"The feminist movement was one of the strongest parts of the radicalisation of the 1960s and 1970s", said Carla Gorton, a pro-choice activist and Socialist Alliance member from Cairns. She addressed a March 16 forum called "Feminism: Theory and Action", presented by Resistance and the Socialist Alliance.
"Despite the undoubted gains made by women over the past few decades, the basic contradictions persist, due to the continued oppression of women under the capitalist system. All of the advancements in women's rights over the past decades have been the result of practical struggles."
She outlined the campaign in Cairns in support of a couple who face criminal charges and possible jail terms under Queensland's 110-year-old criminal code outlawing abortion.
"It is a fundamental right for women to decide if and when to bear children", she added. "The ALP in this state has a shameful record on abortion law repeal, refusing to take advantage of its majority in parliament to change the law, despite polls showing around 80% public support for decriminalisation."
Naomi Rogers-Falk from Resistance outlined of the origins of women's oppression, with the rise of class society. Women's oppression was absent from early hunter-gatherer societies, but this changed with the development of private property, she said.
Today, "the oppression of women as a social group is systematic in the capitalist world, as a capitalist economy necessitates the oppression of women ... By denying women equal rights and fostering sexism, modern capitalist culture falsely maintains women as the lesser sex and encourages the subordination of women to men."
She explained how women continue to be oppressed in contemporary society.