On March 8, 1917, women went on strike in the then Russian capital of St Petersburg, demanding Bread and Peace. At that time Tsarist Russia was in the middle of the bloody First World War, with millions of soldiers perishing at the Front for a war that brought nothing but misery and devastation to millions more. As the day advanced, tens of thousands of women took to the streets with a spontaneity ans militancy that shook the rulers of Russia. The women's struggle spread like wildfire and soon men joined the ranks of women. The mass upheaval that followed led to the abdication of the Tsar a few days later and paved the way for the Russian Revolution later that year. The Russian Revolution of 1917, as we know, not only ended the war for Russia but also gave women rights unparalleled in history.
Today, a century and two years later, the rulers of India have thrust on us a warlike situation. The ruling Sangh Parivar-BJP combine has whipped up a frenzy of national chauvinism and jingoism. In order to divert public attention from our basic needs, from the exploitation of the masses, the government has resorted to rabid warmongering and is intent on splitting society along communal lines.
On this International Workingwomen's Day, let us unite in our demand for Peace and Rights. Women have always been the worst victims of any war. In all militarised parts of our country, from J&K to the Northeast to Chhattisgarh, women are subjected not only to unimaginable atrocities by the armed forces but are also deprived of the most basic rights. We want an end to this situation, we certainly do not want it to be scaled-up across the country.
India has the dubious distinction of being the country that is the most unsafe for women. The sorry state of women in our country, the violence and degradation that they are unexceptionally subject to, the added exploitation of Dalit women and women belonging to minority communities -- are of too great a magnitude to be chronicled.
As we fight for equality, as we fight for our inalienable rights to a life of dignity and liberty, what we do not need is a war. Nor do we need the war hysteria that puts paid to all democratic struggles.
Let us recall the role of our Russian sisters on 8th March a hundred and two years ago, and loudly clearly raise the demand for Peace. Let our unity drive out the warmongerers forever.
With revolutionary greetings,
General Secretary, AIRWO