FIR congratulates on International Women’s Day

8. März 2024

It is by no means a new insight, but it must be emphasized repeatedly that women played an indispensable role in the ranks of the anti-Hitler coalition. They were among the active fighters in the ranks of the Soviet partisans, like Zoia Kosmodemyanskaya, whom we remembered in the FIR bulletin some time ago. They were fighters in the illegal resistance movement, like the Dutch woman Hannie Schaft, the “girl with the red hair”, or they were active in the student resistance, like Sophie Scholl, a member of the German “White Rose” group. We mention these three names in the knowledge that in all countries where there was anti-fascist resistance, women played a great role in the ranks of the resistance movement. At the risk of their lives, they fought for freedom, democracy and human rights, for international solidarity and peaceful coexistence between peoples. These women also broke through the traditional gender roles assigned to them and lived out their emancipation.
When they wanted to redefine their social role after the destruction of fascist barbarism, they often had to experience that the male mechanisms of domination had not been abolished simply by overcoming the old order. In many cases, they had to assert actual equality and recognition of gender justice in everyday political and social life. They also made a great contribution here.
In many FIR member federations, women played an important role and made their perspective clear. FIR has expressed its appreciation of this lifetime achievement by appointing Esther Bejarano (Germany), Celine van de Hoek de Vries (Netherlands), Lore Krüger (Germany), Barbara Piotrowska (Poland), Delfina Tomás (Spain) and Marie-Louise Vanderborght-Veldemann (Belgium) as members of the Honorary Presidium.

We know very well that symbolic recognition is still a long way from making gender equality an everyday reality. This also includes social justice, as called for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, equal pay for work of equal value, equal access to education and qualifications, decent working and living conditions, the creation of a framework for childcare and the division of household and care work that enables women to take their place in society. We recall how many women have linked their fight for equal rights with the advocacy of a socially just, democratic and peaceful society, as already propagated by the German socialist and women’s rights activist Clara Zetkin at the resolution of the first International Socialist Women’s Conference in Stuttgart in 1907. Although the focus was initially on political equality and women’s suffrage, even then it was also about social equality.
This means something completely different to the “feminist” issues pushed to the fore by the media today. Anyone who talks about “feminist foreign policy” and at the same time advocates militarization and the prolongation of war is trampling on the interests of women in all war zones. Those who criticize the oppression of women through reactionary, religiously legitimized dress codes, but at the same time engage in racist persecution and exclusion of people with a Muslim background, do not stand for equality and tolerance.

FIR and its member federations therefore do not see International Women’s Day as a “symbolic day” for women’s emancipation, but as an obligation for all of us to work towards these goals 365 days a year. With this in mind, we wish all women in our organizations and beyond all the best for International Women’s Day with the historic slogan: “Bread and Roses!”