National Statement –
International Women’s Day 2008
Advance Filipino Women in Canada’s Struggle
Towards our Genuine
March 8, 2008
The National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada (NAPWC) joins the
militant commemoration of International Women’s Day to remember and honor
the millions of women around the world who trailblazed and paved the path
towards genuine women’s liberation.
We remember and honor women in history who led their people in fighting
for their freedom against tyrannical rulers and invaders. Such heroic
struggles include the Vietnamese Trung sisters in 39 AD, Filipina Gabriela
Silang in 1763, and the women of the Paris Commune in 1871 and of
Petrograd uprisings in the early 1900’s.
One hundred and fifty-one years ago, on March 8, 1857, 20,000 garment
workers in New York City marched and picketed, demanding improved working
conditions, a ten hour day, and equal rights for women. Fifty-one years
later, March 8 1908, 15,000 women in the needle trades in New York marched
again, honoring the 1857 march, and demanding shorter work hours, just
pay, an end to sweatshops and child labor, and the right to vote. They
would eventually call for an International Women’s Day.
As Filipino working women in Canada, we salute and pay tribute to Filipino
women who participated in the revolutionary struggle against Spanish
Colonialism, and to those Filipino women who continue today the unfinished
revolution against US imperialism and local reaction in the Philippines.
Today, Filipino working women in the Philippines and abroad carry on the
struggle against the intensifying political and economic crisis under the
fascist, corrupt, tyrannical, puppet, and fake Philippine President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo. The Filipino people are acutely aware that her 7-year
reactionary rule and puppetry to US imperialism is leading the country to
further deterioration. The Filipino people are rising up against her sham
development programs, such as the Hunger Mitigation Program, that aims to
cover-up her failure in addressing the root causes of the political and
economic crisis. The Filipino people are protesting her intensifying
political repression, intensifying militarization, corrupt governance, and
abuse of authority. The use of rape, torture and sexual abuse against
political prisoners like students Karen Empeno and Sherylyn Cadapan and
Angie Ipong enrages us.
Last month, nearly 80,000 people in Manila and many more all over the
Philippines took to the streets to protest massive corruption and million
dollar kickbacks in the ZTE-NBN Broadband project. The internationally
coordinated protest resoundly called for Arroyo’s ouster from the
Arroyo’s regime has also seen the worsening of the modern-day slavery of
women. Now more than ever, the anti-women and anti-people policies of
Arroyo are hitting Filipino migrant workers hard. Dependent on our annual
over $10 billion remittances to prop up her ailing economy, instead of
dealing with the chronic economic crisis in the Philippines, Arroyo
continues to actively export 3000 Filipinos everyday to 192 countries
Nearly 100,000 Filipino women have come to Canada since the 1980’s to work
under Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP)
and its predecessor the Foreign Domestic Movement. Under these programs,
women work and live in their employers homes taking care of children, the
disabled, or the elderly for minimum wage or less. The women face a
lifetime of socio-economic violence, de-skilling and all forms of
physical, sexual and verbal abuse including rape. Many women endure years
of violence in order to qualify for the chance at permanent residency,
reunification with their families and eventual citizenship.
Those who do not finish the required 24 months of live-in work within the
stipulated three years are unjustly deported. However recently, many are
being issued temporary working permits allowing them to stay and work in
Canada but revoke the chance to apply for permanent residency. We see this
as part of the expansion of the Temporary Workers Program that will only
worsen the exploitation of migrant workers.
We are also seeing the negative impacts on women and our whole community
beyond the LCP. Because of de-skilling, most women are segregated into
low-paying service sector or domestic work, often having to work double or
triple jobs to maintain their families needs. Because of long years of
forced family separation under the LCP, many relationships break down and
many women enter into abusive relationships after the LCP where the cycle
of abuse continues, not from their employers but from their partners or
spouses. Some women are forced into off-street prostitution in order to
supplement their incomes and because they are unable to enter into other
jobs other than domestic work or cleaning. Many Filipino youth who are
reunited with their mothers after long periods of separation are having
difficulty in adjusting to their new lives in Canada and are dropping out
of high school.
We remember Editha Mangaoang, Jocelyn Dulnuan, Arcelie Laoagan, who came
to Canada as live-in caregivers and Deeward Ponte son of Daisy Ponte
former live-in caregiver, who were all killed last year due to violence.
Because of these short and long-term negative impacts on our women and
community, we reiterate our call for the scrapping of the LCP. This call
has been taken on not only by Filipino women themselves, but has also been
supported by progressive Canadians including academics, politicians and
the media. Some organizations would like to have us believe that reforming
the LCP will solve our problems. Yet we know from the concrete experiences
of the women and families themselves that any amount of reforms will still
not solve the inherent exploitation and oppression within the program. We
also call on the Canadian government to implement a national childcare
program and allow for the full recognition and accreditation of
foreign-trained professionals as a way to combat our community’s extreme
marginalization and economic segregation.
Despite our challenges, we
draw inspiration from our women’s resistance to state violence and
economic, political and social exploitation and oppression in the
Philippines and abroad in countries like Canada. Just as our ancestors
before us, Filipino working-class women young and old are rising up
against their oppressors and exploiters. We are coming together to share
our experiences, analyze and take collective action to change our
situations. This empowerment has resulted in the formation of strong local
women’s organizations across Canada and the formation in 2002 of the
National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada.
As we struggle for our liberation as Filipino women we know that this
cannot be achieved without the liberation of the Philippine nation from
the control of foreign monopoly capitalists and their local lackeys. That
is why we continue to support the Filipino peoples heroic struggle for
national and social liberation and honour the many women activists who
continue to risk their lives in order to struggle for the betterment of
their families and the nation.
Scrap the anti-woman, racist Live-in Caregiver Program!
End forced migration and the Labor Export Policy of the Philippine
Oust the corrupt, fake, puppet and fascist Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo!
Long live International Women’s Day!
March 8, 2008
Statement issued by:
National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada:
Philippine Women Centre of Ontario
Philippine Women Centre of Quebec
Philippine Women Centre of BC