On March 11, over 100 people gathered at the Artists Space in New York City to join the fight for women’s liberation in the Trump era. The Women Resist conference, organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, was an inspiring day of workshops, panels, and speakers, highlighting the importance of women’s leadership and participation in every movement against oppression.
The conference followed the first weeks of the Trump presidency, which saw serious attacks on groups including trans people, immigrants, and women. It is important to highlight that these attacks have not gone unchecked. As organizer Karla Reyes noted, the people refuse to be intimidated by the Trump oligarchy — “and when it came to women, he hit a rock.” The conference served as a building block in the growing mass movement against Trump.
Opening speaker Kerbie Joseph, a New York organizer for the PSL, reminded the audience of the essential role women have played in struggles throughout history. She urged the audience to recognize the often-forgotten women who mentored great revolutionaries, sustained organizations, and demanded revolution when conditions became unacceptable. These women leaders teach us that everyone has a place in the revolutionary struggle.
Gloria La Riva, the PSL’s 2016 presidential candidate, followed Joseph to speak about the recent socialist resurgence in the United States. The conference itself reflected that resurgence: La Riva happily noted that most attendees were new faces to her, including many young people.
La Riva’s speech emphasized the importance of socialists building consciousness in their communities. As wealth inequality continues to grow rapidly, socialists don’t have to describe the contradictions of capitalism to working class people. People experience these contradictions every day when they are criminalized and exploited by their employers and by the state. La Riva said that a socialist’s role is to explain the true source of these contradictions to their communities and to show the people how to take back power.
Only socialism can provide solutions for the problems the working class faces, La Riva continued, and people from many different struggles are realizing this and uniting to fight the capitalist state.
Several workshop sessions took place throughout the day. Political discussions on racism and sexism, women’s oppression, and combating identity politics pushed attendees to understand that exploitation based on race, gender, and other identities cannot be eliminated under a capitalist system. Skills workshops covered public speaking, organizing and “knowing your rights” with ICE and the police. Each workshop emphasized the important, leading role women must take in organizing and defending their communities.
A final Q&A panel allowed attendees to hear from four revolutionary women organizers from around the country. The panelists—Daisy Bugarin, Elizabeth Estrada, Yasmina Mrabet, and Shaniqua Pippen—came from backgrounds in healthcare, immigration, teaching, and anti-imperialist organizing. They all agreed that fighting oppression must go beyond the fight against Trump. Each leader noted how liberal reforms always fall short from meeting the needs of their communities.
The discussion covered different tactics of community resistance, but all panelists focused on meeting working class people where they are at, and combating the alienation that prevents working people from taking action. As Mrabet said, “there is only one way for the movement to go, and that’s left; there is only one color the movement can be, and that’s red.”
Karina Garcia, a prominent New York activist and organizer for the PSL, closed the conference, focusing on the way forward. She reiterated that the root of working class struggle goes far beyond Trump, emphasizing that the very foundations of the United States favor private property over all but an elite few of its citizens. Trump makes our political reality more obvious — if we lived in a democracy, our struggles for healthcare, indigenous rights, and immigrant rights would have been over long ago, Garcia pointed out. Instead, those in the fight for liberation must look to history to organize against the imperialist, capitalist state; and as Garcia stated, “Whenever I see people trying to get free — those are socialists.”
The Women Resist conference was a day for welcoming new faces to the movement against Trump and the unrestrained capitalism he now presides over. Between sessions, people mingled and ate, and their conversations reflected a rising sense of revolutionary action from people of all backgrounds. Mass training and education events like Saturday’s conference are vital in building a mass movement independent from the Democratic party that will never take a chance on the working class. The love of revolutionary women drives them to struggle for their people, and as Kerbie Joseph made clear: “No matter how you organize, if you don’t support women’s liberation, you are an enemy to the struggle.” We look forward to struggling shoulder to shoulder with the hundred plus women who attended and the millions of others struggling across the U.S. and the world!