Editorial by Josette Combes, RIPESS Europe
«In solidarity with women around the world »
This slogan has travelled all over the world where women are organizing to make their voices heard. “We are women, we are proud and resistant and angry” could be heard on 8 March in the demonstrations in Toulouse and elsewhere in France. In Europe and throughout the world, International Women’s Rights Day is celebrated on the same date without any real measure of whether this is a step forwards in terms of the injustices that persist.
A partial list are: wage inequalities, mistreatment at work and in the family sphere, confiscated public space, the double burden of production/reproduction, discrimination of all kinds, such as skin color, physical or other disability.
A world tour of the fate of women reveals such inequalities: from Charybdis to Scylla one would think that Western women today escape the worst, admittedly after long and ongoing struggles. This is what ignorant people reply to women who protest: the right to vote has been gained (but representation in assemblies is still unequal), as well the right to abortion (but threatened in the United States and in some Eastern countries of Europe), the right to financial independence (but for some jobs women’s salaries are still 15 to 25% lower depending on the country), parental parity (the man is no longer the head of the family, but in fact he is the one who is addressed to first for “serious matters”), the potential sharing of household tasks (but women continue to do most of them).
Of course we are not veiled ( let’s express our solidarity with our Afghan sisters) but still under the imperative of appearances with a budget to match. Certainly we move around freely (let’s express our solidarity with our sisters in Saudi Arabia and Iran), but the street is a stressful place after a certain hour of the day, we have access to health care if we need it but our pains are not always taken seriously by the medical profession. Women’s voices are still not believed when they denounce the rapes and violence they suffer, when they can do so without risking social banishment.
Feminist movements that have made progress possible are confronted with the dispute of de-colonial feminists who refuse – and this is legitimate – to be “assimilated” into a pseudo-universalism that denies cultural differences in the appreciation of what non-Western women can and should claim, notably their relationship to motherhood and the perception of the body in general.
Fighting for women’s rights is not enough without adding the rights of LGBTQI+ communities. However, possible dissents weaken the cohesion that is so necessary if we want to engage in the paradigm switch that is key to the shift towards an egalitarian society and, in particular, not to dissociate the condition of women from the rest of the elements that generate inequalities, patriarchy and an ultra-liberal economy that destroys and makes life artificial on the planet and is based on the triple exploitation of women, of colonized peoples and of the resources of nature.
Women are the guardians of life but they cannot hope to transform society alone. They must be able to involve men of goodwill who turn away from the challenging and toxic masculinity based on competition and confrontation. We must affirm benevolence and gentleness as virtues to be shared by both sexes, care for ourselves and others, respect for life, as the basis of psychological and societal balance, and combine our strengths and desires to found societies of peace where the only weapons allowed will be palaver and the art of eloquence, and above all competitions in know-how together.
This civilisation will be ruined if it does not stop the waste of resources and the massacres that are perpetrated and perpetuated to maintain an erratic economic machine that benefits only a ridiculous percentage of the world’s inhabitants. Women are half of humanity and their activism is needed now more than ever, not only to restore their rights but to initiate a fundamental shift in the culture of humanity. « We are women, we are proud and resilient and angry ».