By: Ruth Ntlokotse, NUMSA’s 2nd Deputy President & Chairperson of NUMSA Gender Structure / The Dawn News / March 8, 2018
More than 100 years ago on March 8, 1917, women working in the textile factories in Petrograd — then the Russian capital — led a historic protest on International Women’s Day. Their actions contributed to the spark that lit the Russian Revolution which overthrew the oppressive rule of Tsar Nicholas II, and ended the Romanov dynasty and the Russian Empire. Their revolutionary actions paved the way for the formation of a truly equal, worker controlled government and society.
There are countless examples of women being at the forefront of revolutionary struggles. In South Africa working class women were at the heart of the liberation movement to overthrow the ruthless Apartheid system. Women like Lillian Ngoyi; Frances Baard and Sophia Williams marched in their thousands in August 1956 to demonstrate against the pass laws. Working class women have also had a prominent role in the labour movement, to fight for improved living and working conditions.
NUMSA wants to take this moment to honour the brave fearless women of the working class. They have always been central to the liberation of our society. However, more than one hundred years after that historic moment during the Russian Revolution and the journey to true liberation is far from over.
We are still reeling from news about female workers at a gambling company called Top Bet who were strip searched and humiliated by a branch manager, after menstrual blood was found at the workplace. As NUMSA we condemn Top Bet and its management for this incident!
Last year Thembisile Yende was killed at Eskom where she worked, and her body was locked in her office. These brutal incidents are just the tip of the ice berg. Women are victims of abuse in all sectors of society, including religious institutions, the home and the workplace. It is not enough to mark special holidays celebrating Women. We need to be united and organized so we can achieve freedom and equality through a classless society.
We have learnt lessons from the experience of all former imperialist colonies and our post 1994 experience, that it is impossible to resolve the national, gender, race, and class question in South Africa, and the rest of the post-colonial world, without simultaneously defeating capitalism and imperialism. This is the only path to establishing a truly democratic Socialist society!
The struggle continues!