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Contribution of the Party of Labour of Austria

Feb 26, 2024

Women’s Liberation and Class Struggle


Contribution of the Party of Labour Austria (PdA) to the teleconference of the European Communist Action (ECA): "We intensify the struggle for women's emancipation, against the EU and the system of capitalist exploitation and imperialist wars!", 25 April 2024


Dear comrades!

It is no secret that women have a harder life than men in our society: they receive lower wages, get worse jobs and lower pensions. Even the education and training system is designed to create inequality. In addition, women bear the brunt of the unpaid work, the reproductive work, especially in the household and possibly in childcare and family care. Patriarchal structures and hierarchies prevail, which are characterised by discrimination, sexism and violence.

We would like to emphasise this with some data from Austria. The gender pay gap in Austria is over 18 per cent - well above the EU average of twelve per cent. Women therefore earn less than men by this percentage. After retirement, things get even worse: on average, a woman receives 40 per cent less in pension payments than a man, and more than half of all female pensioners live below the poverty line. Women carry out 63 per cent of household work and almost 70 per cent of childcare. 46 per cent of all girls and women in Austria have experienced discrimination at school, university or in the workplace. 74 per cent of all women have experienced sexual harassment, 29 per cent sexual violence and seven per cent of all women have been victims of rape. The conviction rate for perpetrators is only slightly above ten per cent. Last year there were 28 femicides in Austria - this is also an unpleasant European record.

As communists, we know that none of this is a coincidence, but a result of the development of class societies. Capitalism relies on exploiting women in particular and keeping them in a special relationship of oppression. Resistance to the prevailing conditions and the consistent struggle to improve the situation and rights of women are therefore necessary. The emancipatory movement has achieved some progress in this respect, but the capitalist system of rule prevents complete gender equality.

Therefore, the struggle for the complete liberation of women is a necessary part of the revolutionary class struggle for socialism, which must be waged by women and men of the working class alike. Accordingly, the Party of Labour of Austria has stated in its programmatic principles in Article 10:

"The PdA is an emancipatory party. It understands the struggle for the complete equality, self-determination and liberation of women as an obligatory part of the class struggle of the working class for its rights and for socialism. The PdA rejects gender-specific discrimination, sexism, reactionary role models and patriarchal hierarchies and is committed to overcoming them."

In this context, it goes without saying that we distance ourselves from bourgeois feminism. Our concern is not how many CEOs in the largest Austrian banks and corporations are female. Nor are we interested in how many women are in the federal government or whether women can make a "career" in the armed forces. There are no class-neutral "general women's interests" that we would represent independently of the social and property issues of capitalism.

We know very well: The complete liberation of women and gender equality require the realisation of socialism and communism. That is why our motto is: The struggle for women's liberation means class struggle!