The class character of the women question and its development. The responsibilities of the CPs for the emancipation of women

Eleni Mpellou, member of the PB of the CC of the KKE

The communist view and political line on women's inequality

In the works of scientific communism, the historical research on the social-economic, legislative and general cultural position in each socio-economic formation is related to the analysis of the class structure of society and the discovery of the laws that govern the prevalent social relations, above all the relations of ownership and production/distribution. We still have the crucial work of F. Engels "The origin of the family, private property and the state". The dialectical materialist analysis of the position of women in society is present in a plethora of works of the founders of the communist ideology, with specific references not just at an analytical-theoretical level, but also at a political level. These are references both to the conditions of the class struggle in capitalism, as well as to the conditions during socialist construction, after the victory of the socialist revolution and the establishment of revolutionary workers' power.

The victory of the October Socialist Revolution in Russia on October 25 (or November 7 1917 on the basis of the new calendar) encourages us to remember that Lenin as the leader of the communist party of the Bolsheviks contributed so that amongst the first legislative measures of a revolutionary character there were included measures regarding the end of discrimination against the women workers, peasants and working women in general. These were measures that gave women equal rights with men inside and outside of the family, established their right to elect and be elected, to decide on maternity without other preconditions, while it also established full rights for children born out of wedlock. In parallel, they practically recognized and supported the right of women to participate in social labour, something that is a fundamental precondition for their economic emancipation.

This meant the creation of economic, social, political conditions so that women could participate in the construction of the new socialist society, in social and economic activity on an equal footing with men.

The significance as well as the qualitative-revolutionary character of such measures can only be highlighted by placing them in their historical context, in the conditions of the transition to socialist construction in Russia, which despite the fact that it was capitalist was characterized by intense unevenness and pre-capitalist backwardness with the continuing existence of significant feudal vestiges in a number of sectors of social life.

But even in comparison to the leading capitalist states of Europe at the time, the legislative and practical political measures of the new Soviet power were unprecedented, influenced gains for women even in capitalist societies, were a new chapter in the development of humanity, in the "transition from barbarism to civilization."

Lenin's political position on the measures that would free women from the tiring and joyless toil in the family household e.g. through the creation of public laundries, restaurants in workplaces, a wide network of nurseries, protection of the women's body, particularly of pregnant women and women that are breastfeeding, the non-transfer of mothers of children of up to 12-14 years of age far from their place of residence for work reasons. All these must be assessed in their historical context.

For example, it is one thing for women to enter social production with a level of general education and specialization and another thing to have to confront their illiteracy at the same time. It is one thing when women's specialization comes in essence from their "housework" (e.g. sewing, weaving etc.) and another to have passed through a unified level of specialization for both sexes. Even more so, it is one thing for socialist construction to begin with a very low percentage of wage labour amongst the working population, as in Russia, (about 20% of men-women, with women's participation in the labour force being around 31%) and quite another to begin socialist construction with a very high percentage of wage labour (60% and above, with women's participation being close to 50%).

We should not forget that socialist construction began in a country which had not yet been electrified and of course there was no such thing as electric washing machines, kitchens and other such household appliances. Illiteracy was prevalent in the Tsarist Empire, while women's participation in social labour, transport, state services, only in its advanced sections was comparable with countries like Germany, France, Britain, where the 1st World War had lent impetus to this.

The very rapid and impressive results in terms of labour, social, political rights, the overall position of women in the society of socialist construction and the influence it exerted on the capitalist world as well, highlight the enormous potential of communist relations. The only way to approach them is by taking their context into account, to adjust them to the current level of development of the productive forces, as well as to highlight that capitalist relations are an obstacle to the satisfaction of the contemporary needs.

Alexandra Kollontai's book "The woman question from primitive society to the modern era" (1925) [1] is very revealing about the content of the political and also ideological intervention of revolutionary worker's power, under the leadership of the CP Russia (b).

Kollontai, similarly to Lenin, used the slogan for "women must be freed from their pots and pans". Today, due to the development of productive forces, the "slavery of the individual household" has different technical and social conditions than it had a century ago. In a large part of the global capitalist world women do not wash by hand or cook on primitive stoves. Of course these phenomena still exist in modern capitalism, especially in extensive regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America. There are still even in the most developed capitalist societies numerous homeless women, as well as men, due to long term unemployment and destitution. At the same time, there are also the wretched conditions for women refugees, their children, even in European countries, like Greece.

The refugee phenomenon has brought close to us once again not just the extreme discrimination against women, but also the barbarity of practices such as clitoridectomy, the forced marriage of adolescents, the bigamy of men, anachronistic traditions-which are wrapped in the status of the dominant religious doctrines-which make women cover their faces and bodies.

These are pre-capitalist remnants, which survive in capitalist societies, particularly where Islam continues to play a dominant role. We should also not forget that Christianity, especially Catholicism, has imposed its own reactionary views and practices (e.g. the non-recognition of sexual relations out of wedlock, the non-recognition of divorce, of abortions etc.) and even the Holy Inquisition and the burning of "witches".

Scientific communism revealed that the historically formed economic-social factors transformed female labour from social to individual-family and over the course of thousands of years new economic-social factors turned it back into being social.

The cause of the additional- i.e. in relation to men-inequality of women is very deeply rooted in the history of social development. It was not always the case in all societies. It occurred when society was separated into classes thousands of years ago, when labour productivity was at very low levels, and the sectors where men worked began to expand, while the sectors where women worked remained limited. Based on the level of development of society for the protection of the reproduction of the species, women could not overcome their biological differences with men which made them more vulnerable to nature.

In these very ancient times, when the potential for some to live at the expense of others first emerged, for some to exploit the results of others' labour, to concentrate the means of production into their hands, it was in this period that women's labour lost its social character and women were subordinated to men. Even women from the class that was in power did not have the same rights as men.

But this situation had its exceptions. There were women with privileges; there were queens in slave-owning and feudal societies, as there were women playing a leading role in the arts, sciences, in social struggles, women weavers, women workers in the ancient Greek cities, in the slave-owning society of ancient Rome etc.

Capitalist industry from the 18th and mainly in the 19th century created the conditions so that the labour of women could take on an extensive social character through the machines. All the work carried out by women in the household (in the narrow and broad sense) over the previous years now took on a social character: weaving, sowing, wool-spinning, silk work, various handicrafts.

The capitalist employers created armies of working women, who did not have the rights of working men. They paid them less, they forced them to work longer hours, they used them to threaten the gains of the men. For this reason, working men often did not turn against the capitalists-employers, but against women workers.

There was a period when they could not join the trade unions. Consequently, separate women's trade unions were created; there were separate strikes, demonstrations by women workers, like on March 8th 1857 in New York.

There was the clear participation of women, not just of petty bourgeois and peasant women, but also of workers (laundry women, flower sellers, seamstresses) in the bourgeois revolutions, like in France in 1789 and later in the 19th century, as well as in the Paris Commune (1871).

The participation of women throughout the entire revolutionary period in Russia, from February 1917 until the October Socialist Revolution, was impressive.

Today all this is part of the historical record to a certain extent. However, if we do not know this history, we cannot effectively fight against the causes of the inequality of women from the working class and popular strata today. We cannot understand the class character of the woman question in our era.

The contemporary expression of the woman question

The development of the productive forces, mainly their capitalist expression, brought a relative financial independence for women from men-according to EU data, the percentage of women in employment in the EU today is 63.5% of women capable of working.[2] This reality led to the relevant legislative adjustments, after a very long delay, e.g. for many decades equal pay has been established legally, but in practice the difference in salaries remains significant.[3] The "Women in work Index" study of the PwC, April 2017, using data from 2015, assesses that "the average working woman in the OECD still earns 16% less that her male counterpart, despite becoming better qualified.”[4]

We should note that this is the average, which means there are major variations from country to country.

However, what is general in the capitalist world is the insecurity of women workers and self-employed, the lack of a stable daily and weekly work schedule, the intensification of work without women being substantially freed up from the responsibility not only for the reproduction of her own labour power, but also for her children, and also often for unemployed spouse or for the financial support of parents who may not have social security covert etc. In essence, what should be a social right becomes a matter for the individual.

So, the financial independence of women from men could not take on the character of real economic and social liberation in the conditions of exploitative social relations. Women were not freed from class-based economic and social coercion, and neither were men.

Today, in Greece and a large number of capitalist states, a number of anachronistic obstacles to women's rights to education have been formally-legally abolished; family and inheritance law have been modernized; the mass influx of women into social labour is a fact. All this social progress does not negate the unequal position of women in the conditions of capitalist society.

The inequality, with new forms in the contemporary conditions, is often reproduced in the name of the equality between men and women. In this way positive reforms for women (e.g. lower retirement age etc.) were abolished.

The existence of the woman question is becoming less easily understood, especially by young women, students, class conscious women, trade unionists, even communists.

Young women before they experience the social problems related to maternity, the family, at the most understand the class nature of the general problems or if they have negative experiences in their families, schools, in their work in relation to the stance of men (e.g. dismissive, vulgar or even violent behaviour) adopt views that say that what we are dealing with is a male-dominated society.

These views are often adopted by opportunist political forces which have their roots in the communist movement, are decorated by a general liberalism, replacing the old slogan "I do not belong to my father, I do not belong to my husband, I belong to myself" with slogans about "gendered identities".

As the same time, we observe subtle attempts to adjust the positions and arguments of women that represent bourgeois parties.

For example, in our country a few months ago, a day conference was organized with as its theme "Harmonizing family and professional life in the era of the crisis", which was organized by the Greek Delegation of the European Women's Lobby. The speakers did not hesitate to describe the daily problems of working women in an objective way, to admit to the deterioration of their living conditions, the reduction and not the increase in the number of children's nurseries, the very high percentage of unemployed and part-time employed women, the fact that the individual is now burdened with the responsibility for the care of the elderly, the disabled in the family etc.

A former minister of ND [5] and now an MEP spoke of the rights of "citizens", men and women, distancing herself from the extreme theories about male-dominated societies. She dared to admit that there is a regression in job security, in the public and private sectors, even in comparison with the year 2000. She argued that attempts to improve the situation must be initiated by the state. However, she also stated that "parents must pay for children's nurseries" (meaning public or state nurseries). She also supported parental leave for fathers, but on the basis of the thinking that "of course, parental leave should perhaps be given to a man who does not have an enviable or important job". Here, the bourgeois view on labour, the career, which underestimates unskilled and consequently low paid work, is fully revealed.

The representative of the "left" government (General Secretariat for Gender Equality) clearly supported the "creation of businesses in the social and solidarity economy which would constitute a way of dealing with and reducing unemployment levels of women and especially of women with a high level of education and of promoting gender equality in the business sector", promoting this as a solution-antidote to the refusal of many businesses to hire women.

In other words, the capitalist state, because it does not want to socially support maternity with state measures which would create obligations for capitalist businesses, is calling on some bourgeois women to appear to be in solidarity with working class women, providing them with some temporary, flexible labour relations in businesses in the "social and solidarity economy."

Certain bourgeois women politicians, university professors, other researchers do not conceal that they are talking about women's labour from the standpoint of increasing the GDP.

Of course, there also those, like another MP from ND, who insist that the cause of the "unequal access and progress of women in the labour market", despite legal equality, is that "there is a web of mindsets and views that influence and form social consciousness, reproducing gender asymmetry."

So they invert the relationship between cause and result, because they consciously seek to conceal the fact that the exploitative ownership relations, on the basis of which social production is organized, utilize any anachronistic features that exist in the views, behaviours and social consciousness and reproduce them, if these assist in the increase of the rate of exploitation, i.e. the extraction of greater surplus value. This is an entirely different issue than what socialist construction has to confront which, while it will have overthrown and abolished exploitative ownership relations, will still encounter their chronic side effects, even during the exercising of workers' power.

A. Kollontai made a characteristic reference to this in her lecture on the "Dictatorship of the proletariat. Organization of labour", where she mentions that "the new marriage law passed on the 18th and 19th of December 1917, which determined that marriage is the union of two equal individuals. This procedural settlement is essentially nothing other than a formal equality before the law." The difficulties in passing from formal to substantial equality were related to the general economic-cultural level at the beginning of socialist construction in Russia and in the Soviet Union as a whole.

But today in capitalist countries like Greece, formal equality before the law in terms of the union of a man and woman in marriage has been acquired (not of course in the Christian religious doctrine, nor even more so in Islamic doctrine). However, real inequality mainly exists because capitalist exploitation continues to impact on waged women in multiple ways. It is in any case no accident that the counterrevolutionary overthrow of socialist construction, which humanity experienced in 20th century, resulted in a deterioration of the position of women not just in these specific countries but also in all capitalist societies, like Greece.

Today, even if bourgeois women with neo-feminist views admit to the general regression of women's gains. They attribute this to the retreat of the feminist movement of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, to its weaknesses, to the outbreak of the general economic crisis, without highlighting the real causes of the crises and the relationship between women's inequality and capitalist exploitation.

The responsibility of the CP for women's equality in the struggle for Socialism

The level of mobilization

The following questions-issues, which were also engaged with by the representatives of the CPs at the recent meeting for the specialization of their work amongst women, are of concern to our party:

  • To what extent is the increase of the participation of women in social labour, chiefly as salaried workers, but also as self-employed, reflected in the composition of the CPs first of all, in the participation of women in the labour and trade union movement, in the movements of the farmers and urban self-employed? How does this influence the view of women concerning the class to which they objectively belong? How is their political class consciousness formed?
  • How does the communist woman, i.e. the politically and class conscious woman deal with the difficulties in her political and social activity, difficulties that arise from the entirety of the problems of her class and also from the particular inequalities at her expense or from the non-satisfaction of her contemporary needs?

As regards all these issues, the numbers indicate that the participation of women workers lags behind in comparison to the economically active female population (aged 20-64), and also in comparison to the participation of men.

In Greece, the percentage of working women amongst the economically active female population is 41.7%.

The level of trade union organization of women in several sectors is lower than that of men, while women find it difficult to be elected to the higher trade union bodies, despite the significant progress that has been made.

Data from 73 federations reveals women's positions in the executive committees to be 12.5%.There is a higher level women's participation of women in the executive committees of the first-level trade unions that participate in the federations, about 30%.

However, there is a significant participation of women as voting members in trade union elections, e.g., in the following sectors: Tobacco (80.51%), Private Education (60.85%), Banks (51.59%), Tourism-Restaurants (45%), Retail-Offices (45%). [6]

The situation in the countryside is more difficult. In the last 3-4 years, specific steps have been taken to regroup the organized farmers' movement; however it is only over the last year that women have participated in the associations, in the farmers' roadblocks, in the Nationwide Meetings that decide on the course of the struggle.

On the other hand, women are more easily mobilized in matters relating to children e.g. Parents' associations. However this activity usually does not have a struggle orientation but aims to find substitutes for the shortages and gaps caused by the policies of each government.

In addition, women are more sensitive to issues of solidarity e.g. to refugees, immigrants and their children, but they are more easily pulled into activities that try to fill gaps rather than struggle to extract things from the state.

From their standpoint, the bourgeois highlight the lower participation of women in the boards of directors of companies, business groups, in the organs of bourgeois parties, in Parliament, in the European Parliament etc. [7]

Of course, we are interested in the participation of women from the working class and popular strata. From our standpoint, we are interested in the participation of women in KNE and the party.

The percentage of women in our party forces is 32%.However, the distribution of these forces at a national level and amongst different age groups has significant variations. The participation of women is much higher in the region of the capital (40%). Participation lags behind not only in semi-urban and rural areas, buts also in significant Greek cities e.g. Larissa, Ioannina.

In terms of women joining the party, we often encounter additional obstacles that are due to the long-term impact of certain reactionary views, religious vestiges, despite their class political consciousness.

We observe the trend amongst young women party members and cadres of KNE to retreat in terms of taking on increased political responsibilities in the phase of their lives when they are starting a family.

We observe a similar trend amongst women in the trade unions or amongst women active in the radical women's movement.

The lack of free time to keep abreast of developments, to study, participate makes even communist women more hesitant when it comes to discussing political matters. It limits their activity.

The gap in the participation between men and women opens up in age groups that are productive both in terms of work and in terms of sexual reproduction.

Even party members, more so trade union members, members of women's associations, feel guilty about leaving young children for more hours at the children's nurseries, at grandparents and other family members in order to carry out tasks related to political and social activity.

The view that the mother has the first and main responsibility for the full development of the child, for its performance at school is also held by party members, as well as the view that the physical-intellectual-emotional development of the child is mainly a matter for the family and not for society.

This view even leads communist women to understand their relationship with their children in a limited, narrow way based on the amount of time they spend with the child, and to unwittingly downgrade the way in which this relationship is enriched through the vanguard stance of the mother.

Specialization of the Party's work amongst women

This objective situation led us to the conclusion that even today, in the 21st century, there needs to be specialized work amongst women in the ranks of the party and KNE, in order to neutralize additional inhibiting factors to the participation-maturation of communist women, of women supporters of the party.

Nothing happens spontaneously. Our party has a very long history in terms of the participation of women. It has a long history and a great deal of experience in the work and preparation for the participation of women.

We address the slogan "Women in the front line for the overthrow of the exploitative society", looking to our own responsibilities for its realization.

Often, in bilateral meetings with communist and workers' parties, we observe that the percentage of women that participate in our party impresses them.

However, we know the root of this is found in the history of our party, in the fact that Greek women voted for the first time in the areas of Greece liberated by EAM-ELAS, in the participation of women in the people's courts and other people's committees of the DSE [8], that 1/4 of the DSE was comprised of women, in the specific organizational, ideological, educational and even military training that our party carried out amongst women.

In the furnace of the class civil war, the DSE organized a Nationwide Meeting of women where representatives from front-line units from nearly all over Greece took part, defying dangers, the class enemy with its superiority in weapons, difficult weather conditions, crossing hundreds on kilometres of the snow covered mountains. Faith in their goal made them overcome their own physical capabilities.

There was a lot of work carried out in this period through special meetings, even in the midst of tough battles, special lessons, publications etc. There was a party cadre assigned next to each political commissar to assist them in carrying out specific work amongst women.

It was very pioneering, when in 1945, the 7th Congress of our party set the goal of increasing the participation of women to 50% of its composition.

The struggle of EAM-ELAS, mainly of the DSE, as well as the organization of life in the liberated areas, provides incomparable experience and historically important lessons for the specialization of the party's work amongst women.

It provides experience concerning the political awakening of younger women, the ways in which anachronistic customs were overcome, how they were able to refute the prejudices of even militarily experienced and trained communist men, through their daring and stance in all the activities of the struggle.

Our knowledge and strength concerning the specialized work amongst women is based on the history of thousands communist women and militants that passed through prison and exile, where most of them not only did not bend but organized their life there, conveyed the flame of education, knowledge, artistic and literary creativity, neutralized individual fears through collectivity and solidarity, gave richer content to the lives of those in prison or in exile than what they had experienced when they were free.

Through all this activity, the prejudices and learned behaviours of men and women was smashed inside the party, women were promoted to the leading organs of the party including the CC and PB, and even a woman General Secretary for many years.

And later our party played the leading role in the creation of women's associations, the Nationwide Federation of Women, of women's committees in sectoral workers' federations.

However, the party did not intervene in a systematic way as regards the content of certain bourgeois modernizations (eg. In family law) which aimed to remove the impact of anachronistic views concerning the position of women in capitalist society so that women’s participation in social production would increase. Of course, the general retreat of the communist movement due to the victory of the counterrevolution made things difficult.

Consequently, some younger generations of communist women found it hard to understand the modern expression of the woman question and grasp that formal-legal equality of the sexes cannot negate the unequal position of women in class, exploitative societies.

Based on the modern forms of women's inequality, as well as their contemporary needs, inside the organs of the party and the youth organization, and with the responsibility of communist women, inside the organs of the class-oriented labour and trade union movement, inside the anti-monopoly movement organizations, we must persuade them why elaborated, specialized work amongst women of a working class-popular background or position in production is necessary for the increase of their participation in the anti-capitalist, anti-monopoly struggle, in the struggle for the overthrow of capitalism, for socialism-communism.

And this specialization cannot happen if the above all the women cadres of the party and its youth, regardless of their other duties and specialized tasks, are not dedicated to it. In parallel, this specialization must permeate every sector of work:

Ideological work, educational work, mass propaganda, work in the labour and trade union movement, in the farmers movement, in the movement of the urban self-employed, in the student and school-student movements.

Certain Issues related to the ideological struggle around the woman question

Today, there are many new approaches that conceal the class root of women's inequality .These are exceptionally dangerous views with negative consequences for the struggle of men and women inside the labour-people's movement i.e. these views work against their common class interests.

For example, the view that says that women's inequality is a product and creation of the mindset of men and concludes that women should see their husbands, brothers, fathers and male colleagues as their opponent and not the system that creates inequality, poverty, unemployment, insecurity for them and their families.

These theories and corresponding political practices, as we already mentioned, are prevalent in societies that maintain pre-capitalist vestiges, which have not made legal and cultural adjustments in line with the existent economic base of a developed capitalist society. They present as a source of the unequal position of women the specific character of the biological functions of women and the differences between the two sexes. They present it as an issue of mindset, behaviour, a result of patriarchal power. They consider that views and ideas create social problems, including the problems related to the woman question.

Finally they come to the view that gender discrimination can be confronted mainly in an educational way and through legal reforms.

They overlook the fact that ideas are created on the basis of the material relations of people and reflect them, having of course their own particular development in a specific place and time.

The KKE does not at all underestimate the role of ideas, customs, education, the church, the mass media, other institutions of the system that reproduce contemporary forms of inequality. It does not underestimate the specific work needed to fight against all this, however with the knowledge that the source of women's inequality is the division of society into exploiters and those exploited.

In modern capitalist societies, bourgeois propaganda, in the name of alleged "freedom" reproduces theories that even include irrational views about procreation and childbirth.

The theories about "social gender" engage in a sleight of hand. Talking only about the social characteristics attributed to the two sexes by each specific society, they deny their biological basis. Some of these theories present gender as a social construct, a language construct. Certain extreme views reach the point of not recognizing the biological distinction between men and women. They do not accept that there is a biological basis for the attraction between women and men so that the sexual act can be realized; on the contrary, they argue that attraction has an exclusively social root cause.

The basic problem is that they generalize and transform into theory certain specific situations regarding sexual orientation, which of course are influenced by social behaviour and problems. However, it is a mistake to consider biological gender identity as an intellectual or language construct.

The basic issue is that language reflects reality and does not create it. The words man-woman are more than simple symbols. A word is not just a contract so that we can understand each other. It has a material basis; it reflects its historical character.

And even if the homosexual sexual orientation is respected by us, it cannot form multi-faceted two-sided parental relations or form the basis for the formation of a historically new type of family.

We consider that as long as the private-capitalist ownership continues, individualism and competition, the egoistic lifestyle, will be reproduced that also influence the working class, popular strata and ruin social relations, the relations between the two sexes, personal relationships. The profit motive operates as an economic motive via the institution of the family itself, reproducing economic, social and cultural forms of coercion. The economic relations between parents and with their children, the relations in terms of the inheritance of property, are what define it, also from a legal standpoint, in capitalist society. This objective reality is also reflected in the views of young people.

In addition, many young women acquire a distorted view about financial independence, when they have work, when they are still in their parents’ home. Consequently, there must deep ideological work so that they can understand the real conditions for their economic emancipation before they face unemployment, the open exploitative and oppressive behaviour of the employers.

There needs to be specialization as regards the content of education culture, publishing activity.

The ideological-political work with women must have specialized positions concerning the work-maternity relationship, concerning our political line as a whole regarding the position of women in socialist society, the society based on the social ownership of the means of production, on exclusively free centrally-planned social services provided by the state, in education, healthcare, welfare.

It must popularize the economic-social and political preconditions required to safeguard the right and obligation to work of all women who are able in the specific time period, as well as the state's social responsibility for women's free time. That is to say, it must be explained widely that the potential for women to live in another society that satisfies their needs and rights requires revolutionary changes in their thinking and activity.

We believe that the specialization of our ideological-political work amongst women of the working class and popular strata is becoming more necessary, also due to the counterrevolutions and restoration of capitalism in the socialist countries.

The more women from the popular strata are absorbed by the problems of daily survival, the more they are fixed on their own experiences or if their understanding is limited to the boundaries of their own experience, the more difficult it is for them to understand the social and political situation more deeply, to understand the real causes of the problems, the more they will be trapped in impasses, false dilemmas, disillusionment, psychological crises and will make political choices alien to their real interests.

All these are negative factors regarding women's consciousness, results of the most negative global correlation of forces humanity has seen for the last 150 years, and reproduce the woman question, the combination of class exploitation and gender inequality in the contemporary conditions of capitalism. They reproduce new and more camouflaged forms of inequality at the expense of women.

Working women, women from the popular strata are more easily persuaded that the root cause for the non-satisfaction of their social needs is due to the mindset and behaviour of men. They more blindly follow bourgeois policies and goals, like those of the EU and many capitalist governments regarding obligatory quotas for women's participation in the organs of the parties, Parliament-EU Parliament, and more generally in the "decision-making centres".

They find it more difficult to understand, even if the demand for electoral rights has been satisfied for men and women from the working class and popular strata, that this remains to a great extent a formal right, or more accurately one subject to the manipulation of capitalist power.

A woman worker, employee, self-employed woman and a woman farmer can utilize the right to be a candidate for election, being used by the bourgeois parties against their own class. Only through their integration-directly or as allies-in the revolutionary labour movement, in the communist party, can they in essence exercise their right in a way that serves the complete social liberation of women.

The bourgeois class in each country understands that it must form a “vanguard” of women from the big bourgeoisie, which will promote its values and ideas, the ideology of the bourgeois class amongst women, concealing the different class interests which divide them. This ideological manipulation has as a result that women from the working class and popular strata more easily forget that Thatcher, Merkel, Clinton, Lagarde are women that played a leading role in polices against women, that women in the boards of directors are often more ruthless than men in the implementation of anti-worker measures, in the non-hiring of women from reproductive age groups, in adopting and propagandizing methods for the "freezing of eggs" so that maternity would not impede a professional career. In periods of prolonged capitalist economic crises, these women played a leading role in disseminating reactionary views about combining work-maternity through forms of wage labour that had reduced rights and salaries. These are the flexible labour relations being promoted by the EU, OECD, the bourgeois governments. They used the issue of the equality between men and women in order to abolish gains such as the lower retirement age for women, the abolition of night shifts and other things, i.e. positive discrimination necessary as regards the female organism.

The crucial issue today is the reduction of the level of the demands, the fear and manipulation that often impact more intensely on the stance of women, the passive stance in relation to the chasm that exists between the reduced demands and the increasing needs.

The reduction of the level of demands is related to the overall retreat of the labour and communist movement since the period of the counterrevolutions and weaknesses in terms of explaining the causes of the victory of the counterrevolution.

Strengthening the Party's ability to provide political guidance

Despite the experience of our party, we consider that there is no place for complacency.

We know that particularly in reactionary periods in the history of social development, it is easy to lose what has been acquired through many years of efforts. And this is related to the participation, promotion, development of women cadres in the party, in KNE, their role in the movements, the ability of communist women to inspire and draw women into the struggle.

Understanding these difficulties, the need arises for a long-term plan to build the CPs in the working class, with the recruitment of women workers and employees, leading women in the sciences and arts.

The experience of our party confirms the need for there to exist a suitable staffed Section of the CC to elaborate the positions and intervention of the party amongst women, to disseminate them amongst the organs and organizations of the party and KNE, in order for communist women to intervene in the organs of the movements.

The Section of the CC of the CP form women’s equality elaborates positions for salaried and self-employed women, farmers, young women on each issue that concerns popular women can have a decisive contribution in the party's efforts to recruit women, to develop bonds with the working class and popular strata, with leading women intellectuals and artists, in the more general development of the bonds of the CP with the people.

Women's participation in sectors with a concentrated labour force in Greece is increasing and often becoming the majority in some sectors. We are referring to the sectors of telecommunications, restaurants-tourism, Food processing/Beverages, financial services, healthcare, education etc. Normally with short-term (for a few months) and part-time contracts. The course of party building and the regroupment of the trade union movement in specific sectors and as a whole depend to an extent on the specialization of our political line for women workers.

The relationship of the KKE with the women's movement

The KKE has long experience of the activity of its women members in mass women's organizations, which spans the most varied conditions of the class struggle.

Over the last 41 years, communist women have been active inside the ranks of the Federation of Greek Women (OGE). OGE makes its own contribution to the organization of thousands of women all over Greece, so that the relationship between women's inequality, the non-satisfaction of their contemporary needs and the issue of capitalist exploitation can be understood.

This is the essence of OGE's radical character, its relations with the class oriented labour unions, its frequent joint activity with PAME, a form of rallying such trade unions, the farmers organizations and other organizations and movements that to various extents are active against the monopolies and their international organizations.

The orientation of OGE, and of course with constant and tireless activity of communist women as members of the associations and groups of OGE, was a decisive factor so that it could withstand the difficult conditions of the retreat of the labour and people's movement, the almost complete dissolution of the "feminist" movement, which in essence just maintains some elite groups and provides cadres for some related institutional bodies of capitalist power.

As communist women, we support the activity of the radical women's movement because we know from our long experience that it helps to activate and mobilize women, to awaken their consciousness. It helps in the activity of a large section of women supporters of the party, as the structure of the trade unions in combination with the difficulties, the way of life in big cities, makes their participation in the functioning of the trade unions difficult.

And in addition, the women's groups and associations in the small towns and villages more easily smash the greatest prejudices, anachronistic remnants and provide a way out from the cultural suffocation.

The conclusion that we have come to is that the radical women's movement is necessary to increase women's participation in the social struggles. It can contribute to their participation in the labour and trade union movement, because it can chiefly contribute to the specialization of demands that respond to the needs of working class women. The same is true for self-employed women, farmers, as well as their joint struggle as part of the people's alliance. The radical women's movement can contribute to educating men from the working class and popular strata.

It is an issue for communist women to understand relationship between the party and the movement, to assist in overcoming concerns like "where should women be organized, in the women's association, the trade union or the party?"

These are different forms of organization that respond to different levels of understanding of the need for struggle-activity, which go hand in hand when they have the right direction and can acquire this only through the activity of communist women, of the communist party, which is the highest form of consciousness and struggle.

We believe that the radical orientation must also permeate the WDIF more, of which OGE is a member. It must express itself more decisively as regards the following:

  • In confronting acts that aim to co-opt the movement into capitalist power.
  • In combating neo-feminist views that with various adaptations reproduce a non-class approach, so-called pluralism, focus on individual rights and detach them from social rights.

Neo-feminism -and others- widely promoted the "Women's March" on Washington. It focused its opposition on Trump and extreme sexist forms of behaviour, comparing all this unfavourably with the Democrat and Afro-American Obama. It concealed the fact that in both cases we are talking about managers working for the interests of the strongest monopolies in the USA, amongst the strongest globally.

The reinforcement of the orientation and influence of the WIDF amongst working women, unemployed women, women from the popular forces all over the world, is a task for the activity of communist women in the women's organizations in their countries. It also depends on the joint activities and interventions at a regional, continental and global level.

In addition, we believe that this orientation can be safeguarded to the extent that communist women contribute to establishing corresponding women's organizations in countries where they do not yet exist.


Our party in 2018 reaches the milestone of its 100 years of uninterrupted existence and activity.

We had already elaborated a 5-year plan at our 19th Congress (2013) for the specialization of our activity amongst women. There were a plethora of events, publications, discussions with the aim of highlighting the process of the acquisition of class political consciousness by women. Such figures were highlighted and honoured: militant working women, farmers, students, scientists, particularly educators, such as Roza Imvrioti. We aim to publish soon the entire 100-year experience of our party on the issue of the struggle against women's inequality, as well as their ideological-political awakening.

We believe in the necessity of the joint activities of the CPs and the specialized work amongst women at every level.

We think that joint efforts can be developed to study the contemporary problems of women, joint activities to inform, enlighten and carry out solidarity with suitable material, joint campaigns on the occasion of historical anniversaries, e.g. 8th of March, the Socialist October Revolution, to denounce imperialist wars, as in Syria, to denounce the imperialist military alliances, like NATO.

The exacerbation of the internal contradictions of capitalism, the intensification of the imperialist antagonisms, the non-satisfaction of the new needs that emerge from the development of science and technology and the productive potential of man, should not leave any room for defeatism.

The communist movement is called on to storm the heavens once again in order to liberate the people from the economic slavery of capitalist society. This liberation is a prerequisite for the economic-ideological-political emancipation of women. It has as its precondition the social and political workers' revolution in order to establish revolutionary workers' power with aim of socialist construction. And on this issue, the analyses and assessments of Marx-Engels-Lenin, as well of other theoretical-political cadres of the revolutionary workers' movement, amongst them Kollontai, have been borne out.

This conclusion has been demonstrated by life itself, by the experience of socialist construction in the Soviet Union, which showed the potential of communist relations, even in the period of their formation and indeed in conditions of struggle against the previous social relations, including the relations between the two sexes, not just capitalist ones but also pre-capitalist relations.

The transition from capitalism to communism, as with every other transition from a lower to a higher socio-economic formation, is not a linear upward course, but a spiral which is permeated with breaks, leaps, even reverses, because for the first time in the history of social development was there the need for such a high level of consciousness and knowledge of the laws of the new (communist) mode of the production.

There needs to be a similar development of the new type of person as the possessor of socially owned means of production, as the bearer and organizer of social production and services, as producer of knowledge-science-arts, culture in general, as a defender of the new against the old in their country, in a group of countries, at a global level.

The level of women's participation in this process is an indicator of the success of the revolutionary process, of the development of the preconditions in order to irreversibly consolidate the victory of communism.

We want to live with a social-political vision, an objectively realistic goal, based on understanding and foresight, because only in this way can human life distinguish itself from animal life, because this is what civilization means.