Working Women Gathered in UID-DER

On 10 March in Ankara branch and on 24 March in all the other branches of UID-DER there were lively celebrations of International Working Women’s Day. Hundreds of working women attended the events organised by UID-DER Women’s Committee under the main slogan of “8 March: Working women, get organized and join the struggle!”

In all branches of UID-DER women workers from diverse industries, housewives, Kurdish women fighting for peace, striking women attended the events together with their friends, husbands and children. Working women were welcomed with red carnations. Male workers prepared tables and women were invited to those tables of fraternity. A film made by UID-DER Media Team entitled “Working Women Speak” was shown. The film included interviews with working women speaking about their problems and aspirations, which created an emotional atmosphere. Songs by UID-DER Music Band were sung altogether and working women danced the Halay.

While working women are struggling with poverty and misery, women of ruling class are leading a life of dolce vita. Working women created the International Working Women’s Day during their struggle to shorten the working day and get equal pay for equal work. Therefore 8 March is not a “Women’s Day” but a day of working women’s struggle. It definitely belongs to the working class. And the working women who attended the events in all branches embraced the day enthusiastically.


The event started with a speech on behalf of UID-DER. After the speech working women formed a marvellous choir and UİD-DER Music Band’s songs were sung altogether. Poems about the grief created by wars, aspiration for a world without exploitation, dreams and struggles of the working class accompanied the songs.

At the end of the meeting it was the guests’ turn to speak. Working women talked about the hardships and sufferings of being a worker and a woman. It was stressed over and over again that working women should be more self-confident. It was also stressed that working women should reject the role of being inferior, shy, silent against the injustices and that this can only be achieved through joining the organised struggle.

Speeches were followed by dancing the Halay and call for the working women to attend the May Day demonstration under the flag of UID-DER.


Apart from many working women from various industries the event in Sefakoy was attended by working refugee women from Iran who fight against oppression and tyranny in their home country in the ranks of the working class, picketing aviation workers from Turkish Airlines who stopped the government attempt to ban strikes in aviation industry, working women from the Women’s Assembly of BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) Sefakoy and Avcilar branches in the name of Kurdish women who have been fighting for freedom and peace for decades. Picketing Turkish Airlines workers served the cake which was cooked on the occasion of 8 March celebration. So the 300th day of Turkish Airlines strike was celebrated together with the International Working Women’s Day.  

The interviews in the film, “Working Women Speak”, deeply moved the women in the hall. Some of them could not help shedding tears. They talked about their problems and the way to solve these problems. One of them, who has been a worker for many years said that she got married at the age of 18, became a mother on 19. Her speech was a mirror for the lives of others in the hall. She stressed that mothers were partly responsible for the male domination because of the way they raised their children and called for unity of working women.  

Friends from BDP Women’s Assembly called for support for the ongoing peace process. Saying that they were also workers Kurdish women mentioned their problems as workers, women and Kurds. One of them told that she had never met with women from so many different industries, nations and communities and that she was very pleased to attend such a meaningful meeting. She concluded her remarks by expressing her aspiration for fraternity against those who attempt to divide toilers on the basis of race, nationality, ethnicity, religion and sect.

A Kurdish woman said that she was discriminated against because she could not speak Turkish properly, and she added that “we are not different, we are simply Kurds and we want to be equal and we want peace.” She concluded her speech by a Kurdish slogan, “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi,” which means “woman, life, freedom.”


The International Working Women’s Day was celebrated with the participation of male and female workers from diverse industries such as leather, textile, metal, shipbuilding, services in great enthusiasm. Among the guests were also working women from BDP Women’s Assembly (Tuzla Branch). Majority of the guests were women and they were pleased to learn the origins of the International Working Women’s Day. It was interesting for them to hear that 8 March is not a “Women’s Day” but working women’s day.

Welcomed by red carnations, working women shared their grievances and troubles of being a worker and a woman just as the women in the video. The coincidence of the stress made by the women in the video and in the hall on double oppression of women was striking. “Bosses consider us cheap labour, we are fired in the first place at times of crisis” said one of them. Another one pointed out how female body is abused: “Even car adverts are based on female body.” Another one asked: “You realise the hardships of being woman even when you are a child. We are grown by hearing ‘keep silent, you are a girl!’ We are grown as if we cannot cope with anything on our own. Why are we subjected to such injustices?” “We are not safe on the street. Violence against women and woman killing is rampant. Nobody pays attention even if a woman is beaten in public by her husband or boyfriend! When you are harassed people say ‘unless women wag their tail men do nothing’ putting the blame on women” said another.

Women expressed their astonishment when they saw the men of UID-DER who worked hardly at kitchen, looked after the children and made other practical works, and they stressed that they realised how it makes difference to be organised and conscious.  The event was finished with songs and dancing the Halay. 


There was a massive turnout of male and female workers in the event in Sarıgazi. Among the participants were women from BDP Women’s Assembly of Sancaktepe. The event started after the meal at the big UID-DER table. The brief history of International Women’s Day which was told in a plain language together with screen presentation, songs and poems was received with great enthusiasm.

A 58 year-old working woman expressed her feelings: “I realised that there has not been a single day that I lived for myself. I worked as a cleaner in other people’s houses for years. And that wasn’t all. When I returned home I did the housework. I worked harder than my husband and I am worn-out. But I have never had social insurance. Now my husband is a pensioner but I’m not. I still have to ask money from him. Today, by coming here I did something for myself. I thank you very much.” 

Another woman said: “We, as women, are also responsible for how we are treated! We, women raise men. My father has never appreciated my mother after a meal. My mother has always been suppressed. But he has learned to thank me when I cook.”  

Working women of Sarıgazi expressed their appreciation and best feelings for UID-DER and the event via UID-DER Women’s Committee.


Working women responded positively to the invitation of UID-DER Women’s Committee in Gebze. The turnout was again massive. It was a quite different day for the working women who had been contacted through preceding UID-DER work in factories, workers’ neighbourhoods, and UID-DER stalls set up for campaigns. They were happy to participate in the event.

The meeting started with the meal which was prepared by male workers. Male workers volunteered to do the service, childcare, cleaning etc, demonstrating a beautiful example of workers’ solidarity.

The significance of International Women’s Day was told. Those women workers who died for this cause since 1856 New York were remembered. After the video entitled “Working Women  Speak” it was the time for participant women to speak. They told their problems they face at work and home. They also shared their ideas on how to overcome these problems. One of them said that her husband has made a great progress and begun to help her with the housework after getting into contact with UID-DER. “There is something different about UID-DER. I want my husband to get more involved in UID-DER and also bring me with him.”

Participant women stressed that they have no choice but to take a leading initiative to further the struggle in order to stand against exploitation, humiliation, oppression, violence and harassment.

Working women joined the songs performed by UID-DER Music Band and danced the Halay. They were called to participate in May Day demonstrations. In a jubilant atmosphere at the end of the event they expressed their gratitude to UID-DER Women’s Committee.

27 March 2013