People’s War Report,
Semi-weekly report on today’s people’s wars, their conditions and the perspectives they give us
Produced by The Red Flag
Disclaimer: We apologize and self-criticize for the renewed delay of the People’s War Report and want to reaffirm that we are dedicated to finally getting it on its proper time schedule.
„For Marxism, women, as much as men, are but a set of social relations, historically adapted and changing as a function of the changes of society in its development process. Woman then is a social product, and her transformation demands the transformation of society.”Central Committee of the Communist Party of Peru: „Marxism, Mariátegui and the Women’s Movement”, April 1975
„From remote times, the representatives of all the movements of liberation in western Europe, not for decades, but during centuries, proposed the abolition of these antiquated laws and demanded the legal equality of women and men, but no democratic European State, not even the most advanced republics, have managed to achieve this, because wherever capitalism exists, wherever private ownership of the factories is maintained, wherever the power of capital is maintained, men go on enjoying privileges.
From the first months of its existence, Soviet Power, as the Power of workers, realized the most decisive and radical legislative change with respect to women. In the Soviet Republic no stone was left unturned which kept women in a position of dependence. I am referring precisely to those laws which used the dependent situation of women in a special way, making her victim of the inequality of rights and often even of humiliations, that is to say laws on divorce, on natural children and on the right of women to sue the father in court to support the child.” [our emphasis]V. I. Lenin (taken from „Marxism, Mariátegui and the Women’s Movement”)
„We say that the emancipation of workers must be the work of the workers themselves and likewise THE EMANCIPATION OF WOMEN WORKERS MUST BE THE WORK OF WOMEN WORKERS THEMSELVES.“dito
Feminism has been at the centre of social, political and cultural issues in imperialist countries for well over a decade now. No one will have missed companies trying to up their female employee quota, #metoo, gender-inclusive language, more female representation in media or a female politician being inaugurated as „the first woman to ever occupy this or that post of government”.
Now I doubt that I’m the only one out there who has observed one of these topics being pushed and thought „…why should I care?” Not because sexism isn’t horrible and sexual abusers shouldn’t get their kneecaps broken. But what are three women sitting on Switzerland’s federal council gonna change about us having to force ourselves out of bed every day to get to work and having abusive boyfriends and relatives? If it had any influence, surely we’d have felt it by now, right?
By contrast, headlines of the past few months have been full of reports of women’s rights going to shit since the Taliban conquered all of Afghanistan and expelled the US and its allied forces from the country. You’ll read a lot of tear-jerking statements exclaiming: „How could the US abandon Afghani women like that?!” No doubt, the Taliban are a bunch of patriarchal landlord pigs and my heart goes out to all the oppressed female masses in Afghanistan. But let’s look at this a bit more solemnly. News like these are frequently coming from US-backed sources and what’s being advocated is basically „please reinvade Afghanistan for the feminist cause”. Then let’s remind ourselves that the US waged war against the country for twenty years and had people in the country giving some upper-class women civil rights and access to education, but in all that time no independent women’s movement capable of struggling against oppression was formed. Of course the US wouldn’t do that — they themselves are oppressors through and through — but in any case, the news question should be reformulated to: „How cynical is it that the US invaders constructed a women’s movement focused only on the upper classes that was completely dependent on their domination of Afghanistan, only for them to bathe in public opinion of being ‘failed saviors’ now that they’ve lost the war?!”
To answer the question we’ve all asked ourselves before: Actually, yes, we should care. But only to the extent of understanding and condemning that we are being led in circles by the ruling class and that in order to put an end to working overtime and wife-beating dads, we need to take the capitalist system that’s keeping things this way head-on for the sake of ending exploitation and oppression altogether.
This report’s goal is to show with concrete examples how women’s emancipation and the fight against patriarchy (which sexism is a part of) is being tackled in the world’s people’s wars, how the progress achieved there is miles ahead of the civil rights we sometimes enjoy here and how bourgeois feminists can shove their condescending „pity” for globally oppressed women up their asses.
A brief explanation of the economic conditions of oppressed countries
Even though Burma, India and the Philippines are all different in many ways, they are subject to the same economic and political conditions. It’s important to look at these because it gives us insight into what the lives of our class relatives are like on the other side of the world, contrast them to our conditions and thus better learn from the lessons of the people’s wars being waged there.
The three countries mentioned above all have a feudal base. To give a short explanation: Feudal peasants are, just as it was in the medieval ages in Europa, hardly more than slaves. They have plot of land, be it small or medium-sized, that they cultivate. The land, however, belongs to a landlord with loyal armed force, the gentry, by his side. Every year, peasants are forced to hand over a large chunk of their harvests to the landlord or fear punishment. A poor peasant life is a life of hunger and misery. In all three countries, the largest social class of each country is the peasant class.
In conditions of feudal exploitation and oppression, women are relegated to a life as housewives and child-bearers, married off by their families at a young age and fully economically dependent on their husbands. „Women developed their lives completely submitted to the feudal lord, although protected by the laws „as property of man and mother of children“; her value increases with fertility, being worth triple the value of a free man, a value she loses when she can no longer bear offspring: woman is a reproductive womb.”1 Peasant women are taught to bow their heads, be submissive and never speak up or choose a life of their own; otherwise, they may become victims of vicious patriarchal violence in the household or in public. For European readers, the infamous „witch trials” of the past centuries should ring a bell, the last one of which took place in Switzerland with the murder of Anna Göldi in 1782. Women can also simply be expelled from their families and are forced to live a life as prostitutes in order to get by.
But third-world countries are today not fully feudal anymore, but semi-feudal. Feudalism still prevails, but there also exists capitalism. This capitalism did not however develop independently like in Europe in the 1800s, but is an imperialist-imported capitalism. Its sole purpose is establishing industrial production in order to ship away all the megaprofits back to whichever company or state invested in it from abroad, assisted by a local state that has been bought through and through by the very same foreign oppressors. This additionally makes these countries semi-colonies; they may not be militarily occupied colonies and have formal political independence, but the economy is still fully dominated by the foreign imperialist investors and their puppets.
Working women in the countries where people’s wars are being waged today are therefore not just oppressed as workers/peasants and as women like here, they also are oppressed as part of a nation that suffers under the imperialists’ boot. Concretely, semi-colonial oppression brings with it all the patriarchal customs, habits and beauty standards of the imported imperialist culture. Women and girls frequently become the victims of sexual violence and killings by exploiter army members, whether domestic or foreign. My heart also goes out to every single woman out there who is enslaved by the disgusting human trafficking business that is ‘sex tourism’.
An anecdote of MAKIBAKA, the women’s organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines, describes revolutionary political action against semi-feudal and semi-colonial women’s oppression alike. The first action that MAKIBAKA organized after its founding in 1969. A picket was organized in front of the building hosting the „Binibining Pilipinas” beauty pageant. Women from various youth organizations attended. The picket denounced the two female beauty ideals represented at the pageant: The submissive figure of „Maria Clara” rooted in the days of Spanish colonialism which the feudal gender role for women and the traditional Western imperialist oversexualized ideal. The pageant was denounced with slogans such as „down with the commercialization of sex!” and „stop treating women as sex objects!”. It became the first militant all-women action and the first action around a women-specific matter in the history of the ongoing Filipino revolution.
Burma’s female workers and their perspective
Burma has a population of 54,5 million, of which about 52% are women. Economically, it has a strong feudal base: About 70% of the population are peasants.
According to a United Nations census from 2017, working women (peasants or workers) in Burma account for 51.3% of the female population, while working men account for 79.9% of the male population.2 It doesn’t elaborate more than this, but further research concludes that in the industrial sector, women in fact make up the majority of workers.3
In 1975, the Communist Party of Peru (CPP), which during its high times in the people’s war it led in the ’80s and ’90s had a woman’s participation rate of about 60%, wrote:
„The development of capitalism will incorporate women into labor, providing the basis and conditions for her to develop; that way, with their incorporation into the productive process, women will have the chance of more directly joining the class struggle and combative action. Capitalism carried out the bourgeois revolutions and in this forge, the female masses, especially working women, advanced.
Throughout the 19th Century, with their increasing incorporation into the productive process, women continued to develop their struggle for their own demands joining the workers’ unions and revolutionary movements of the proletariat. An example of this participation was Louise Michel, a fighter at the Paris Commune of 1871. But the women‘s movement in general oriented itself towards suffragism, to the struggle to get the right to vote for women, in pursuit of the false idea that in getting the vote and parliamentary positions their rights would be respected; that way feminist actions were channeled towards parliamentary cretinism. However it is good to remember that the vote was not achieved for free but that during the last century and the start of this century women fought openly and determinedly to get it. The struggle for the feminine vote and its achievement show once more that, while this indeed was a conquest, it is not the means allowing a genuine transformation of the condition of women.
In conclusion, through the economic incorporation of women, capitalism set the basis for their economic autonomy; but capitalism by itself is not capable of giving formal legal equality to women; in no way can it emancipate them; this has been proven throughout the history of the bourgeoisie, a class which even in its most advanced revolution, the French Revolution of the 18th Century, could not go further than a merely formal declaration of rights. Further on, the later development of the bourgeois revolutionary processes and the 20th Century show not only that the bourgeoisie is incapable emancipating the masses of women, but with the development of imperialism the bourgeois concept as regards the feminine condition becomes more reactionary as time goes on and in fact confirms the social, economic, political and ideological oppression of women, even if it disguises and paints it in myriad ways.”Central Committee of the Communist Party of Peru: „Marxism, Mariátegui and the Women’s Movement”, April 1975
We find proof of capitalism setting the basis for women’s basic autonomy and drawing us into the class struggle in an account of the garment industry in Burma:
„Since President Thein Sein’s reformist government lifted a draconian, junta-era ban on labor unions two years ago, thousands of women in Burma’s predominantly female industrial workforce have begun to organize themselves; walking out of workplaces, striking, and demanding changes to their working conditions.
According to Ministry of Labor, 959 Basic Labor Organizations have been set up since unions were legalized, and the Department of Labor Records has recorded 447 garment worker strikes between 2012 and 2014. In a country with a patriarchal culture historically weighted in favor of men, the newly emerging labor movement seems to have placed socio-economic power in the hands of a growing number of female laborers.
According to Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association, women account for 90 percent of the workforce in Burma’s garment industry, a sector that is expected to expand through foreign investment by international garment manufacturers in the coming years. The sector already makes up 44 percent of Rangoon’s total industrial output, according to Myanmar’s Department of Labor Records.
The Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association estimates that around 200,000 people work in garment factories. The typical garment worker is female and on average 24 years old, works six days a week and 13 hours per day, and earns about US$80 per month, according to a report by the Labour Rights Clinic.”https://www.irrawaddy.com/features/rising-power-burmas-womens-workforce.html
Due to ruling class propaganda, we are inclined to believe that the main thing that has changed for us in the past centuries in imperialist countries is that we have equal civil rights. This is wrong. Civil rights can be taken away at any moment and focusing on them condemns us to begging for help from the very state that props up capitalism and patriarchy if our rights are violated. Universal suffrage was conquered, true — but no parliament will free us, it can only enable a few women to leave our side and become part of the exploiters. It was bourgeois women that led the struggle for suffrage after all.
The main thing is that we have become workers. Of course patriarchy is still here. it won’t leave until we’ve smashed its root, private property. But we aren’t fully economically dependent on men anymore, so we can independently join the collective struggle of the workers against all the capitalist crimes we have had to endure.
Burma’s garment workers are striking for economic demands. We mustn’t stop here either, however, because the existing order needs patriarchy to rule; if we don’t go further and topple it, our oppression will bite back twice as hard in a few years or decades.
The basic programme of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) puts forward:
„6. THE SOCIAL SYSTEM THAT SHALL BE ESTABLISHED BY THE REVOLUTION
Differentiation of men and women, suppression of women must be destroyed. By raising educational and economic powers of the women, we must raise the status of women.”Central Committee of the Communist Party of Burma: „Basic Programme of the Communist Party of Burma”, 1951
The point is not to fight for a wad of paper that formally proclaims our equal rights and only really benefits capitalist women. We must emancipate ourselves through revolution! In this fight, it’s not about empty declarations, but concretely educating and economically strengthening — and arming — the women members the people (not the enemy exploiter class) as part of the people as a whole wherever the new state holds power. This will in turn produce more of us fighting for revolutionary emancipation that can do the same for others, and the process repeats.
On India, the PLGA and selfless struggle
Revolution isn’t a game. We don’t get to retry if the enemy catches us, that’s just the way life and death work. If we’re going to fight for our freedom, the point will come where we have to take up arms and slowly but surely suffocate this miserable system in gunpowder smoke. This applies to here just as much as it does to all oppressed countries.
In countries like Switzerland, we don’t just have ruling class members proclaiming their „feminism” of voting rights and career paths. We also have a great deal of people who reduce patriarchy to the infringement of a woman’s individual freedom and personal choices and feminism to a fight for these things. Consciously or not, they try to convince us that it’s our individual that matters most and that it’s not class against class, but men, women and queer people all against each other. Yes, we should collectively struggle, but only because it’s a convenient way to obtain all of our individual freedom. The extremes of this current are the pro-„sex work” activists: They frame prostitution as a business like any other that women mostly freely choose to be in and simply suffer very bad „working” conditions. For such small-bourgeois feminists, putting your individual in the background for the sake of fighting for women’s emancipation as a whole and accepting all the hardships and discipline this demands sounds like a horror movie. They celebrate the Yankee-led fighters of the YPJ because it’s an all-women militia, but reject the people’s wars because communists lead them, which are apparently all men because the largest communist leaders of the past all happened to be (which isn’t even true as the next chapter will prove). We must have none of this. As I said before, we are workers, we can never negate where our oppression is coming from and that our male coworker that says „bitch” as an exclamation will forever have more in common with us than Michelle Obama and is on our side against her and her fellow bourgeois. We must be revolutionary worker’s feminists — proletarian feminists.
Contrasting to the confusion mentioned before, the people’s war in India is a glorious role-model of women’s participation and — if need be — self-sacrifice for the cause of all working women and in the end, all of humanity. Last Report, we wrote about the Naxalbari uprising as the roots of today’s Communist Party of India (Maoist). Some of the first people to fall on our side were seven women and a child of one of them, gunned down by police on the 25th of May 1967. This is no coincidence, for as was mentioned before, violent state repression always targets women (and queers) especially hard as part of instilling terror and fear back into the hearts of the people. Does that mean we should return to the sidelines and let the men do the job? … I hope nobody just thought „yes”. The revolution can’t succeed without us. As a hugely popular communist slogan from the 1960s says: „Women hold up half the sky!”
Today, we see more woman than ever being drawn into the Indian people’s revolutionary struggle, especially into the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA); for gender equality in the liberated areas of the new state is a concrete reality. A report from 2019 about Adivasi women (an ethnic minority in India) in the Dandakaranya region and their militant participation in the people’s war tells us:
„As the people’s war (PW) strengthens the women’s resistance becomes more and more militant. There are increasing instances and it has become an important component of the PW. Young women increasingly join the PLGA while elderly women recruit their children. The number of women members reached a little above half of the force.
The people of Dandakaranya (DK) have the rich tradition of struggle starting from the anti-British movement [Britain was India’s last colonizer — our remark]. There were struggles all over the present area of the DK Special Guerilla Zone. Now the men and the women are well aware that they have nothing to lose but chains through struggle. The women’s organisation achieved considerable change in the age old patriarchal customs regarding women, their role in production, property and marriage. They broke the custom that does not allow women to sow and harvest, achieved equal right to land, equal wages and marriage out of their wish. They are part of not only the women’s organisation, but also the peasant organisation, the people’s government, militia and all kinds of people’s organisations and struggles. They lead and participate in the revolutionary days, struggles on problems, in the anti-displacement struggles, land leveling program of the Janathana Sarkar and in the implementation of the calls of the Party like boycott of elections. In contrast to the bourgeois ‘empowerment’ they are genuinely empowered in the people’s government. They have a militant and inspiring role in advancing the People’s War. As the repressive offensives came forth women became more and more enlightened and we see a rise in their political understanding and military outlook. Women took up fight against both the exploitation and oppression on them and state violence in general and specifically on them.” [Our emphasis]People’s March magazine, Vol. 14, 02.08.2019
For drawing inspiration from the stories of female revolutionaries who gave their lives for our future, we reproduce two volumes of a project of the CPI(M) titled „Women Martyrs” that preserves the memory and strength of countless stories of martyred women, be they activists, fighters or party members.
Lorie Barros, Panchadi Nirmala and why we need women leaders
It is not enough for us to fight in support of the revolution on the street or take up arms to destroy the old state and set up a new one. Revolution doesn’t just demand supporters and participators, but more than anything else, it demands leaders, or we will be led astray back into serving the old order or be organizationally crushed by its repression. This is why among the reasons why we need a communist party. But what kind of party, what kind of revolution would it be if the best of us didn’t rise up the party ranks to serve the revolution as best we can, just as is the case with men? What would we have if women didn’t also lead the way and inspire others? The answer is easy: The revolution would fail, for there is not a single justified reason against women leaders. If a party says it’s revolutionary but actively prevents women good at and capable of leading from becoming leaders, it’s sabotaging the formation of the best possible vanguard, is therefore not the vanguard itself, but defends its patriarchal predjudices and cannot call itself a revolutionary party.
In the history of the Philippine people’s war, we find one figure early on that has inspired generations of Filipina revolutionaries after her and will continue to do so: Maria Lorena ‚Lorie’ Barros.
Born in 1948 in Baguio City and growing up there, she experienced inequality and oppression from the very beginning of her life. She enrolled into the University of the Philippines in the mid 1960s at the start of fascist president Ferdinand Marcos’s decade-long reign and in the midst of social unrest due to this. Among the daily agenda points of the increasingly suffering and politicized masses were rising tuition fees, unfair work conditions, the Vietnam war and police brutality. Lorie became a student activist the Democratic Youth Association in 1969, participated in rallies and toured the country to meet peasants and striking workers. Now highly politicized, she joined more and more female voices calling for increased political participation of women under the slogan „women hold up half the sky”. It was thus that Lorie became a mass leader in the Filipino revolution for being at the head of the founding of the first woman-led group focusing on patriarchal women’s oppression.
This group was MAKIBAKA, which led the above-mentioned mass action against the beauty pageant and has continued fighting and uniting Filipina masses up until this day.
Of course, class society and patriarchy has filled all of our brains, male, female or queer, with a huge load of garbage ideas, attitudes and ways of acting. It came as no surprise that the struggle for women’s emancipation included and still includes fighting patriarchal ideas, positions and even actions coming from male comrades and colleagues for MAKIBAKA. The group managed to clearly demarcate their line from „western-important” feminism; namely that women suffered social and economic (triple) oppression under Filipino semifeudal, semicolonial and bureaucrat-capitalist society. Women’s emancipation had to spring not from new ideas, but new material conditions brought about by revolution. To quote Lorie herself:
„The new woman, the new Filipina, is first and foremost a militant… And since in the cities, participation in protest marches means not only marching but also dodging police truncheons, evading precinct produced molotovs… expertise is hitting the ground whenever and whatever pig force starts firing… the new Filipina is one who has learned… to carry herself in these situations with sufficient ease and aplomb to convince the male comrades that they need not take care of her, please.
…The new Filipina is one who can stay whole days and nights with striking workers, learning from them the social realities which her bourgeois education has kept from her… More important this means she has convinced her parents of the seriousness of her commitment to the workers and peasants cause… a commitment which requires all sorts of behavior previously way beyond the bounds of respectable womanhood… She is a woman who has discovered the exalting realm of responsibility, a woman fully engaged in the making of history… No longer is she a woman-for-marriage, but more and more a woman-for-action.”
After Marcos declared martial law in 1972 and criminalized all organizations connected to the Filipino revolution that he could (including MAKIBAKA), Lorie was among many that kept organizing underground. After escaping political imprisonment, she joined the New People’s Army, the military wing of the Filipino revolution led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPPh). On March 24th, 1972, Lories location was tipped off to the military and she was tragically murdered by soldiers after her gun jammed and she couldn’t shoot them to get away.
I have no doubt about it that Lorie would have become a high-ranking leader in the CPPh if she hadn’t been gunned down by the military’s dogs 45 years ago.
A woman that occupies a similar place in the memory of an oppressed people is Comrade Panchadi Nirmala from India’s Andhra Pradesh region.
„Comrade Nirmala was born in a poor peasant family in the village of Kavali of Palakonda taluq, Srikakulam district As was the norm in those days she married at an young age. Her husband Comrade Panchadi Krishnamurti worked in the CPI and then in CPI (M). When CPM also chose to get bogged down in the parliamentary pig sty [see the previous People’s War Report — our remark], revolutionaries came out of the party with the determination to carry on the armed struggle. Krishnamurthy was one of them. Later he became a leader of the Srikakulam movement and guided it. As his wife, she proved to be a companion par excellence. With a little bit of help from him, she got educated and enormously improved her political understanding. She did not stop at that and implemented in practice whatever she learnt. In our society it is still thought that a woman should serve her family and not take part in political activities. It was even more so then.
After their family settled in Boddapadu village, she immediately mingled with the local peasant women and they were inspired by her presence. She used to move around the village to enlighten the common folk not only of class politics, but also of various facets of social life including healthcare. Since Krishnamurthy had the responsibility of coordinating the whole movement, he could not stay for a long time in Boddapadu. Nirmala took it in her stride and dedicated herself to the task of mobilizing the plain area people. The peasant women of the area really got attached to her. Nirmala joined the ‘Tegimpu Sangam’ (Daring Oraganization) formed by Com. Tamada Ganapathy in Boddapadu village. The young men and women members of this sangam did physical exercises to improve their physique and also learnt how to resist the enemy. Nirmala took such training too.
When the call for the struggle for the liberation of peasants was given, she immediately joined it, with a baby on her shoulder. One day, when they were approaching their camp on a hill, the baby began to cry. Panchadi Krishnamurti indicated that the noise emenating from the child would help the enemy to locate the whereabouts of the squad. She had to try hard to pacify the baby. Later he explained to her how the Vietnamese women joined in the struggle leaving their children. Niramla, who was apprehensive of being discharged from the squad was highly relieved. She sent her child to her relatives the very next day. The feudal patriarchal society puts the responsibility of child rearing solely on the mother. But Nirmala shattered those role models to fulfill her due role in the transformation of the society.
Even as her life was inseparably getting entwined with the revolutionary movement, Krishnamurthy was killed by the police in an encounter. Nirmala was completely shaken and enraged on hearing about the martyrdom of Comrade Krishnamurti. She was advised and requested by the party, to be with her children for a while. But her husband’s glorious martyrdom gave her a new awareness and inspiration. She could not stay back. Leaving her children, she immediately joined the squad. Within a few days she became the commander of the squad.
Under her leadership many heroic struggles erupted within a few days.
A landlord of Bathupuram in Uddanam area exploited people with liquor trade and usury. He used to give very less coolie rates to the labourers working in his fields. He perpetuated sexual atrocities on women and tortured those who questioned him. Four to five hundred people mobilized under the leadership of Nirmala and annihilated him. His lands and property were seized by the people and loan deeds were all burnt.
When private bus owners behaved obscenely with women, Nirmala stopped the buses and made them apologize to the women. Many more actions took place under her. In all these struggles she mobilized the support of the people and ensured their participation. After every action she gave speeches to the people explaining the motive behind it. Due to this people could own the actions done by the sangam. From this we can understand the relationship between the sangam and the people and the way it strived to increase the participation of the people.
It was Nirmala everywhere. Her name inspired many oppressed people to join the squads. Poor peasant women also joined the squads in large numbers. The police gangs could not contain the initiative of her squads. So poor peasant women joined the squads in considerable numbers.
The police went mad at the very mention of her name and tried to capture her by hounding her squad. They wanted to kill her at any cost. On December 22, 1969, the squad had stopped in a village while on their way to a party conference. They were travelling from plain areas to the forest area. In the hills of Rangametia, the police surrounded Comrades Nirmala, Ankamma, Saraswati along with comrades Panigrahi, Ramesh Chandra Sahu, Tamada Chinababu and shot them after seriously torturing them. An informer had informed the police about their whereabouts.
Comrade Nirmala stayed undaunted when she was tortured by the enemy. Her courage, valour, her initiative and sagacity in the liberation struggle stands an example not only for the women of Andhra, but of India. All the women comrades who join the revolution since then look up to her for inspiration and each one of them considers herself a revolutionary heir of Nirmala. Nirmala is the most common name taken by women comrades who join the revolutionary movement. Many revolutionary couples and sympathizers named their daughters after her. Such is the legend of Com. Panchadi Nirmala. Whether it was in leading the party, army or mass organizations, in ensuring people’s participation, in leaving behind her children, continuing the work of her husband even after his martyrdom with great determination or in facing the enemy torture Nirmala had set the highest standards for all communists to follow and especially for the women comrades. The name of Nirmala would live forever in the hearts of the oppressed and expoited people of India.”
This narration was taken directly from Vol. 1 of „Woman Martyrs”; Nirmala’s full story and those of many leader figures, such as that of Comrade Padmakka, as well as other martyrs can be read there.
The point I’m trying to make is summarized nicely in „Marxism, Mariátegui and the Women’s Movement”, the CPP document I’ve quoted multiple times in this Report and an essential work :
„When capitalism massively incorporates women into the economic process, it wrest them away from inside of the home, to attract them mostly to factory exploitation, making industrial workers out of them; that way women are forged and developed as an integral part of the most advanced and latest class in history; women initiate their radical process of politicization through their incorporation into the labor union struggle (the great change implied by this is observed concretely in our country by the transformation seen in women workers, peasants and teachers of Peru, amidst the union struggle). A woman arrives at more advanced forms of organization, which goes on building her up and shaping her ideologically for the proletarian concepts, and finally she arrives at superior forms of struggle and political organization by incorporating herself, through her best representatives, into the ranks of the Party of the working class, to serve the people in all forms and fronts of struggle organized and led by the working class through its political vanguard.”
Among the peaks of this process of our sex integrating into the general revolutionary cause and the communist party that leads it are:
— Louise Michel of the Paris Commune,
— Nadezhda Krupskaya of the Russian Revolution,
— Rosa Luxemburg, co-founder of the Communist Party of Germany, deliberately targeted and murdered by the old German state,
— Liu Hu-lan, martyr of the Chinese Revolution,
— Chiang Ching, Chairwoman of the Chinese Communist Party,
— Maria Lorena „Lorie” Barros, mass leader, fighter and martyr of the Philippine revolution,
— Comrade Panchadi Nirmala, revolutionary squad leader, martyr of the Indian revolution and a household name in India’s Andhra Pradesh region,
— Edith Lagos, fighter and martyr of the Peruvian revolution
— and Comrade Norah, second-in-command of the Communist Party of Peru and also martyr of the Peruvian Revolution.
The history of Switzerland’s communist and labor movement has produced one of the highest examples of why we need women leaders: Her name was Leonie Kascher, the founder of the Communist Party of Switzerland (CPS) and a resolute propagator of the armed path to revolution. The manifesto of this country’s CP was drafted by her behind bars in 1918 as she was waiting to get exiled by the state for being an uncompromising revolutionary.
All these women are of course not „great individuals” that became leaders for some divine once-in-a-century traits that nature bestowed upon them. They all got to their respective positions through a long process of struggle and experience obtained from all the countless women and people in general fighting for putting an end to our class-based suffering. We should look to them and not bow our heads or cry out in awe, but take inspiration from their successes and learn from their mistakes — or they would have fought for nothing. The reactionaries like to say „behind every great man, there is a great woman”. We must answer with „behind every great revolutionary, there is a sea of revolutionary masses, comprised of all sexes and genders, but united in struggle; and if your ‚great woman’ is a bougie or a cop, she will go down with the rest of you one day!”
KITCHEN, MARRIAGE, FATHERLAND — DOWN WITH IT IS OUR DEMAND!4
OUR MARTYRS, THEY WILL NEVER DIE — WOMEN HOLD UP HALF THE SKY!
1 Central Committee of the Communist Party of Peru: „Marxism, Mariátegui and the Women’s Movement”, April 1975
4 The first part of this slogan was used by Nazi Germany as guidance for what „Aryan” women should focus on in life.