Introduction to The New Rise of the Women’s Movement

Dianne Feeley

March 31, 2021

The document, “The New Rise of the Women’s Movement,” outlines recent developments in feminist mobilization internationally and sees a new wave of struggle ahead. As a result of these experiences, a diverse movement is developing new forms of mass participation and new discussions over what women need for our emancipation. Written by the Fourth International Women’s Commission and adopted by the FI at its February 2021 International Committee, the document summarizes features of the capitalist crises as they impose themselves on women: precariousness, cutbacks in public services, a rise in right-wing religious fundamentalism, the growth of an international supply chain and the emerging pandemic. These features endanger women in several ways.

The Women’s Commission is made up of organizational representatives from different countries. It attempts to summarize the women’s movement and its demands in its ebbs and flows. As it reports on events and mobilizations, the Commission seeks to discover communalities and analyze developing trends and consciousness. It prepares conferences, drafts resolutions and encourages feminist work in its component organizations.

Recently there have been massive mobilizations around reproductive rights in a number of countries, and most stunningly in Poland and Argentina. A second series of mobilizations around sexual violence at home, in school, in sports, in the workplace and in the streets has erupted on several continents. Women have also led popular mobilizations around Black Lives Matter and struggles for land, we have led workers’ strikes and opposed destruction of the environment in Ecuador, Brazil, India, Canada, the United States, Germany and South Africa. Today women are challenging capitalism’s many-headed crises with demands for an economic and political system that prioritizes justice.

The document quickly reviews the previous period’s international encuentros (confernces) with their demands, proposals and coordinated days of action and goes on to discuss the specifics of the current movement. It raises the idea that “the feminist strike” has the potential to become a powerful new tool.

The resolution notes that each new generation of women produces its own “grammar.” It takes up new debates — or circles back to enrich old ones – developing or refining its theory along with new forms of expression. The document analyzes these changes from the vantage point of a socialist feminism tradition deeply rooted in the idea of women’s self-organization; It is neither based on biological determinism nor “lean-in” corporate feminism. Given that this seems to be the opening of a new feminist wave, the resolution is less concerned with demands and more interested in the development of vibrant collective action. It does recognize two recent theoretical contributions – anti-capitalist ecofeminism and social reproduction theory, along with the older concept of intersectionality — as helpful in explaining the alienation and oppression capitalism imposes on women. Finally, the resolution ends with a call for continuing revolutionary analysis and deepening international coordination.

The New Rise of the Women’s Movement

Background reading:

The first full-length resolution, “Socialist Revolution and the Struggle for Women’s Liberation,” was written during the second wave of the women’s movement and adopted at the 9th FI World Congress in 1979. It is available here:

https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article1586

At the 11th FI World Congress, “Latin Amera: Dynamics of mass movements and feminist currents,” was adopted in 1991. It is available here:

https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article142

Also voted on at that 11th FI World Congress was the document, “Positive action and partybuilding among women,” which is available here:

https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article143

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