French women marched en masse in Paris and other French cities this weekend to protest against austerity. Below is a statement from the organisers
Women standing against austerity: we refuse to carry the can!
Feminists of the Front de Gauche ( Left Front ) are organising, for all women who reject austerity policies, a march of protest and hope. As the days pass, the numbers supporting the march grow. And this is right. For women are suffering the brunt of the crisis in all areas.
A retired women in three lives below the poverty line: the average pension for women is 900 euros (a month), for men it is 1,552 euros. Even though they are more educated, they occupy the lower paid, lower skilled jobs. Salaries of full-time women are 27% lower on average than men and 30% of women work part-time. They constitute the bulk of single parent families. Behind these figures – known to all, and especially the government – hide a human drama.
The change of government revived the hope that other policy options could be implemented. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. The Holland Ayrault government protects the wealthy by continuing and amplifying exemptions of all kinds. Enough is enough! Recent labour reforms are an additional guarantee for employers lobby group MEDEF. They do not make jobs more secure but rather aide dismissals. They will aggravate insecurity and amplify forced part time work. They inflict further damage on the working conditions of women.
How not to scream in anger? How not to denounce, when we are the Left, the terrible cuts that are made to public and social spending? These policies only increase unemployment and recession. The facts are stubborn and unfortunately show this every day: 5 million people on the dole, is it too much to talk about mass unemployment?
A profound and radical change is needed and together we can deliver it. Instead of continuing to distribute generously each year 170 billion euros in state aid to employers, to which must be added 20 billion euros of additional exemptions from social security contributions, the State could use this money to meet popular needs.
There is a real social emergency to respond and it must not be left the Right and extreme Right to take the lead only to impose new sacrifices on people in their communities and workplaces…
To guide the economic system for the satisfaction of social needs, we need real tax reform for a truly progressive income tax, a mobilisation of the banking sector and a change in the role of the European Central Bank.
We demand genuine equal wages and equality at work, and quality public services in health, national education, early childhood, social services, and housing; insecurity to be tackled by banning forced part-time contracts and layoffs by profitable companies; an increase in wages, particularly for the lowest paid, a boost to welfare benefits; and finally, an end to violence against women, achieved by investing both human and financial resources.
…On June 9, we want to further amplify the voice for all women, young, employed, unemployed, pensioners, immigrants, who suffer, in addition to class exploitation, gender discrimination…
On June 9, we want to say loud and clear that it is time to end privilege.
On June 9, we want to create the chances of success of a real, determined policy of the Left…
On June 9, we will walk from the Place du Palais-Royal Republic, to tell the government of Holland and Ayrault: the people of the Left elected you for change now, and not to pursue policies in favour of finance.
On June 9, with the signatories of the appeal “Women standing against austerity: we refuse to carry the can! we will march to transform our lives.
Original Text and signatories here