It’s now almost common to hear people say that the Coalition government’s cuts will hit women the hardest.
Unfortunately, it’s common because it’s true.
From public sector job cuts, of which two thirds will hit women, to attacks on benefits, to the trashing of what remains of domestic violence provision, women are at the sharp end of the Tories’ class war.
What’s true for working-class and poor women in general is also true for most student women.
We already take significantly longer to pay off student debt due to career breaks and childcare. The tripling of university tuition fees will make that situation worse.
Women students and teachers are concentrated in humanities and social sciences, which are seeing their budgets virtually abolished.
Student women have every reason to fight back. And we have done, playing a magnificent role in the student struggles last year. Look at the pictures of the protests between November and January, and you will see hundreds of the young women who organised school and college walk outs over the proposed abolition of Education Maintenance Allowance. You will see women organisers from the university occupations, which gave the movement its backbone.
The sweeping of a new layer of women activists into the movement challenged the traditional male domination of the student left — but it did not overcome it.
This term we need to build on our achievements of last academic year. We need to remake the student movement in the midst of the fightback against a new wave of attacks on education.
As we approach the 30 November pensions strike by the major unions — which will be the biggest ever strike of women workers in Britain — the need to build a fighting student women’s movement alongside it becomes more urgent.
Women students in the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL) were at the heart of the movement last year, and we plan to be again this year.
We helped establish National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts Women; now we want to build it into a big and vibrant student women’s campaign with supporters all over the country.
We want that movement to be inspired by the core principles of socialist feminism — the idea that the fight for women’s liberation is inseparable from the fight against the Tories, their cuts and their capitalist system.
If you agree, get in touch and work with us!
What you can do:
Come to our conference on 26 November and bring other women from your college and university. We will be discussing the challenges facing women today and organise for action by learning from inspirational women’s struggles from the past. There will be a student organising caucus at the event.
We are organising a speaker tour in the run-up to the conference. We would love to come and speak at your women’s group, anti-cuts group or any other meeting — please invite us!
Get involved in your university or college anti-cuts group, or if there isn’t one, set one up. Mobilise for the student demonstration on 9 November and the day of action alongside the 30 November strike. You can get help from the NCAFC — see www.anticuts.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Build links between the women’s group and anti-cuts groups on campus. You could also consider setting up a Women Against the Cuts group within your anti-cuts group — as women at Hull and Royal Holloway have done.
Get involved in NUS Women’s Campaign. We are building a left caucus in the campaign to help transform it into the democratic, fighting, class struggle feminist campaign that student women need.
For more information about any of these activities, or to get involved, contact us.
• Email: women@workersliberty
• Tel: 07883 520852