East London International Women’s Day meeting.

‘Insightful and inspiring’

by Mihaela Ivanova, Tower Hamlets Socialist Party

People came together for the East London Socialist Party district public meeting on ‘How we fight the backlash against women’s rights, put an end to sexism, misogyny and oppression’.

It was inspiring to have the discussion with over 50 attendees, the big majority women. Around 20 people were new to the Socialist Party and found out about the meeting through the hard work our members put in to promote it. To engage as many people as we did, we spoke to contacts, trade unionists on picket lines, people on campaign stalls, paper sales, young members spread the word to university friends, and we put posters up in the surrounding area. It was a successful turnout and a productive discussion.

East London Women's Day SP meeting.
A small section of the East London public meeting.
Photo: James Ivens

Women shared personal experiences of the struggles they have faced in lieu of desperately needed funding. People described cuts in domestic violence services, street lighting, council housing, childcare and maternity services, and community facilities such as the recent attack on the Boundary Estate Community Laundrette by Tower Hamlets council.

It was insightful to hear firsthand from so many young women about their experiences. For example, two Queen Mary students spoke about the past and present failings of the university and its lack of sexual harassment reporting procedures. A new Socialist Party member also spoke about her positive experiences as a woman in the party, why being a feminist is concurrent with being a socialist, and what steps we can take to build a better and equal world.

Working-class women

It was made clear that, as women have been brought into every sphere of public life, the private work of working-class women, such as housework and childcare, is expected at the same standard while being active members of the workforce and, more often than not, affected by the gender pay gap and other unique forms of systemic oppression and inequality.

We discussed the absolute necessity of reclaiming International Women’s Day as a day of protest and of continuing the struggle against the backlash on women’s rights.

As the war on Gaza escalates, women are suffering unimaginable horrors, little-to-no medical care during childbirth, and a 300% increase in miscarriages. We must build as part of the anti-war movement, the struggle to end the system that profits and feeds off of the exploitation and oppression of working-class women and people alike.

The same is needed to end other forms of oppression. For example, LGBTQ+ people have seen Pride protests watered down, as rights that have been won are challenged by the Tories’ fearmongering about Trans people, and the lack of an alternative from Keir Starmer.

Socialist programme

Capitalism thrives on this division, and women’s oppression is just one part of the system of exploitation. Gender oppression can only be eliminated by transforming the way society is structured, organised and run. That’s why the Socialist Party puts forward a socialist programme based on the working class taking the wealth and power out of the hands of the capitalists.

The discussion concluded that we cannot rely on Starmer’s pro-capitalist Labour Party to defend women’s rights. For humanity to liberate itself from oppression, poverty and exploitation we must take the power into our control. We must build a political voice for all those struggling against oppression under a mass workers’ party which works in the interests of the many, not the few.

After the meeting, we spoke to contacts who were impressed with how young and determined our party is. We also had attendees interested in our material such as our monthly magazine Socialism Today, and some new attendees eager to get involved in organising with our local branches and learning more about what we have to say!

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