Claudia Jones- International Women's Day and the Struggle for Peace (1950)

International Women’s Day and the Struggle for Peace

Written by Claudia Jones in 1950

Women in the Struggle For Peace and Security

On International Women’s Day this year, millions of women in the world-wide camp of peace headed by the mighty land of Socialism will muster their united forces to make March 8, 1950, a day of demonstrative struggle for peace, freedom and women’s rights. 

In our own land, there will be over fifty celebrations. On New York’s Lower East Side, original site of this historic American-born day of struggle for equal rights for women, and in major industrial states, such as Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, broad united-front meetings of women for peace will be held. “Save the Peace!” “Halt Production of the A-Bomb!” “Negotiate with the Soviet Union to Outlaw Atomic Weapons!” — these are the slogans of women in the USA on International Women’s Day.

The Struggle for Peace

The special significance of this holiday this year, its particular meaning for labour progressives, Communists and for American working women generally, is to be found in the widespread condemnation, among numerous sections of the American people, of Truman’s cold blooded order to produce the hydrogen bomb and to inaugurate a suicidal atomic and hydrogen weapon race. 

Not to the liking of the imperialist ideologists of the “American Century” is the growing indication by millions of American women of their opposition to war, their ardent desire for peace, their rejection of the Truman-Bipartisan war policy. 

As in the Protestant women’s groups, many women’s organizations are opposed to the North Atlantic war pact, which spells misery for the masses of American women and their families. This development coincides with the policy stand of progressive women’s organizations that have been outspoken in demands for peaceful negotiations of differences with the Soviet Union, for the outlawing of atomic weapons, for ending the cold war. 

Typical of the shocked reaction to Truman’s order for H-bomb production was the statement of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom demanding that Secretary of State Dean Acheson “make clear by action as well as by words that the United States desires negotiations and agreement” with the Soviet Union. This is necessary, the statement added, to avoid “bringing down upon this nation the condemnation of the world.” This organization also expressed its opposition to Acheson’s suggestion for the resumption of diplomatic relations between UN members and Franco-Spain, as well as to the proposed extension of the peace-time draft law. 

These and other expressions of opposition to the Adminstration’s H-bomb policy by notable women’s organizations and leaders merge with the significant grass-roots united-front peace activities developing in many communities. For example, in Boston, as a result of a “Save the Peace — Outlaw the A-Bomb” peace ballot circulated last November, a permanent, broad united-front women’s organization, “Minute Women For Peace,” has been established. In that city within ten days, over 6.000 women from church, trade-union, fraternal, Negro, civic and middle-class-led women’s organizations signed peace ballots urging outlawing of the A-Bomb. In Philadelphia, a Women’s  Committee For Peace has addressed to President Truman a ballot to “Outlaw the H-Bomb — Vote for Peace.” Similar developments have taken place in Pasadena and Chicago. The wide response of women of all political opinions to these ballots is but an index of the readiness of American women to challenge the monstrous Truman-Acheson doctrine that war is inevitable. Emulation of these developments in other cities, particularly among working class and negro women is cetinly the order of the day. 

Indicative of the determination of women, not only to register their peace sentiments, but to fight for peace, is the coalescing on a community basis, following such balloting, of women’s peace committees. The orientation of these committees is to convene women’s peace conferences, in alliance with the general peace movement now developing. 

The widespread peace sentiments, particularly of the women and the youth in their millions, must be organized and given direction and effective, militant expression. This is necessary, since the monopolist rulers are doing everything possible to deceive the people and to paralyze their will to fight for peace. Particularly insidious agents of the war-makers are the Social-Democracy and reformist labour leaders, the reactionary Roman Catholic hierarchy and the American agents of the fascist Tito gang of imperialist spies, whose main task is to confuse, split and undermine the peace camp. 

Hence, a fundamental condition for rallying the masses of American women into the peace camp is to free them from the influence of the agents of imperialism and to arouse their sense of internationalism with millions upon millions of their sisters the world over; to protest the repressive and death-dealing measures carried through against the countless women victims by Wall Street’s puppets in Mashallized Italy, in fascist Greece and Spain; to link them in solidarity with the anti imperialist women, united, 80 million strong in 59 lands in the Women’s International Democratic Federation, who are in the front ranks of the struggle for peace and democracy. 

In these lands, anti-fascist women collect millions of signatures for the outlawing of the A-bomb, against the Marshall Plan and the Atlantic war pact, for world disarmament, etc. In the German Democratic Republic, five million signatures were collected by women for outlawing the A-bomb. In Italy, the Union of Italian Women collected more than 2 million such signatures for presentation to the De Gasperi government. In France, women conducted demonstrations when bodies of dead French soldiers were returned to their shores as a result of the Marshall-Plan-financed war of their own government against the heroic Vietnamese. In Africa, women barricaded the roads with their bodies to prevent their men from being carted away as prisoners in a militant strike struggle charged with slogans of anti-colonialism and peace. And who can measure the capitalist fear of emulation by American Negro and white women of these peace struggles, particularly of the women of China (as reflected in the All-Asian Women’s Conference held last December in Peking), whose feudal bonds were severed forever as a result of the major victory of the Chinese people’s revolution?

These and other significant anti-imperialist advances, achieved in united-front-struggle, should serve to inspire the growing struggles of American women and heighten their consciousness of the need for militant united-front campaigns around the burning demands of the day, against monopoly oppression, against war and fascism. 

More from this Writer

“To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean, making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends on them; that if we stagnate it is their responsibility, and that if we go forward it is due to them too, that there is no such thing as a demiurge, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people themselves and the magic hands are finally only the hands of the people.”
― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth