Women's Fightback, Feminism

Women's Fightback: More services, fewer jails!

The government has announced a £150m plan to create 500 new prison places for women. It says that the extra places are needed because an extra 20,000 police officers will lead to more female arrests. Prisons are filled with people whose lives have been made especially difficult by the brutality of capitalism: the poor, the homeless, those with mental health and addiction, those who experience racism. Two-thirds of women in prison are survivors of domestic abuse. Over half experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse during their childhood. Coercive and abusive relationships can serve to...

"Modern slavery": grandstanding vs helping workers organise

Emily Kenway is a former adviser to the UK’s first Anti-Slavery Commissioner and the author of The Truth About Modern Slavery (Pluto Press, 2021). She spoke to George Wheeler for Solidarity. (The book is reviewed here.) Can you explain a little of what the book is about, and why you wrote it? The book is about how modern slavery is a particular narrative about exploitation, constructed largely by philanthrocapitalists, anti-sex work activists and anti-migrant politicians. It shows how calling exploitation “modern slavery”, and all that this entails, suggests a moral crusade but undermines the...

Strajk! An interview with Ewa Pospieszynska

On 27th January, a near-total ban on abortion came into effect across Poland, three months after a ruling by the country ’s constitutional court. Poland already had one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, but the new law - which removed severe foetal abnormalities from the list of exemptions - was seen as totemic, and part of a more generalised assault by the ruling Law and Justice Party (or PiS - short for Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) against Poland’s democratic institutions and minorities. In response to it, over the course of October and November, gigantic demonstrations gripped the...

Life under lockdown

For years, Workers’ Liberty has been talking about ‘social reproduction’, a term that covers all sorts of domestic labour, such as caring for people, keeping workers fed and fit for work and bringing children into the world. This work carries little status because it has traditionally been performed by women for free in the home. In the world of paid employment, so-called ‘women’s work’, such as caring and cleaning, has also been notoriously undervalued and underpaid. Despite its low status, this work is essential for society and for the capitalist economy. Before the pandemic, a lot of it was...

Cut the working week

The shorter working week should be a central demand for the ’new normal’ in post-pandemic recovery. So it’s fortuitous timing for the publication of The Case for a Four Day Week , written by Anna Coote, Aidan Harper and Alfie Stirling. It argues that reduced working time is good for human well-being, for the natural environment and for building a prosperous economy and aims to provide a roadmap for a transition from today’s standard five day/35-hour work week towards four days or 30-hours as the new norm. The eight-hour day Throughout human history, economic affairs have dominated human life...

Discrimination on the Tube

An excerpt from an interview with Becky Crocker, Workers' Liberty and RMT activist When Ada, my daughter, was nearly two, I had a miscarriage. On the day I got back to work, they presented me with a case conference notification letter. The case conference process is designed for people with long-term health conditions that mean they are unable to do their job. Working in many of the jobs on London Underground requires doing certain things. You’re supposed to evacuate a station in an emergency; to be able to go down the track. So there’s a very small number of people who, for whatever reason...

Women of the Poplar rebellion

Our story is set just after the first world war in Poplar, an east London borough with a population of 160,000 people crammed into the docklands in the bend of the River Thames (Poplar) and the area just north of it (Bow). It was an impoverished and exclusively working-class area, which had suffered greatly during the ‘Great War’. Working-class women juggled low-waged work with domestic chores, contending with overcrowded housing, unsanitary conditions, fatherless children and war-wounded husbands and sons. They had fought against profiteering companies, government stinginess and for the vote...

More green space

Exceptional times, like those that we are living through, often highlight the shortcomings in our society. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many, from the chronic underfunding of our health service to the inability to care for the most vulnerable amongst us. We have also seen the shutting down of green spaces, particularly in cities, on the grounds that people should simply stay home. This is straightforwardly a class issue. Those with higher incomes are far more likely to live in houses with access to gardens, whilst those on lower incomes are more likely to live in flats with no gardens or...

Can Biden kill off Trumpism?

In his first few hours as US President Joe Biden put the US on the path to re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organisation, stopped building the Mexico border wall, made mask-wearing mandatory on federal property, announced an end to the ban on trans people serving in the military, cancelled permits for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, strengthened the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, added gender-neutral pronoun options to the online White House contact form, and enacted a number of other measures that would gladden the heart of any liberal or leftist...

Solidarity with the Uyghur people

The Uyghurs, a majority-Muslim people who mostly live in East Turkestan, are facing persecution and genocide at the hands of the Chinese State. More than a million people are interned in camps, where torture, abuse and rape are reported to be taking place. China’s propaganda has stepped up following a series of news stories internationally about their treatment of the Uyghur population. State media recently released a series of short films subtitled in English, titled Embracing a New Life, featuring Uyghur women narrating, in Mandarin Chinese, their “empowering” experiences after “re-education...

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