“The right to resist.” A feminist manifesto

The Feminist Initiative Group

July 14, 2022

We, feminists from Ukraine, call on feminists around the world to stand in solidarity with the resistance movement of the Ukrainian people against the predatory, imperialist war unleashed by the Russian Federation. War narratives often portray women* as victims. However, in reality, women* also play a key role in resistance movements, both at the frontline and on the home front: from Algeria to Vietnam, from Syria to Palestine, from Kurdistan to Ukraine.

The authors of the Feminist Resistance Against War manifesto deny Ukrainian women* this right to resistance, which constitutes a basic act of self-defense of the oppressed. In contrast, we view feminist solidarity as a political practice which must listen to the voices of those directly affected by imperialist aggression. Feminist solidarity must defend women’s* right to independently determine their needs, political goals, and strategies for achieving them. Ukrainian feminists were struggling against systemic discrimination, patriarchy, racism, and capitalist exploitation long before the present moment. We conducted and will continue to conduct this struggle both during war and in peacetime. However, the Russian invasion is forcing us to focus on the general defense effort of Ukrainian society: the fight for survival, for basic rights and freedoms, for political self-determination. We call for an informed assessment of a specific situation instead of abstract geopolitical analysis which ignores the historical, social and political context. Abstract pacifism which condemns all sides taking part in the war leads to irresponsible solutions in practice. We insist on the essential difference between violence as a means of oppression and as a legitimate means of self-defense.

The Russian aggression undermines the achievements of Ukrainian feminists in the struggle against political and social oppression. In the occupied territories, the Russian army uses mass rape and other forms of gender-based violence as a military strategy. The establishment of the Russian regime in these territories poses the threat of criminalizing LGBTIQ+ people and decriminalizing domestic violence. Throughout Ukraine, the problem of domestic violence is becoming more acute. Vast destruction of civilian infrastructure, threats to the environmental, inflation, shortages, and population displacement endanger social reproduction. The war intensifies gendered division of labor, further shifting the work of social reproduction – in especially difficult and precarious conditions – onto women. Rising unemployment and the neoliberal government’s attack on labor rights continue to exacerbate social problems. Fleeing from the war, many women* are forced to leave the country, and find themselves in a vulnerable position due to barriers to housing, social infrastructure, stable income, and medical services (including contraception and abortion). They are also at risk of getting trapped into sex trafficking.

We call on feminists from around the world to support our struggle. We demand:

– the right to self-determination, protection of life and fundamental freedoms, and the right to self-defense (including armed) for the Ukrainian people – as well as for other peoples facing imperialist aggression;

– a just peace, based on the self-determination of the Ukrainian people, both in the territories controlled by Ukraine and its temporarily occupied territories, in which the interests of workers, women, LGBTIQ+ people, ethnic minorities and other oppressed and discriminated groups will be taken into account;

– international justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the imperialist wars of the Russian Federation and other countries;

– effective security guarantees for Ukraine and effective mechanisms to prevent further wars, aggression, escalation of conflicts in the region and in the world;

– freedom of movement, protection and social security for all refugees and internally displaced persons irrespective of origin;

– protection and expansion of labor rights, opposition to exploitation and super exploitation, and democratization of industrial relations;

– prioritization of the sphere of social reproduction (kindergartens, schools, medical institutions, social support, etc.) in the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war;

– cancellation of Ukraine’s foreign debt (and that of other countries of the global periphery) for post-war reconstruction and prevention of further austerity policies;

– protection against gender-based violence and guaranteed effective implementation of the Istanbul Convention;

– respect for the rights and empowerment of LGBTIQ+ people, national minorities, people with disabilities and other discriminated groups;

– implementation of the reproductive rights of girls and women, including the universal rights to sex education, medical services, medicine, contraception, and abortion;

– guaranteed visibility for and recognition of women’s active role in the anti-imperialist struggle;

– inclusion of women in all social processes and decision-making, both during war and in peacetime, on equal terms with men;

Today, Russian imperialism threatens the existence of Ukrainian society and affects the entire world. Our common fight against it requires shared principles and global support. We call for feminist solidarity and action to protect human lives as well as rights, social justice, freedom, and security.

We stand for the right to resist.

If Ukrainian society lays down its arms, there will be no Ukrainian society.

If Russia lays down its arms, the war will end.

Solidarity is a signatory to the manifesto. Please visit the Commons site to see the other signatories to the manifesto. We encourage you to sign the manifesto.

Comments
  • Dianne M. Feeley says:

    I think this interview with Ukrainian socialist feminist Viktoria Pihul was excellent in talking about the real problems and possibilities in Ukraine today: https://againstthecurrent.org/interview-with-ukrainian-feminist-our-goal-is-to-win-this-war/

  • Elizabeth Fattah says:

    You need to hold the US and NATO accountable. They don’t care about women or any Ukrainians. In fact, they have become cannon fodder. We can still hold Putin accountable, but we need an end to this senseless killing.

  • Rebecca Turner says:

    “protection against gender-based violence” is a fine ideal. Interpersonal violence of all kinds is to be deplored. However, how is that goal to be achieved? Has it not been achieved through lack of will on the part of states? Does it require hiring more police and building more prisons?

    I would like to know a great deal more about how The Feminist Initiative Group of Ukraine wants this to happen.

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