Islamabad, 7th March 2023: In their joint statement on the 113th International Working Women’s Day, the federal leadership of Women Democratic Front (WDF) observed that the entire world is overcome by a sense of dread. The changes in the global economy have dismantled opportunity over a generation, amidst austerity measures and capitalist upheaval.
Ismat Shahjahan, WDF President, noted, “We are suffering from economic crises, floods due to climate imperialism, and proxy wars. Most western imperialist countries have already established social or liberal democratic republics at the third world’s expense, while we are still struggling in the 21st century for a basic level welfare state that can provide for basic needs and pen-path. WDF commits to struggle till the complete decolonization of the country. We, as women, need to collectively protest for health, education, and pension services, while denouncing class oppression, hunger, displacement, and regressive climate policies.”
“The working masses are barely able to survive, living very close to the bone, and yet the rat race continues globally. As companies around the globe slash positions, many workers, especially those on the margins of society, are steeped in worry that they might be next,” said Tooba Syed, Federal Information Secretary.
With the global economic recession leading to widespread unemployment, lay-offs, homelessness, and hunger, a wave of hopelessness looms large. This is the result of neoliberal political projects, which have tied people’s hands in all-powerful machines of profit-first, self-interested thinking.
Alya Bakshal, General Secretary WDF, declared, “We demand immediate resettlement of flood affectees and provision of resources by the federal government to the flood-affected provinces; and complete provincial autonomy, and transfer of fiscal and political powers to the provincial and local governments to equip them for climate disasters and pandemics.” Alya demands “an end to the colonial model of river management, gross negligence on behalf of the state, and sustained dispossession of people and expropriation of their lands.”
Zoya Rehman, Federal Education Secretary, stated, “Workers all over the world, especially those on the frontline, are being forced to work more under exploitative conditions, to adhere to their need to survive, despite the risk of disease, disability, and potential death on a daily basis they experience at their jobs.” She elaborated, “As we witness a massive class struggle for survival around the world, we must also not forget our transgender comrades who are currently at the behest of a dangerous and deadly disinformation campaign.”
The federal leadership underscored that institutions dictated by the order-giving elite class have failed the working people of the world. Tooba added, “Our children are growing in a world doomed to fail. If we cannot untie the knots and reclaim our shared future, our world risks dissolving the ladders of survival for good. Trickle-down economics is a lie: it is propagated at the expense of our blood, sweat and tears, and the few resources we have to survive in current times, resulting from greed and political expediency of capitalists.”
It is high time that women of the world unite their struggles with those of the working class. With bloated prices and increasing inflation, a real class struggle is on the horizon. Now, more than ever, women need to question the foundations of capitalism as a socioeconomic system.
Ismat highlighted, “Imperialism is inscribed in the very foundation of capitalism. With a hegemonic national-security state and associated military expenditures and militarization of the economy, millions are suffering around the world due to the absence of public services, and increasing indebtedness resulting in high inflation. The capitalist and imperialist nature of political economies makes our lives worse. We need to be more critical of what security states are doing across the world, particularly in our region.”
WDF expressed solidarity with Kurdish, Afghan, Pakistani, and Iranian sisters who are fighting against authoritarian regimes, for peace, sovereignty, and democracy. It expressed deep concern over the plight of women in war zones and the growing patriarchal authoritarianism inflicted upon women. A large number of women and girls have not only been displaced from their native homes but have also been evicted from public life, education, and jobs. With the increased militarization and weaponization of society, the use of firearms has become common for ‘honour killing’ in Pakistan. WDF also demanded change in foreign policy that uses terrorism as a foreign policy tool, and a cut in military expenditures and withdrawal of $17.4 subsidies to the elite groups in Pakistan.
Our region is in the grip of patriarchal extremism and barbarism under state patronage, mainly in the theocratic and authoritarian states of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.
WDF demands peace, sovereignty, and democracy from Kabul to Islamabad and Tehran.
Zoya noted, “These wars exacerbate violence against women and khawaja siras, resulting in widespread patriarchy in public spheres and private spheres.”
Alya spoke, “We call for a collective struggle of these forces for the democratisation of the economy, including progressive tax and budget reforms, trade reforms, and urban and agrarian land ownership structures and policies for equal distribution of resources.”
WDF also declared: “We strongly condemn the anti-feminist response by the state to 8th March commemorations in Pakistan and the denial of NOCs to the women’s marches in cities. If half of humanity i.e women are denied the right to march peacefully on their internal day, we cannot accept Pakistan as a ‘democratic’ country.”
Ismat expressed, “We extended fullest solidarity to all marches being held in Pakistan on 8th March and the following week. We endorse their demands, particularly of the ‘Baloch Women Under State Oppression’ by Voice for Baloch Missing Persons in Karachi, and Baloch Yakjehti Committee in Quetta; ‘Mehnatkash Aurat Rally’ by Home-Based Women Worker’s Federation in Karachi; and Aurat Azadi Marches/Aurat Marches in Hyderabad, Karachi, Ghotki, Multan, Islamabad, Lahore and other cities by various feminist groups; and ‘Aurat Azadi Conference’ in Larkana, and ‘Aurat Azadi Jalsa’ in Islamabad by WDF. “
“We demand an immediate end to imperialist proxy wars as it has provided a natural habitat for the overdevelopment of patriarchy, militarization, and radicalization of our state and society. The state and society both must be deradicalized through secularising and democratising the curricula and culture, and a complete stop to state patronage to proxy militants. End the war on oppressed nations, and end military operations and repressive policies.”
“We call upon all feminist, socialist, nationalist, and secular democratic forces in the country to form solidarity and unite around the minimum agenda above for the liberation of the masses, women, oppressed nations, khawaja sira people, and people of persecuted religions, nations, ethnicities, and sects.”