In the north of Cyprus, women are being exploited twice by the ruling system both at home and in the work place, like anywhere on earth today. While working overlong hours with very low salaries lacking social security in the private sector, women are also expected to fulfil several roles which are still considered as gender duties like domestic responsibilities including cleaning, looking after children and elders of the family.
Neoliberal policies like privatisation and subcontracting, are producing a disprised, vulnerable women labour and increasing impoverishment which is making it really hard for women to maintain their lives and increasing their economic dependence. Trade Unions in the north, are unfortunately failing to support women working in the private sector and they seem to single out women’s struggle out of labour struggle which actually have interlaced roots. They enclose female union members into gender equality commitees which alienate women from labour struggle, showing us that the unions are not even close to support female workers to fight for their rights.
Government and the employers are walking arm in arm. Governing bodies do not only provide the employers with political ease but they also impose laws for employers’ benefits which enable them better(!) exploit women. Government which is supposed to serve the community is serving employers but somehow restrain from taking precautions to prevent violence against women which are a part of the community! There are no women’s asylum for violated women and no will to construct one. Women are left to bare the houses where they are violated everyday.
Conservative policies are becoming more concentrated. Turkish government -Turkey- is imposing Sunni Islam to the north of the island and supporting reactionist groups and ideas. These groups and ideas gaining strength, jeopardise women’s freedoms. In contrary, coconspirator governments in the north, are doing nothing against these but making way for building up more mosques and Kur’an courses for children, which is affecting the sociocultural structure of Turkish Cypriots.
The nationalist parties UBP and DP, doesn’t have any intention to do anything for women as expected. Even an MP from one of these parties clearly stated that they do not have something like building a women’s asylum in their programme. CTP, boasting for being equalitarian, didn’t do any improvement for women’s good either! Although one of their women MPs, talked about building an asylum they didn’t do it too; neither in their own time nor when they are in opposition. And what is more, CTP removed women’s attrition right, which is a backbraking practice ruining their equalitarian image.
Having respect towards the socialist heritage of Clara Zetkin who declared March 8 as International Women’s Day after a factory fire in which female labourers died, we as Independence Path, have to pave our own way against privatisation, employers, coconspirator governments in the north and Turkish government’s economic, cultural and religious impositions, to free women and women labour. We will be on the streets of four cities –Nicosia, Famagusta, Morphou and Kyrenia- to claim unions for the people in private sector once again and raise our voice against neoliberalism, religous obscurantism, sexism and homophobia.
With these aims, we will be attending the march in Famagusta at 4.30pm as a component of “March 8 Organisators”. We will be infront of Kyrenia district governorate at 5.30pm to raise our claim for a women’s asylum. We will meet at Morphou bus terminal at 6.30pm to march the first March 8 of the city. And we will be in Nicosia, despite the groups who are trying to dominate March 8; despite those who think that they are the feminist monopoly of the north! (International Women’s Day marches had been organised by “March 8 Organisation Commitee” for years. Last year, the commitee was cancelled unilaterally by a group who later announced that the marches will be organised by the new platform they established and the organisations outside of this platform can not be organisators, they can only be supporters.)
Long live the March 8! Long live organised struggle!
pp. Independence Path
Cansu N. Nazli