Women, Work-place and exploitation under capitalism

 In Economics, Gender Identity

The emancipation, liberation of women can be accomplished only through the emancipation of the working class–and therefore of all society by a socialist revolution, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the wiping out of all remnants of the propertied classes.

The role of women has always been bound up with their role in the process of production. Male supremacy and the corresponding myth of female inferiority arose with the development of class society and with the isolation of women from the process of production. In advanced capitalist society, women have become more and more an integral part of the working class.

With the exploitation and oppression of women as modern workers as proletarians comes the seeds of their own emancipation. As their role in the productive forces increases, it is possible and absolutely necessary that women become leaders not just in the women’s movement, but more importantly in the in the fight for socialism.

The rise of capitalism took women out of the home and into the working class. This didn’t mean that the domestic labor of working women ceased, but only that they took on two jobs, now, instead of one.

When capitalism was just developing, the cost of maintenance of women and children was cheaper and more profitable than the purchase of heavy machinery. All through the civilized world, women performed heavy labor and died, very often, from simple over-work.

Working conditions were so abominable and the struggles against them were reaching such a level that the bourgeoisie was forced to pass a few liberal, labor laws limiting the workday to 12 hours and, forbidding women and children from working in the mines. These restrictions helped lead to the wider use of machinery, and in turn, to even larger-scale production.

Male supremacy remained and still remains as a representative of bourgeois ideology. Its function was and is to divide working class men and women.

Women’s economic empowerment includes women’s ability to participate equally in existing markets, their access to and control over productive resources, access to decent work, control over their own time, lives and bodies and increased voice, agency and meaningful participation in economic decision-making at all levels from the household to international institutions.

When more women work, economies grow. Women’s economic empowerment boosts productivity, increases economic diversification and income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes. Increasing the female could boost GDP by over 6 trillion, recognizing, however, that growth does not automatically lead to a reduction in gender-based inequality. Conversely, it is estimated that gender gaps cost the economy some 15 percent of GDP.

In all regions, globally, about 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men. Out of 189 economies assessed in 2018, 104 economies still have laws preventing women from working in specific jobs, 59 economies have no laws on sexual harassment in the workplace and in 18 economies husbands can legally prevent their wives from working.

Globally, women are under-paid less than men. The gender wage gap is estimated to be 23 per cent. Though these figures understate the real extent of gender pay gaps, particularly in developing countries where informal self-employment is prevalent.

Women also face the motherhood wage penalty, which increases as the number of children a woman has increases.

The emancipation of women in the working class is necessary. Marx and Engels showed that women’s oppression is a function of class society, and therefore, the struggle against women’s oppression must be an integral part of the struggle against capitalism.

In the “Rules and Administrative Regulations” of the First International they explained, “That the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves; that, the struggle for the emancipation of the working classes means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule.”

While fighting for reforms to improve conditions for working women and all of the oppressed, they always linked this to the broader labor movement and the struggle for socialism.

The capitalist society depends on the nuclear family for the reproduction of class relations, with the resultant; subordination of women to men within it. This gives rise to double oppression of women as both workers and as women, and the specific forms this takes: sexualized violence, gender roles, and so on.

The capitalists also use the (cheaper) labor of women, immigrants, and even children to divide the working class and drive down wages for all workers. Women are the majority contributors of the economy, socialism Can Not exist without the emancipation if women in the working class

Engels wrote nearly a century and a half ago in The Origin of the Family: “The overthrow of mother-right was the world historical defeat of the female sex. The man took command in the home also; the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude, she became the slave of his lust and a mere instrument for the production of children. This degraded position of the woman, especially conspicuous among the Greeks of the heroic and still more of the classical age, has gradually been palliated and glossed over, and sometimes clothed in a milder form; in no sense has it been abolished.”

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  • Douglas Bongani

    This was a good read and it was very informative

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