After the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade and a wave of statewide abortion bans taking effect across the United States, the Albuquerque, New Mexico branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation responded to the need to build a new mass movement for women’s rights. On July 16, the Women’s Socialism Conference brought out more than 150 people for a day of education and discussion on the issues facing working-class women and LGBTQ people.
“We’ve gathered here, spurred by a collective outrage for the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” said Jodi Lopez, a speaker and organizer with the PSL. “We’ve come together today with a shared disgust for the continued and escalating oppression of women in the United States, and with a sense of shared terror for the lives of people in need of abortion services.”
Topics at the Women’s Socialism Conference included “Capitalism, Immigration and Women’s Lives,” “Missing Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives: The Root Causes and the Fight for Justice,” and “Strikes and Unions: Working Women Leading the Way.”
PSL Organizer and educator Karina Garcia delivered a fiery and riveting keynote speech that addressed the American right wing’s efforts to take power through increasingly anti-democratic means. She called for a movement to expand democracy and ensure a future with socialism.
Building a new mass movement
The success of the Women’s Socialism Conference with the community in Albuquerque was made possible by the consistent presence of the Albuquerque PSL as a leader in actions for abortion rights. The party’s message has been made loud and clear: voting blue is not enough. Women’s rights can only be won through organization and mobilization of working-class people. “This is the culmination of us in the streets. Week after week, even before Roe was overturned we were out, we were in the streets,2 and we will continue to be in the streets,” said organizer Nadia Marsh.
A spirit of internationalism was emphasized at the conference. Speakers highlighted advances made for women in Cuba and Venezuela, and the conference received a video message of solidarity from Venezuelan feminist Laura Franco. Speakers also expressed the need for American feminists to join the international movement for abortion access, pointing out recent successes for abortion access in Argentina and Mexico.
The Ni Una Menos (or “Not One Less”) movement, which began in Argentina and spread across Latin America, was raised as an example of highly effective mass action. Through the movement, Latin American feminists have been able to bring broad swaths of society into the fight against femicide and for abortion access. During the discussion period “Abortion Rights: Launching a New Mass Movement,” attendees discussed what tactics of feminists in international and historic movements for abortion rights could be utilized in the current crucial American moment.
Winning socialism for women’s liberation
Organizers and attendees of the conference called for a liberation that could only be made possible under socialism. They called for women to be liberated from poverty, given the economic security and freedom to be independent, educated, and able to make reproductive choices on their own terms.
In one activity, attendees were asked to imagine what their lives could look like if they were guaranteed healthcare, a living wage, childcare and housing. One person responded: “The mother wouldn’t get demeaned for not bringing in as much pay while being expected to perform domestic labor,” and another, “No need to be partnered for the sake of having two incomes.” Another attendee wrote, “I would paint and hike and swim. I would learn languages. I would have all my medicine and a doctor I feel safe with. I’d never have to skip meals.”
The event ended with a feeling of optimism. Many attendees were exposed for the first time to a socialist perspective on women’s issues. The conference provided a comprehensive critique of patriarchy and capitalism, touching on imperialism, abortion access, femicide, labor struggles and legislative attacks on LGBTQ people. The fact that Albuquerque residents responded to a Women’s Socialism Conference with the engagement and enthusiasm that they did is proof that people are ready to learn about socialism and to join the movement for a socialist transformation of society.