Following German activist and women’s rights advocate Clara Zetkin’s call to establish a special women’s day at the 1910 Conference of Working Women held in Copenhagen, International Women’s Day was celebrated across Europe the following year in March. On March 8, 1917, thousands of Russian women marched on the streets of Petrograd and demanded the end of World War I that had caused massive food shortages. This was a pivotal demonstration which paved the way for the Russian Revolution and the ousting of the czar.
This significant piece of history is not lost on us as we mark the second week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Anti-war protests have been launched across the globe in the past days. In Russia, Putin has cranked the engine of suppression against activists, resulting in thousands of arrests and assaults of protesters. In an interview with Truthout, renowned intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky said that the “Russian invasion of Ukraine is a major war crime, ranking alongside the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the Hitler-Stalin invasion of Poland in September 1939, to take only two salient examples. It always makes sense to seek explanations, but there is no justification, no extenuation.”
This International Women’s Day, we honor our Ukrainian sisters. We say it loud and clear that we stand in solidarity with the women of Ukraine for their courage and defiance. We stand with those who have taken up arms to defend their country. We see mothers giving birth in bomb shelters. We see their resolve in ensuring the safety of their children. We see those who are doing what they can to resist- from feeding their communities to aiding refugees.
2022 also marks two years of grief and uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing political strife and suffering unleashed by wealthy warmongering governments and authoritarian regimes across borders. We haven’t forgotten the women of Afghanistan, Palestine, Iran, Myanmar, the Philippines, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Chile, and India, just to name a few. We haven’t forgotten the bravery of our sisters who resist and fight militarized patriarchy every single day.
AF3IRM’s anti-imperialist stance is strongly ingrained in the transnational feminist lens we use in bringing attention to the continuous slicing and dicing of land, and pawning of weaker countries by Western and Eastern imperialists. We are unyielding in calling dictators Dictators. We see racism toll across borders. African migrants disparately stopped from fleeing war in the midst of crisis. For transnational black and brown migrant workers and students, being suspended between homes and being exploited as their abilities and skills are used only when needed, is an all too familiar experience.
We are unwavering in exposing and naming the direct impact wars have on women and children. “War and militarization creates and relies on a steady supply of vulnerable women’s bodies,” says Connie Huynh, AF3IRM Chairperson. “Destabilized economies (due to wars) hurt the marginalized. Marginalized women will suffer in particular ways that transform them from people into products. War and military creates a market for women’s bodies by destruction of communities, income, food, making it difficult for people to sustain.”
Women have always fought back in wartime and occupation. We refuse to be mere collaterals in senseless wars that only benefit the military industrial complex established by a small number of men whose claim to fame is their oppression of millions.
And today, we renew our commitment to transnational sisterhood. We say- Down with militarized patriarchy! Down with imperialists no matter which part of the world they attack from! Enough to exploiting and commodifying our bodies! Enough to desecrating our lands! Enough to killing our children! Enough to silencing our voices!
Women have always stood up to despots and their armies. We won’t back down.