• 8 March 2016: Women’s Participation and Gender Democracy
  • Left Politics is Feminist or it is Not Left

  • By Barbara Steiner | 08 Mar 16 | Posted under: Feminisms
  • Feminist struggles aim for liberation for all. Nonetheless women’s rights are contested and have to be defended. Also the just representation and participation of women in left organisations is far from achieved. 

    Women have been fighting for the participation to politics, for the same rights, for liberation, for economic and social equality and democracy since the 18th century.

    Rights Have Been Struggled For…

    Already the Early European bourgeois women's rights activists declared that women's rights are human rights, and analyzed that the male is the norm and the female the special. They analysed a general antifeminist sentiment in society.

    The first women's movement that begins to be formed in the middle of the 19th century was mainly fighting for the right to vote and participate to the public, universities and politics.

    The socialist women's movement fought for social rights, labour rights, decent working and living conditions also for women and children and pointed out that the reproductive unpaid labour is done by women. At the same time they had to struggle within their organizations and the labour movement for equality and participation.

    The second women's movement brought out into the open what had been taboo: the personal is also political. The separation between the two spheres made it possible to suppress women. We know now that exploitation and violence against women in the so-called “private sphere” is political. Women have been and are fighting for self-determination over their bodies, their life and their futures.

    It's an achievement of feminist struggles to point out that there are no single issue struggles. That various exploitations are intertwined and have to be addressed at the same time. Feminists want the liberation of all suppressed, they fight for democracy and social justice not only for women but for all.

    … Achieved Rights Have To Be Defended

    A society is always as strong as their weakest part. And where the weak are now, the still privileged will land at some time. So the logic consequence would be solidarity with the weaker. Nonetheless for men, also for left-wing activists, this always meant and means giving up privileges. Women take their share, take their rights, take their time.

    All the achievements of the feminist movements are still and will always be contested and therefore have to be permanently defended. Also in left-wing parties, social movements, civil society, solidarity groups.

    Women and women’s interests are still underrepresented in public society, in institutions and in political organizations.They are underrepresented, especially in higher functions, also in the left, and – in contrary to e.g. NGOs – especially in traditional left-wing organizations: in parties.

    It is up to all of us – men and women – to aim for adequate representation and empowerment of women and for gender democracy.

    There exists a structural androcentrism (the male is the „norm“) and gender blindness also within the left. To aim for gender balance on a podium and in elected bodies, to claim for feminist perspectives – on any political topic! –, the fight for representation of women, even though they might seem to be harder found, is part of an ongoing struggle.

    Many rights that have been struggled for are under constant attacks as we see it in regard to labour rights and now even basic human rights that are questioned in the asylum and migration policy crisis

    Left Politics Is Feminist

    Gender democracy and feminism are constituent for left-wing politics. For left politics, gender democracy and feminism means more than the right to participate or the right to decide, but the fight to overcome suppression, economic and social inequality – for women and for all.

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    See also the declaration by EL-FEM, 8 March 2016, entitled “Feminists and Women of Europe – Rise against Patriarchal and Capitalist Madness!


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