Support participation of women and children

Support participation of women and children

Melbourne Branch recently passed an important resolution to support a more active participation of women who have children in women's forums, by asking the branch to consider inviting women who have children to speak at women's forums. This is in the best interests of inclusiveness and helping women who have children develop as party supporters and party leaders. This will also help to inform our discussions and guide the thinking of party members about the needs of ordinary working class women. As our Women's Charter states, women overwhelmingly bear the burden of domestic and caring roles. Women with these roles are in the best position to formulate demands and articulate the needs of other women with children.

When we write material in GLW about the destruction of Parenting Payment, childcare services or other issues that directly impact on women with children then these are best written by women who experience these issues. Articles written from first-hand experience will have more immediacy and speak directly heart to heart with women with children who read GLW and encourage them to identify with our politics. In Melbourne we have made strong links with single parent groups: their members and leaders should be approached to write for our paper and speak at our meetings.

Some members of a single parent group campaigned for the election of Sue Bolton so this is a place to start: The newly created Moreland Socialists sometimes meets in a migrant cultural centre, which is accessible to people in wheelchairs, so this is a great place to encourage inclusiveness. Migrant communities often have strong family networks. By encouraging these migrant women to take an interest in Moreland Socialists we can help make the party more diverse, inclusive and family friendly. When more women with children are active in our organisation this will help make our party a more family-friendly place for integrating working class members.

Although there are very few women who have children who are active in our branch we have made progress in building links with progressive organisations representing women who have children. We need the participation of such organisations so that our party can truly become the party of working class women.

Of course we should still keep the door open to closer working relationships with Socialist Alternative and others on the left but we should not be overly influenced by any group that lacks affinities with the lifestyles of ordinary everyday working class women. Some "super socialists" have been known to be sectarian towards workers with traditional family lifestyles and religious affinities. Any hasty merger could set back our progress towards inclusiveness and relevance. 

As income management is operating in Shepparton we could help sponsor a visit by socialist single mothers to talk to Aboriginal single mothers who are experiencing this discrimination. The Melbourne Resistance Conference could also be a venue to invite some of the many young mums support groups to speak about their issues, and I am sure they would be only too happy to do this. Young mums face renewed discrimination with the paternalistic requirement for them to return to school as well as the hyped up "yummy mummy" pressures.

Hopefully the Geelong Conference in January will include discussions about how to increase the involvement of women with children in political action.