Overseas Filipino Women

join International Women's Day 2008 rally in Vancouver


March 8, 2008




Grassroots Women lead in an International Women's Day rally with the call: "Resist Imperialism! Solidarity in the struggle for Women's Liberation"


Photos courtesy of the National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada (NAPWC)


National Statement – International Women’s Day 2008

Advance Filipino Women in Canada’s Struggle

Towards our Genuine Liberation!

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 presidential seat.

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 worldwide.

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 government!
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

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