94th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage - So Much More to Work For!

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August 26 marks the 94th anniversary of U.S. women gaining the right to vote. Today, we celebrate our audacious foremothers of many colors who waged a courageous struggle to improve the lives of women.   

As the most militant suffragists knew, winning the power of the ballot was a huge advance, but could not solve inequality especially for women who were of color, immigrants or working class. And so the fight for women’s liberation continues. 
 
A burning issue affecting women are today's unending wars for profit, resources and territory. Militarism at home and abroad has boomed under the Democratic Party administration of Barack Obama with the full complicity of both capitalist parties.
 

March to United Nations headquarters in New York City protesting bombings in Gaza, Aug. 2014. 

Israel's murderous assault on Palestinians in Gaza proceeds with U.S. armaments, purchased with $3.1 billion in annual U.S. aid. More than 2,000 Gazans have been killed since the beginning of Israeli bombing, including 553 children and 253 women. Working-class women and men around the world have hit the streets to protest the onslaught in Gaza. The source of the conflict is here in the U.S., which upholds Israel as a bulwark of U.S. foreign policy. U.S. funds to Israel must be stopped!
 
In Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, U.S. bombs, drones and troops are often justified as defense of women or democracy. But women's status throughout the region has been drastically lowered by an oft-repeated U.S. policy cycle: first, arm far-right fundamentalists to stop working-class revolt; then disavow these allies when they begin to challenge U.S. dictates; finally, attack them militarily to preserve U.S. interests at enormous cost to human life and the environment. 
 
The problem is not only in the Middle East. The U.S. gives hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid to Mexico supposedly for fighting narco-traffickers. In reality, the money is being used to stifle protest by impoverished workers and to seize indigenous lands and resources for the benefit of giant corporations and drug cartels.
 
Community self-defense forces have formed to protect towns and villages, with considerable success. The Mexican government has responded by jailing scores of these defenders, including Nestora Salgado, a U.S. citizen, feminist and elected leader of the indigenous police force in her home village of Olinalá. A growing international campaign to free Salgado and other political prisoners is demanding an end to government repression against all self-defense forces and indigenous communities and a stop to U.S. military aid.
 

Rally in Portland, Ore. in solidarity
with protests in Ferguson, Aug. 2014. 

And here at home Ferguson, Missouri. Brave protesters in the predominantly poor and African American community faced down tanks, tear-gas and rubber bullets to demonstrate against the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black 18-year-old, by a white cop. Who gave the robo-police their tanks and state of the art military armaments? The Department of Homeland Security the same bureau whose ICE agents are furiously deporting immigrant children back across a super-militarized border.
 
What should feminists do? We can honor the militant suffragists by expanding our vision beyond the ballot box. To gain equality and justice for the world's oppressed majority means eliminating the capitalist system that fuels militarism, war, poverty, sexism and scapegoating of all kinds. The alternative is socialism: a democratic, planned sharing of the world's resources for the benefit of all people rather than just a powerful few. Socialism promotes peace and equality, rather than war and bigotry, because it relies on cooperation, unlike capitalism's insatiable competition for profit. This massive restructuring will take a united movement of working people, led by women, people of color, first nations, immigrants and queers. We must lead the change we want to see.
 
To build the fight for a better future, let's come together with these demands:

  • Defund the U.S. military, Homeland Security and ICE!
     
  • End all U.S. wars. Stop U.S. funds to Israel. Support the global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Drop the prosecution of Rasmea Odeh, a gutsy Palestinian-American feminist arrested by Homeland Security on trumped-up charges as harassment for 40 years of community organizing to empower Arab women and win justice for Palestinians.
     
  • End military aid to Mexico. Free Nestora Salgado and all political prisoners. Open U.S. borders.
     
  • Put police under community control through independent elected civilian review boards empowered to investigate, punish and fire abusive cops. Organize community self-defense in the tradition of the Black Panthers and today's indigenous Mexican communities.
     
  • Redirect military dollars into schools, social services, housing and jobs. End the poverty-to-prison pipeline and a justice system skewed against people of color. Free Marissa Alexander  an African American domestic violence survivor threatened with a 60-year sentence for an act of self-defense that harmed no one.
     

Get involved the world needs you! 
 
In solidarity,
 
Helen Gilbert
National Executive Committee
Radical Women