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Contribution of Communist Revolutionary Party of France

Feb 26, 2024

During his two terms in office, Emmanuel Macron promised to make the end of violence against women one of his priorities. Now, almost 7 years after his first election, the results are alarming: statistics and testimonies show that violence against women is constantly on the rise, from sexist remarks to rape as well as sexual assault and harassment.

Given this situation, some feminist collectives and associations are still calling for "1 billion euros" entirely dedicated to fighting violence against women. Macron and his ministers obviously refuse to accept this billion, even as they continue to pay tens of billions of euros to their army and to private companies.

That said, let's not delude ourselves: violence against women is a structural problem that cannot be solved by a billion dollars from a capitalist state, since this state itself, by the way it operates, generates the multiplication of situations of violence within the population.

The issue of violence against women also encompasses the broader question of the  economic violence suffered by women, which is even greater than that already suffered by men: the gendered division of labor leading to women being given priority for domestic work, returning to the "double day of work" denounced by Marx and Engels; wage inequalities and curbed careers; persistent discrimination against women seeking work...

Historically, and still today, women workers have been a free resource for employers to reproduce the working class, as well as cheap labor for low-level tasks, particularly in the medical and social sectors, since they are linked to domestic work.

These systemic oppressions of working women, of which gender-based and sexual violence is one expression, keep women in this situation of over-exploitation, from which the capitalist class benefits fully.

Of course, we must not deny the advances made possible by the struggles of working women since the 19th century, notably the recognition of certain rights linked to the family, the opening up of many areas of work and study to women, the reduction of the wage gap between women and men, and more recently, the liberation of speech denouncing gender-based and sexual violence.

But an improvement does not mean a cure: working women continue to be among the first victims of capitalism's crises, and they see their situation deteriorate in these periods.

Today's situation bears witness to this: it is precisely in the current period of global economic crisis, when inflation, job insecurity and poverty are exploding, and when the bourgeoisie is on the offensive to extract ever greater profits by reinforcing the exploitation of workers, that we see the deterioration in the situation of women in France and around the world: gender-based and sexual violence is on the rise, but so is precariousness and poverty, which women suffer even more than men.

As a result, many mothers find themselves forced to be the parent who devotes all or part of their lives to domestic work, since the father generally has a higher wage and a more stable job than the mother, and the infrastructures needed to take on this domestic work, such as crèches, are lacking or no longer exist.

70% of domestic tasks are carried out by women and 80% of women have experienced sexism at work.

In France, women are paid 25% less than men and are subject to glass walls and glass ceilings. They also have pensions 40% lower and 30% are stuck in part-time work.

On a social scale, we cannot limit our action, as certain feminist movements too often do, to denounce inequalities between men and women without denouncing the capitalist law of maximum profit necessary for its development, from which all workers suffer the consequences, harmful effects, and more particularly women. Women are not “exploited from 3:40 p.m.” as the unions claim, but from 11:15 a.m.: each employee in France is paid their salary after 2.5 hours of work on average, 2.15 hours for women, while the owner capitalist appropriates all the wealth created the rest of the day. This is the reality of wage exploitation. This is why unity between women and men workers is imperative for the liberation of women workers.

Against this backdrop of crisis, it's hardly surprising that reactionary ideas, including the sexist and misogynist ones they underpin, are developing and flourishing.

For example, we heard Zemmour, the ultra-reactionary favorite of billionaire Bolloré, who regularly gives him a platform on his CNews media outlet, explain the natural inferiority of women in relation to men. Yet it is precisely the invention of this inferiority that justifies the over-exploitation and oppression of women. Based on the same principle, it's exactly the same process that inferiorizes certain categories of people because of their supposed origin or sexual orientation, with the aim of reinforcing exploitation and saving the bourgeois order by sowing division and breaking up the struggling collectives that contribute to the unity of the working class.

It was against this backdrop that we heard Emmanuel Macron speak of France's "demographic rearmament" at his press conference on January 16, 2024. Given the current situation, this rearmament will inevitably fall to women: it will be women who, in addition to pregnancies, on the basis of which employers already discriminate against them in accessing and maintaining employment because of the maternity leave they entail, will have to take on most of the domestic work that this "rearmament" will require. This announcement is accompanied by a new deceptive measure, with "birth leave" limited to 6 months, while in the meantime, until the child is at school, the most precarious working women or those bringing up their children alone will find no more than today a sufficient number of free crèches to continue their professional activity.

The experiences of socialist states demonstrate this, many of them having been forerunners and examples in the field of gender equality. “The Bolsheviks possess a magical power” wrote Lenin, “this magical power is to involve the exploited, the poor, in sharing day after day the work of governing the State”; it is impossible to bring the masses into political life without bringing women", women who made up half the population and "there cannot be a socialist revolution without a large section of women taking part in it" . Hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants became active builders of the new society, “that every cook can lead the State” was one of the slogans.

In the USSR, the principle of equal pay, for equal work between men and women, became a reality, not just a formal declaration or intention as in contemporary France and other capitalist countries.

The law punished any obstruction or discrimination regarding wages. Soviet socialism, breaking with medieval and religious prejudices, was the first country to bring women massively into the world of work, thus creating the material conditions for their economic independence. The woman benefited from maternity leave with continued full salary. In companies, there were crèches where parents could see their child during their working day. The USSR tackled the double working day of women since, in addition to meals taken at the company in the canteens, there was the possibility of taking their evening meal for a modest sum or dropping off the laundry at the foot of his building in the neighborhood.

Our party deploys and produces 7 posters and slogans for women's rights. We also use a survey leaflet distributed in the working class and companies with a majority of women such as in the food industry, textiles, health logistics platforms and hospitals. We are finally considering creating a dedicated site for our general campaign "let's blame capitalism" on the question of women's struggle.

For capitalism, this is not the time to fight against gender-based and sexual violence, and even less the time for equality between women and men: as long as society is divided between exploiters and exploited, all inequalities will be preserved and even encouraged, since they serve the interests of these same exploiters.

Our struggles are the only way to reduce inequalities, but our struggles must also go beyond palliative solutions and aim to abolish all inequalities by abolishing capitalism itself. It's only with a socialist society, a society free of exploitation, abolishing wage-labour, where all work – including domestic work - is organized, planned and allocated according to the needs of society as a whole and the means of each of the individuals making it up, that we'll see real equality between women and men, and consequently an end to all forms of gender-based and sexual violence.