This year’s International Women’s Day (8 March) sees a world in turmoil once again. Whether organising against cuts in the UK or dying for their freedom across Africa, as usual women are fighting back alongside men.

When the smoke clears, their sacrifice should not be forgotten or replaced with stories that have only male heroes. Although the people portrayed in these snapshots are women, what links them is not their sex, but their shared struggle for justice and equality.

Ivory Coast

Up to 500 demonstrators have been murdered in Ivory Coast over the last few weeks. Their struggle has gone almost unnoticed by the world’s media, although Ivory Coast has at last received some attention last week in the wake of continuing tragedy.

In response to government violence, women in Ivory Coast organised a series of women’s demonstrations in the city of Abidjan. They were marching for peace and calling for the country’s incumbent ruler, Laurent Gbagbo, to step down.

The demonstrations were met with severe brutality. Eyewitness reports state that security forces fired machine guns into the crowds, killing six women instantly and injuring a seventh so severely that she later died in hospital. Reports say that one of the women was heavily pregnant.

Russian Revolution

Women’s demonstrations against despotic regimes have a long and proud history – and hopefully the protests in Ivory Coast will see the same results as a series of women’s demonstration that began in Russia in 1917, on the last weekend of February. In the wake of the death over two million Russian soldiers in World War One, the demonstrations and strikes that followed demanded bread and peace.

The strikes were the starting point of the movement that forced the Tsar to abdicate and later – in October 1917 – brought about the only successful workers’ revolution in history.


The central role played by Egyptian women in overthrowing the dictator Mubarak is well documented. However, the constitutional reform committee that was appointed by the army to run Egypt doesn’t have a single woman member.

For International Women’s Day Egyptian women are planning to rally in Tahrir Square to demand equal rights with men and the empowerment of women in Egyptian politics. Their struggle forms an integral part of the whole popular movement seeking to transform Egypt – and inspiring millions of women and men to take action across the Arab region and beyond.

Rosa Luxemburg

The Egyptian revolution brings to mind the words of Rosa Luxemburg, who said that “History is the only true teacher, the revolution the best school for the proletariat.”

This week sees the publication of ‘The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg’ by Verso Books. Rosa Luxemburg was a revolutionary, active in Germany for most of her political life, renowned for her fight against capitalism and war. She was murdered in 1919 by the German government, along with some of her comrades.

Described as “the most comprehensive collection of letters by Rosa Luxemburg ever published in English,” the collection includes 190 letters that Rosa Luxemburg wrote to leading figures in the European and international labour and socialist movements – her closest friends, lovers and colleagues. “Her political concerns are revealed alongside her personal struggles within a socialist movement that was often hostile to independently minded women.”

So, on International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to discover and spread the hidden stories of women whose fight so often goes undocumented.