicly funded continuing education and technical training.

The Commune terrifies both the French ruling class and the Prussian ruling class. They forget about their war, and unite to crush the Commune. The Prussians release the French troops they are holding as prisoners of war, and return them to the command of the Thiers government to use against Paris. The Commune resists heroically, but in May, after a week of fierce fighting, the Paris Commune is crushed by overwhelming military force and its defenders are massacred. An estimated 50,000 people are killed, including many who are slaughtered in mass executions after the defeat of the Commune.

Keywords: Paris Commune - Revolutionary Moments

From the Archives

International Women’s Day: A Militant Celebration

Writing in 1920, Alexandra Kollontai explains the origins of International Women’s Day. Read more

Keywords: Women’s History - Women’s Rights

Connexions Calendar

March 5 – 6, 2016
CODEPINK, along with The Nation Magazine, Institute for Policy Studies, Peace Action, and many other organizations (more here), is hosting a two-day summit examining the policies and practices of Saudi Arabia and U.S.-Saudi ties.

March 6, 2016
Octopus Book Club Celebrating Women and Literature: On every Monday this March, Octopus will introduce and discuss a book by a woman writer!

March 8, 2016
International Women's Day is celebrated in many countries around the world.

March 11, 2016
Fukushima: Global Day of Action – If nuclear energy has taught us one thing, it is that a single spark can start a fire that has generational effects. It's time we light a new fire, and create the kind of future we'd be proud for our grandchildren to inherit.

March 16, 2016
Winnipeg: Energy East Town Hall – TransCanada's Energy East project would convert an existing natural gas pipeline - parts of which are up to 40-years old - to ship 1.1 million barrels of oil every day through the Prairies to export port in New Brunswick. Join a discussion about why TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline is all risk and little reward.

March 19, 2016
Jane Goodhall: Sowing the Seeds of Hope in Victoria, BC – Jane Goodhall will also discuss the current threats facing the planet and her reasons for hope in these complex times, encouraging everyone in the audience to do their part to make a positive difference.

The Connexions Calendar is an online calendar that exists to advertise events that support social justice, democracy, human rights, ecology, and other causes. We invite you to use it to promote your events. Adding events to the Connexions Calendar is FREE. We'll give you a username and password which you use to log on. Use the contact form to arrange for a username and password. Read more →

Seeds of Fire

March 5, 1871
Birth of Rosa Luxemberg

Birth of Rosa Luxemburg, Polish-German Marxist revolutionary (1871-1919). In a time when the socialist movement was evolving in directions increasingly removed from Marx’s positions – Social Democratic reformism on the one hand, and Leninist bureaucratic centralism on the other – Luxemburg was the leading exponent of a Marxism in the spirit of Marx. Luxemburg’s politics were centered on a revolutionary perspective: she supported pressure for reforms within capitalism, but was clear that reforms cannot bring about fundamental change, that socialism can only come about through revolution.

March 6, 1925
Cape Breton Miners Strike

12,000 miners in Cape Breton go on strike. Their goal: to restore their wages to where they were in 1922, before the company, BESCO, unilaterally slashed their pay. Company police respond with a campaign of terror in the towns in the area, riding their horses into any group of people they spot, and beating up anyone they catch. BESCO, which owns the utilities and the grocery stores, cuts off electricity and water, and credit in the stores, driving people to the edge of starvation. In August, the strike ends when the company, under pressure from the provincial government, agrees to the miners’ demands.

March 7, 1965
Selma to Montgomery March

The Selma to Montgomery civil rights march is attacked by police. 525 civil rights advocates start out a 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama, to the capital of Montgomery, to campaign for voting rights for blacks. Just after crossing a bridge on the outskirts of Selma, the marchers are attacked by police wielding tear gas, nightsticks, bullwhips and rubber tubing wrapped in barbed wire. The incident leads to a massive international outpouring of support for the civil rights movement.

March 8, 1917
Outbreak of the "February" Revolution in Russia

A Women’s Day march in St. Petersburg sparks a revolution in Russia. 200,000 workers go on strike in St. Petersburg. Within days, the Czar is forced to abdicate and a Provisional Government is installed. The Provisional government shares power with the Petrograd Soviet (council), a situation of dual power that eventually culminates in the October Revolution.

March 12 – April 6, 1930
Salt Satyagraha

A Salt Satyagraha (Salt March) led by Mohandas Gandhi protests the British-imposed tax on salt in India. Gandhi and thousands of others walk 388 kilometres from Ahmedabad to the sea, where Gandhi himself makes salt from the sea in violation of the British edict. Feeling their hold in India threatened by this mass disobedience, the British imprison more than 60,000 people.

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This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.

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