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Ireland: Repeal was just the beginning – Fight back this International Women’s Day

By Keishia Taylor

A mass movement of women, workers and young people organised and won Repeal, despite the capitalist establishment parties dragging their heels. Almost two years later, women still bear the brunt of this unequal and oppressive system - we have unfinished business!

International Women’s Day, which was originated by socialist, working-class women, is an important day to mark the need for a socialist feminist mass struggle. Women are leading movements all around the world to challenge sexism, gender violence and oppression of all kinds, as well as neoliberalism and repression.

Our unfinished business

End femicide and gender violence:

  • Around 10 women a year are murdered by a man in Ireland

  • 1 in 4 women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime

  • Countless more women experience emotional abuse, economic abuse and coercive control

We need a radical transformation of the legal and health systems to provide justice, protection and care for survivors of violence and abuse, and a movement challenging misogynist and entitled ideas about controlling women.

End the housing crisis:

  • 10,000+ homeless including 4,000 children

  • Almost half of 25-29 year olds living at home

  • Predatory landlords exploiting vulnerable tenants for sex

  • A woman and her newborn baby left a Dublin hospital back into homelessness, while another homeless woman gave birth on the streets

We need a fighting housing movement for 100,000 public homes on public lands, affordable to rent or buy, and an immediate ban on evictions, rents cut to affordable levels and comprehensive tenants’ rights and protections.

Free public childcare:

Extortionate childcare costs are crippling families. We need to fight for free, quality, public childcare for all and support the childcare workers in their strikes for decent pay and conditions, as well as their trade union rights.

In the workplace:

Low-paid, precarious work and poor conditions, particularly in the hospitality, retail and caring sectors, leave women more vulnerable to harassment at work – from customers, from bosses, from colleagues. The gender pay gap is 16% and growing - women are twice as likely as men to earn minimum wage.

We need to fight for

  • €15/hr minimum wage and an end to precarious working conditions

  • No tolerance of sexual harassment at work

  • Trade unions should mobilise workers and lead these campaigns

A world to win

For women, the perfect storm of housing, low-paid and precarious work, gender violence and sexual harassment, exorbitant childcare costs and a failing health system, means we have everything to fight for.

Every year, women perform €10 trillion of unpaid labour to take care of the home and family, while states tell us they can’t afford to provide for our needs. But the money exists in the pockets of the billionaires, corporations and elites! Their obscene wealth could be used for the benefit of society, from health, education and housing, to childcare and social care, to raising the minimum wage. And we can win it through class struggle.

Build the socialist feminist movement

The recent general election represented a resounding rejection of the status quo and a demand for change. We can’t rely on any parties that accept the logic of a capitalist system that places profit above the basic needs and rights of ordinary people.

We must build a strong, fighting, working-class movement of women, young people, workers and trade unions that can force the government into action, just like Repeal, and win important gains.

But ultimately to win equality, safety and freedom, we must engage in a united struggle for the radical change we need, and to replace this profit-driven system for one where it’s wealth is publicly owned and democratically controlled by ordinary working people.

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