In Mid-July, the IIRE again organized a women's seminar. A report and some photos can be found here. Here, we publish a report by Penny Duggan, one of the organizers of the seminar.
This was an extremely successful seminar, and by the far the best attended such event we have had at the IIRE. This is obviously a reflection of the new rise of the women's movement we have seen in recent years, and the composition also reflected to what extent this is a movement that has emerged above all in the global south.
The participants, forty in total, came from: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Spanish State, Switzerland, Tunisia and Turkey. Eighteen were from outside Europe; and those who unfortunately were not able to come although registered were all also from the global south. We lacked the promised participants from Algeria, India, Morocco, Puerto Rico and Sri Lanka, notably because of the difficulty in obtaining visas.
The new women's movements are also notable for young age of the participants. While we did not have young teenagers in our seminar, over almost a quarter (8) were under 30 while more than half were under 40 years old, which is also a significant shift in our rejuvenation and renewal.
We started our seminar with a discussion on new theoretical and analytical contributions to the understanding of women's oppression, its relationship to class society and capitalism, and why and how it continues. Our contributors Julia Cámara from the Spanish state and Tithi Bhattacharya (by skype from the US) outlined the contributions of social reproduction theory, “constructivist” (rather than “essentialist”) ecofeminism and feminist economics to this understanding.
To open the discussion on the actual reality of the movements today we heard three contributions: from Argentina, Tunisia and the Spanish state. In another striking confirmation of the interest and enthusiasm provoked by the experiences we are living through all the participants had also made written reports in answer to a series of questions concerning the nature of the movement in their own countries. We were not unfortunately able to translate all these, but discussion between the participants was facilitated by discussion in language groups and 3 way simultaneous translation in plenary sessions. For this latter we were extremely grateful to the professional interpreters who assured this on a volunteer basis.
A final session discussed how our own organizations can deepen and consolidate their feminist profile: in our political activity and analysis, and in organizational practice. This is an ongoing discussion as practice evolves unevenly but while we know that our organizations cannot be islands of feminist socialism we strive nevertheless to build organizations where women, and all specially oppressed groups, feel able to contribute and act.
The conclusions of the seminar covered an ambitious range of production and publication: continuing debates opened during the seminar, working on theoretical issue, projecting the publication of contributions in book form. Nevertheless, our first priority is the production of a resolution summarizing the new rise of the women's movement, the context in which it has emerged, the different factors that have contributed to this, the specificities of this movement in comparison with previous waves of the mass women's movements, and its role in the class struggle as a whole. We hope that the discussion of this resolution will enable all comrades grasp the importance of this new movement.
So we would like once again to thank those who made this seminar possible by their generous donations that enabled us to ensure the presence of so many comrades from the global south.