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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Women's Day: Women Committee of the United Labour Congress (ULC) March in Lagos

Women Committee of the United Labour Congress (ULC)
International Women's Day march organized by the women committee of the United Labour Congress (ULC) in pictures below.
The boisterous and lively march took off from NUPENG secretariat at Jibowu Yaba and ended at the NUEE Secretariat at Herbert Macaulay way.

My take away from the march, which was more of a carnival, was ULC president Joe Ajaero's response to women's demand for a female president by 2019. According to him, while this is desirable however charity must begin at home. Even in d unions dat are expected to stand for women, women are relegated to the background such that female-dominated unions like the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) have never produced female union presidents.
To me, this statement from a member of the labour aristocracy is unfortunately correct but it is not an indictment of women workers, even though that appeared to be Ajaero's intention, but of the labour bureaucracies who have successfully alienated both rank-and-file male and female workers from active involvement and participation in the unions through the killing of democracy in the unions as well as the successful replacement of historical labour militancy with so-called responsible unionism - a false theory favoured by the labour bureaucracy which posits the possibility of peaceful coexistence and cooperation between capital and labour. The result of this completely erroneous idea are the rotten compromises, lack of initiative and the complete inability to envision the possibility of an alternative system different to capitalism that has become the defining feature of the labour movement in Nigeria and beyond.
Women Committee of the United Labour Congress (ULC)

As we marched along the road with everyone gyrating to drumbeats and different rhythm bellowing from trumpets, I couldnt help thinking of d generation of women who originated the idea of a women's day. These were the militant Petrogad female textile workers whose strikes and militant marches starting on 8th March 1917 (23 February according to the old Russian calendar) detonated the 1917 Russian revolution which in October of the same year led to the coming to power of the working class headed by the Bolshevik party - the most revolutionary working class party in history and the most conscious of the oppression of women and the fact that the socialist revolution cannot be complete until women are free.

The achievement of the young workers state in Russia at the time were tremendous especially in lifting women out of the shadows into which they were hitherto condemned by class society and Tsarism. The right to vote, right to education, abortion right, equality between the sexes, ease of divorce, equal pay for equal work, communal kitchens and laundries, participation in political life were some of these accomplishments which at the time were yet to be achieved by some of the most advanced capitalist countries then. However the rise of Stalinism, made possible by the war of intervention and the defeat of workers revolutions in Germany and other countries, undermined these progress. As a privileged bureaucratic caste milking the proceeds of the planned economy, Stalinism just like Tsarism abhored the liberation of women and instead wanted women to know their place and be submissive to men. Stalinism position on women, just as its position on economy, politics, class struggle and every other thing, has nothing to do with the genuine ideas of socialism as represented by Lenin's Bolshevik party and defended by Leon Trotsky.

As we mark the centenary of the 1917 Russian revolution this year, it is important to note that the lessons of the revolution are relevant and indeed invaluable both for today's struggle against oppression of women in the home, school, community and workplace and the struggle to overthrow capitalism.

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