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.
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.