‘Manifesto of the Women’s Secretariat of the P.O.U.M.’ from The Spanish Revolution (P.O.U.M., New York). Vol. 1 No. 4. November 11, 1936.
The Women’s Secretariat of the P.O.U.M., in face of the seriousness of the present struggle against fascism which demands the efforts and sacrifices of everyone to assure the speedy triumph of the proletarian cause, calls upon women who are aware of the important issues at stake in this vital conflict, to all women who have fathers, brothers, and companions fighting in the trenches, to all women who are suffering from the consequences of the war to realize that they, as well as men, have their duties and obligations. Every woman has her place in the struggle and her definite task to accomplish in order to help our cause towards the final triumph.
No woman must be allowed to forget that the struggle going on at all fronts throughout Spain is a war to the death which can know no other end than the complete crushing of one or other of the adversaries. The offensive just begun by the workers must give birth to the triumph of the proletarian cause. But even so, hundreds of comrades will be lost in the struggle, and many other comrades will have to leave their work to go to the front. We women comrades must show ourselves worthy of the gesture of our comrades at the front. We also must make sacrifices. We must let those who leave their work know that nothing will suffer in their absence for lack of willing hands. We must take their places when they leave. Every man who is fighting at the front for the triumph of the revolution, must be able to know that his companion, his daughter, his mother is one more militant.
Comrades, militants, sympathizers of the P.O.U.M., all women workers, this war will be a long and hard one; there may come a time when there will not be enough hands to wield weapons at the front and direct help will be demanded of us. For this reason we believe that while only a minority of women undertake warlike tasks with efficiency, yet all militants and sympathizers of a revolutionary party are under obligation to learn to use fire-arms and become familiar with them. This knowledge may one day be precious to us. With this fact in mind the Women’s Secretariat of the P.O.U.M., whose object is to group the women comrades so that they will be able to give more effective service to the revolution, has already begun a course in military training and technical knowledge, open to all our militants and sympathizers. There are also other tasks and activities for which the self-sacrificing help of thousands of women is needed. The trenches take away many lives. They maim, many healthy bodies. We women comrades can contribute towards the triumph of the revolution by alleviating with our care the suffering of those who lie in the hospitals, curing the wounded and tending the sick. In consideration of this necessity, the Women’s Secretariat of the P.O.U.M. is opening a course of instruction in first aid and nursing.
We have also worked actively since the beginning of the war in knitting woolen garments and making overcoats for our combatants; but this work, which has been done merely within the party, is not sufficient. We are studying methods for enlarging this service so that we will be able to supply clothing for the front in great quantities. We count, therefore comrades, on all the help you can give us in this respect. We need your sewing machines and your hands.
But there is still more for us to do. The revolution is under way, but remnants of the old bourgeois philosophy still remain. The traditional concepts of family, home, love, as well as habits, customs and moral principles will all have to undergo a great transformation. The change from one social order to another means a hard intermediate period, and some years of sacrifice for all of us. Therefore it is necessary that all our women should know what a revolution is. They must learn to watch a world to which they were chained by tradition crumble away and give place to the new social order of the future. It is necessary to destroy prejudices and false illusions in order to clear the path for the future.
Comrades of the PO.U.M, sympathetic workers and all women, answer our call by giving your help, your initiative and your good will.
For the triumph of the Socialist Revolution!
The Spanish Revolution (not to be confused with the CNT supporters’ paper of the same name, time, and look)) was the English language journal of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM). Edited by American couple Charles and Lois Orr, she a member of the POUM women’s militia, the journal was aimed at British and US audiences through the International Revolutionary Marxist Centre, sometimes called the “Three and a Half International,” from October, 1936 until the arrest of the Orrs and the banning of the POUM after Barcelona’s “May Days” 1937 uprising.
PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/spain/poum/spanishrevolution/v1n4-nov-11-1936-Spanish%20Revolution.pdf