Communist Women going forward!

The 56th Congress of the Communist Party of Britain, held in November 2021, was always going to be noteworthy – not least because it was three years since the last one. 

For women in Britain, these three years have not been good.  The ruling class offensive sharpens as the economic crisis deepens.  The Women in Work Index 2021 reports that, despite some advance, it will take at least 112 years to close the average gender pay gap at current slow levels of progress.

The effects of working from home because of the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in less job security for women despite the furlough scheme.  Recent data from the scheme shows that more women’s jobs are at risk than men’s.  Unpaid care and domestic work, on the rise during the pandemic, have added to the burden carried by women. 

On top of this, all types of violence towards women, especially domestic violence, are increasing.  UN Women, the organisation delivering programmes, policies and standards that uphold women’s human rights, describes it as a shadow pandemic. 

Racism and discrimination towards Black and Asian women continues unabated and they bear disproportionately greater financial and psychological consequences from the Covid-19 crisis than their white sisters (Fawcett Society research).

These are the material realities faced by women every day.

As well as electing a significantly higher proportion of women comrades to its Executive Committee, the 56th Congress accepted there was much to do to attract and recruit women, especially Black and Asian women, into Party membership.

The crucial rôle being undertaken by women comrades campaigning in their Unions and communities for better pay, conditions and services gives opportunities for communication, interaction and solidarity, and raises the potential for recruitment

Understanding the nature of women’s oppression and recognising that the liberation of women is integral to the class struggle is key. We need to develop ourselves politically in order to contribute to building a women’s movement which will strengthen and defend women’s rights alongside the fight for socialism.

The main points of the Resolution on Women’s Rights passed by Congress to take our struggle forward are:

  • Advance the understanding that the fight for women’s liberation is integral to the class struggle by encouraging all comrades, male and female, to study the classics of Marx, Engels and Lenin on the position of women in society; feminist writers including Alexandra Kolontai, Sylvia Pankhurst, Rosa Luxembourg, Claudia Jones and Angela Davis as well as Women and Class.
  • Highlight the triple oppression of Black and Asian women in its activities and its publications on women’s struggles.
  • Promote the work of women comrades in local community organisations fighting against cuts to the services that women need and use.
  • Raise and support the demands of the National Assembly of Women’s Charter for Women within the labour movement and progressive women’s organisations.
  • Confront and combat by political argument those reactionary liberal ideas which undermine, challenge and attack advances in women’s rights.

Carol Stavris

Executive Committee member 2021