Chantier Politique

March 8, 2017

English Edition, No. 7

Long live March 8, 2017 - International Women's Day!

Fight for Modern Arrangements
that Humanize Society!

Long live March 8, 2017 - International Women's Day!
Fight for Modern Arrangements that Humanize Society!
- Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec
Women's Struggle to Affirm Their Rights Confronts Obsolescent Institutions
- Christine Dandenault
On the Condition of Women and Girls


Long live March 8, 2017 - International Women's Day!

Fight for Modern Arrangements
that Humanize Society!

The Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec salutes March 8th, International Women's Day, fully confident in the success of the struggle of women to create the necessary and modern arrangements to humanize society. In Quebec rallies, marches and meetings are being held within the framework of the activities of March 8, 2017, both as a public expression of their demands and aspirations for a human society befitting of all human beings as well as to determine together how to move forward.

Throughout 2016, women have been at the forefront of the struggles against nation-wrecking, including the destruction of the health care system, education and child care services imposed by the Couillard government, either as workers or as recipients of such services. Furthermore, opposition to violence against women, particularly Indigenous women in Val-d'Or and young women in Quebec, has found expression in the many demsonstrations organized by women in 2016. Women are demanding an end to state violence, that those who commit crimes against women be punished, and that old colonial methods be rejected.

Quebec women workers and their peers have bravely and resolutely fought the offensive against their working and living conditions and attacks on their pension plans, imposed through legislation and decrees that protect the agenda of the oligopolies. They face a power that is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a government executive, which dictates their fate through the use of decrees, special laws and measures that criminalize workers and their right to defend themselves, even through the law.

Following the shooting at the mosque in Quebec City, with one voice women, men, youth and families from all walks of life condemned the attempt to divide or discriminate against people on a racist, sexist, or religious basis. They also denounced the use of violence, whether by unstable individuals or by the State. They reject discrimination, which women are a target of, on the basis of what people wear, their beliefs and whether or not they come from a so-called rogue state and called for the defence of the rights of all, as one humanity. They also reject the attempts of those very same leaders who no more than six months ago campaigned against "radical islamism" and are now campaigning "against islamophobia."

During the election of Trump in the U.S., Quebec women, side by side with women in the U.S. and worldwide, expressed their opposition to the war agenda and the attacks on rights that the presidency represents.  It was in that manner that they expressed their consciousness of the end of "business as usual" and the need to organize their resistance within the new situation.

Within these battles, women are saying "no", "not in our name", "no to destruction and austerity", "no to individual or state violence", "no to war and aggression." However, increasingly they are confronted by institutions and powers that block women from exercising their rights. International Women's Day takes on even greater meaning within a context where the entire movement for the affirmation of rights is aware of the need to look into how to wage the struggle within the present conditions.

Governance imposed by a tiny elite is proving itself incapable of establishing a political process that would enable citizens to truly participate in the sorting out of society’s problems as a right that belongs to them. The division of the Quebec polity is always invoked to hide the fact that the National Assembly is unable to renew itself by creating mechanisms where people have direct control over decisions that are made. That is why people are being attacked, why it is claimed that they are racist, that those who are newly arrived refuse to integrate and that the youth must be spied upon to prevent them from becoming "radicalized."   What blocks us is the fact that women and their allies have no control over any of the discussion or issues that concern them. They struggle, resist and ardently make their claims upon the society that they are entitled to by right: as human beings in order to be able to exercise their humanity, and as women in order to exercise their womanhood, as minority women, as Indigenous woman, etc. These are specific rights that could be affirmed in the struggle in defence of the rights of all, on the basis of modern definitions. The new is struggling to be born within extremely difficult conditions, under renewed forms, while taking into account the new conditions of impunity, regression and police powers. It is a tribute to women not to give up and to persist in sorting out the problems that they and the society face.

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Women's Struggle to Affirm Their Rights
Confronts Obsolescent Institutions

The theme given for International Women's Day 2017 by Status of Women Canada is Equality Matters. The logic advanced to explain the theme is that "Gender stereotypes hold us all back." Changing this "starts with changing attitudes and behaviours" and among the proposed activities to change behaviours are to tweet as much as possible with the hashtag #EqualityMatters, or to "plan a fundraising event at your workplace or school for a charity that works with women or works to advance women's rights."

International Women's Day has been celebrated for 106 years. It represents the struggle of the women of all countries to free themselves from the old world of exploitation of persons by persons and to create a new world.

The distortion of International Women's Day by the Trudeau government and Status of Women Canada is another illustration of how the so-called democratic institutions they represent are an obstacle to the affirmation of women's demands. Women and their collectives are putting forward concrete proposals to make equality for women a fact of life -- investing in health care, education and other social programs and guaranteeing wages and working conditions that allow women and families to live and work in dignity. They call for a profound change in the direction of the economy so that it serves, first and foremost, the needs of human beings and is no longer under the control of the rich and the oligopolies.

The federal government and Status of Women Canada call for women to embrace the current orientation of the economy towards paying the rich because "[companies] with 30 percent female leaders could add up to 6 percentage points to its net profit margin." Status of Women adds that "having a more diverse corporate board of directors may lead to stronger financial performance for companies." This echoes Prime Minister Trudeau's emphasis, along with U.S. President Trump, on encouraging women to become members of corporate boards of directors and take up other elite leadership positions.

In Quebec, the Council for the Status of Women announced via its website that it held a dinner-exchange on March 7 with the U.S. Consul General. It informs that girls aged 14 to 17 were chosen to meet influential women from various backgrounds (artistic, political, scientific, etc.) and ask these women questions about their lives and passions and be inspired by their success. This is a provocative message from the Quebec government to the millions of women who participated in the actions of women in the United States against the swearing-in of President Trump and the thousands who did so in Quebec and Canada.

The demands of women today are to humanize society. Institutions of the society are responsible for creating the arrangements to facilitate this. The so-called democratic institutions in Canada and Quebec fail to do so and serve an agenda at odds with the needs of women who struggle for a society organized to provide for the needs of all its members.

For example, the government of Quebec could have decided to meet with the Consul General of Cuba in order to learn about the role of Cuban women in bringing about the victories of the Cuban people and their political and economic system against the U.S. blockade, as well as the experience of Cuban women and their achievements in the fight to eliminate illiteracy and guarantee health care and education for all. Instead, giving credence to the Trump presidency's attitude towards women demonstrates that the Quebec government, like the federal government, has a different agenda for women and girls. They are following the U.S. lead to promote Trump "Power Women" to mobilize them for the financial oligarchy and U.S. imperialist war.

The struggle for the affirmation of women's rights remains one of the most important problems confronting society. It is intimately linked to the emancipation of the working class. The so-called democratic institutions and the anachronistic political process marginalize women from decision-making on all the issues that concern them, and an issue second to none is for women to stand in the front ranks of the leadership of society. Renewing these institutions and the political process to achieve this is the problem put forward for solution.

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On the Condition of Women and Girls

Women have always been at the forefront of the struggle for rights and to open society's path to progress. This struggle is inextricably linked to the people's fight to exercise control over their lives and take up society's problems for solution. Below are some recent data on the conditions of women and girls.

Education and Work

Even in 2017, women's wages are on average 30 percent lower than men's. This disparity is reflected on several levels. According to the Statistical Report of the Council for the Status of Women published in May 2016, women without a high school diploma working full time earn 69.8 percent of the median salary of men in the same situation.

For all levels of education, while women are now slightly more likely than men to have a high school diploma -- 78.1 percent of women versus 77.5 percent of men -- their salary is lower. When they have a diploma, they earn up to 80 percent of that of male graduates.

With a university degree, women's employment rate is 81.5 percent, compared to 83.4 percent for men. With a college diploma, this rate is 78.3 percent for women versus 81.0 percent for men. The employment rate for women without a college diploma is only 38.3 percent, compared to 52.3 percent for men in the same situation.

For immigrant women, higher education does not improve their participation in the labour market as much. The employment rate for immigrant women with a university degree is 69.1 percent, compared to 78.5 percent for men in the same situation.

Sexual Exploitation of Children in Quebec

A study by the Montreal Health and Social Services Agency, conducted between July 2008 and May 2009 among 610 youth aged 14 years and over in 6 youth centres, reveals that 25.1 percent of girls and 7.2 percent of boys sheltered in such facilities have already received money or goods in exchange for sex.

Amongst the youth who participated in this study, 9.1 percent of girls and 1.2 percent of boys reported dancing in an "erotic bar" at least once in their lives.

Just over one-quarter of these youth, 27.3 percent of girls and 100 percent of boys, experienced their first dance episode in an "erotic bar" before the age of 14.

According to the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women (CACSW), in 2012, Canadian women involved in prostitution had a mortality rate 40 times higher than other women.

According to the Council on the Status of Women, more than 80 percent of prostitutes in Canada entered prostitution while they were minors. The age of entry into prostitution is between 14 and 15 years old in Canada.

Illiteracy

In 2016, as many as 53 percent of Quebeckers aged 16 to 65 are considered functional illiterates.

Only 11 percent of Quebeckers are able to summarize information from long and complex texts or to judge the reliability of sources during a web search.

It is estimated that 19 percent of Quebeckers cannot read or write. This means that more than half of the Quebec population does not have the necessary level to function easily in an increasingly complex society running at the exponential rate of cyberspace.

Over one million Quebecers between the ages of 16 and 65 are poorly literate.

There are five levels of literacy. At the first level people have difficulty reading, or even decoding simple words or phrases. At the second level, readers cannot vary their readings. They are limited to reading simple texts by restricting themselves to making simple deductions, and at best, distinguishing the essential and the superfluous in a text. At the third level, people reach the minimum threshold required to obtain a high school diploma and hold a job. Finally, at levels four and five, people are able to deal with diverse and complex information.

In 2013, 27,000 Canadians, including more than 5,000 Quebeckers, participated in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Survey of Adult Skills. Based on this survey, the Quebec Literacy Foundation estimated that 4 percent of Quebeckers did not attain the first level of competence.

Fifteen percent of those studied attained level 1 and 34 percent reached level 2. This means that there are more than one million people aged 16 to 65 who have difficulty mastering and dealing with diversified and complex information. In an economy that relies on entrepreneurship, professional services, innovation, research and development many people are excluded and marginalized.

The results reveal that in Quebec, 4.1 percent of adults have not attained level 1 and 14.9 percent are at level 1 for a total of 19 percent; 34.3 percent are at level 2, while 46.8 percent are at levels 3, 4 and 5.

One in three (34.3 percent) Quebeckers are likely to find themselves in a situation where their ability to read is related to the presence of facilitating conditions or non-complex written environments. In 2003, 32.9 percent of respondents were at this level.

Fewer than one in two people (46.8 percent) in Quebec is likely to demonstrate proficiency in literacy skills that enables them to read in order to learn, understand, act or intervene independently. In 2003, 51.1 percent of respondents were at this level.

Quebec Household Debt

Among those with debts, the average debt of Quebec households doubled between 2000 and 2015. By age group, the increase was felt more strongly by those under 35, with a 2.5-fold increase over 15 years. The average debt of households under 35 years of age was $125,000 in 2015, 56 percent higher than the overall average, at $80,000.

Poverty in Quebec

According to recent data from the Collective for a Poverty Free Quebec, out of ten people working at the minimum wage, six are women. Women earn on average $2.55 an hour less than men. At retirement, women aged 65 and over have only 59 percent of the income of men of the same age.

Single Parent Families: 33 percent of single parent families headed by women live in poverty, whereas when men are at the head 14 percent are in a situation of poverty.

66 percent of First Nations women have annual incomes below $10,000.

The unemployment rate is 4 times higher among recent immigrant women (5 years and less) than among Canadian-born women.

Women are further penalized by the Couillard government's anti-social offensive with reduced health care, education and child care services, user-fee increases, and so on.

Food Insecurity

Food insecurity in Quebec is a serious problem. Too many people suffer from food insecurity and no one is immune.

According to 2016-2017 data, Quebec food banks receive more than 1,800,000 requests for food. Quebec has a population of 8.215 million people.

More than 400,000 people in Quebec, including 150,000 children do not eat enough. Quebec's food aid agencies have recorded a 34.5 percent increase since the last recession in 2008.

A total of 372,064 food baskets and 1,426,546 meals and snacks are served per month to hungry Quebeckers. Twelve percent of monthly applicants are first-time users.

Nearly half of the households receiving assistance in the past year were families with children.

Due to a lack of food, 5.6 percent of food assistance organizations had to close early or not open some days between 2015 and 2016.

Of those receiving food bank assistance, 10.8 percent have incomes that fall below the cost of living.

According to HungerCount 2016, 137,000 people, including 47,000 children between the ages of 0 and 17 (23 percent of beneficiaries), receive food aid every month through aid agencies.

Statistics on Sexual Assault in Quebec

Five percent of sex crimes are reported to the police (JURISTAT, 2014) and three sexual assault complaints out of 1000 result in a conviction (JURISTAT, 2014).

96.8 percent of offenders are male (Sécurité publique, 2013) and 78.1 percent of victims are women (Sécurité publique, 2013).

Two-thirds of victims are under 18 (Sécurité publique, 2013).

The majority of victims (85.6 percent of minors and 68.3 percent of adults) know the alleged perpetrator. (Sécurité publique, 2013)

Quebec Sexual Assault Help Centres
Data and Aid Requests

Similarly, sexual assault against women and girls is also a serious problem that society must solve. Again, looking at the situation in Quebec as an example, acccording to statistics compiled by Quebec's Sexual Assault Help Centres (CALACS) for the year 2014-2015:

- 76.3 percent of requests for help at the centres are related to incest or sexual assault in childhood or adolescence;

- almost 42 percent of women wait 13 years and more before seeking help -- shame, guilt and fear associated with sexual violence can keep victims silent for a very long time;

- more than 47.5 percent of women who come to the centres are 30 years of age and older;

- 96.8 percent of aggressors are known to victims;

- 87 percent of sexual assaults are committed in a private home;

- 39 percent of sexual assaults are committed in a home that the victim shares with the perpetrator; 16 percent in the victim's home; 22 percent in the abuser's home; 6.3 percent in a public place or school; 4 percent at work; and 1.4 percent on the transit system;

- more than 27 percent of women and adolescent girls seek help from a CALACS within one year of being assaulted.

In 2014-2015, the centres received 1,850 requests for assistance. Eighty percent of these requests came from women and adolescent girls who were calling for the first time. Individual meetings represent 80 percent of the hours of service and group meetings 20 percent. Interventions include individual follow-ups, group follow-ups, legal or medical support, support for relatives and referrals.

Sources:
Table des responsables de l'éducation des adultes et de la formation professionnelle des commissions scolaires du Québec (TRÉAQFP)
Huffington post, septembre 2016
Collective for a Poverty Free Quebec
Conseil du statut de la femme
Fédération des maisons d'hébergement pour femmes
Des clés pour comprendre la littératie en 2014 : comment parvenir à une meilleure interprétation des résultats du PEICA en matière de littératie, Institut de coopération pour l'éducation des adultes, Hervé Dignard, juin 2014
Campaign 2000 Report
Food Banks of Quebec

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All Out for March 8, International Women's Day!

Demonstration
"Celebrate Women's Resistance" 


Montreal
March 8

Rally 5:00 pm

Place du 6 décembre
(corner of Reine Marie and Côte-des-neiges) Metro Côte-des-neiges

Facebook

Quebec City
March 12
Rally 10:30 am

Pavillon Alphonse-Desjardins
(2325 rue de l'Université)
For information call: 418-622-2620


Click here here for complete list of actions in Quebec


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