Asian Peasant Coalition Celebrates

‘First’ International Day of Rural Women

 

Mendiola Bridge, Manila

October 15, 2008

 

 

 

The Asian Peasant Coalition today commemorates the first ever International Day of Rural Women, as established by the UN General Assembly  in its resolution 62/136 last December 18, 2007. The observance of this day started in 1995 by various international non-government organizations at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Since then, this day honors the integral role of women in the agricultural sector, food production and food security.

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MEDIA RELEASE
October 15, 2008
Reference: DANILO RAMOS, APC Secretary-General (+63928-422-98-67)
MEDIA RELEASE
October 15, 2008
Reference: DANILO RAMOS, APC Secretary-General (+63928-422-98-67)

‘First’ International Day of Rural Women Celebrated

The Asian Peasant Coalition today commemorates the first ever International Day of Rural Women, as established by the UN General Assembly declared in its resolution 62/136 last December 18, 2007. The observance of this day started in 1995 by various international non-government organizations at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Since then, this day honors the integral role of women in the agricultural sector, food production and food security.

Rural women are engaged in all aspects of agriculture – from sowing to nurturing, harvesting, selecting and preserving seeds for the next cropping season. However, given the largely feudal society in which they live in, their vital roles are largely downplayed and their contributions are undervalued. They are being discriminated against having access to resources and opportunities, in the same way that men do.

“We are thankful of the recognition by the world body but more importantly the first was when the peasant-women organized themselves and realized that they should be recognized,” opened Danilo Ramos, APC Secretary-General and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines) Secretary-General. “Statistically, women are half of the population and they deserve all the rights and opportunities, that is why it is just and logical that they should be recognized,” he added.

“We all know that women and children are systematically neglected in particular forms at the countrysides, such as the existence of unpaid family labor. Being family members is abused by the government as they treat them as employed to bloat their statistics,” Ramos shared.

Discrimination based on gender is one of the worst things that women experience in the countrysides, “There are cases that farmworker-women and children receive lower wages than men, also they are sexually-exploited by landlords and their administrators,” Ramos narrated.

Moreover, the present food crisis experienced all over the globe has severely hit peasant and indigenous women. Through the neoliberal policy of trade liberalization, corporatization of agriculture has been practiced in developing countries. Vast lands and productive resources are controlled by landlords, transnational corporations, and are turned into big businesses. Women then become more exploited in corporate farms that continually spring up in the countryside. They are subjected to low wages, toxic chemicals and hazardous technologies. Massive displacement of rural and farming communities are also occurring, resulting to hunger, food insecurity and harassment.

In the Philippines, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), joined the AMIHAN (National Federation of Peasant Women Network), and GABRIELA in rally at Malacanang palace today. Imleda Lacandazo, KMP national vice-chairperson said, "on the occasion of the first International Day of Rural Women, our struggles must be brought to the forefront and our roles be highlighted. Let us advance the peoples struggle for genuine freedom and democracy!"

The Asian Peasant Coalition, together with other progressive organizations all over the world are in solidarity with dalits, indigenous and peasant women in their resistance against imperialist globalization and exploitation. Their rights to land, livelihood, productive resources, safe working conditions, health and reproductive rights must be recognized. Thus, to pursue the basic interests of the rural women is to integrate it with the general people’s struggle against feudalism and U.S. imperialism!

Rural Women Unite!
Resist WTO and Imperialist Globalization!
Assert Women’s Rights!
Struggle for Genuine Agrarian Reform and Peoples’ Food Sovereignty!
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Press Statement
October 15, 2008

Reference: Zenaida Soriano ( AMIHAN National Vice Chairperson) Cell
phone # 09062851569
Tess Vistro (media liaison officer) Cell phone # 09163006226

On World Rural Women's Day:
Filipino Rural Women Declare "GMA Corrupt, Must GO!"


Today rural women the world over commemorate this day amid a world
food crisis and an unprecedented global financial crisis that is threatening to devastate the livelihood of millions of of rural peoples around the globe. Filipino rural women commemorate this day amid a deepening crisis in the agricultural sector marked by landlessness, ever growing poverty and hunger among the rural sectors. The latest National Statistical Board (NSCB) data reports that 25 per cent of rural families are below food threshold and that about half of the rural population are poor.

Zen Soriano, AMIHAN Vice Chairperson said: "We are the producers of
food, but we suffer from hunger. Women in Southeast Asia, including
the Philippines allocate up to 90 percent of their labor for rice cultivation. But instead of giving lands, the government continue to peddle the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), that did nothing but give back the lands and even fishing waters to landlords and foreign corporations. Instead of giving rights to the land we are persecuted, and worst killed." In the list of victim of extrajudicial killings recorded by Karapatan, more than 50 per cent are rural peoples fighting for their lands!
 

 

"Worst, even funds already intended to support farmers livelihood and increase their productivity, such as the Php729M fertilizer fund, Php 3.1 irrigation fund, Php 5 billion swine scam, P 218.7 million hybrid rice scam and the Php 135 million vegetable scam, were used by GMA for her own ends," Soriano added.

Thousands of people in the rural areas mostly less educated, young women, leave for other lands to save their families escape the quagmire of poverty, only to be faced with various layers of vulnerabilities including sexual abuse.

"President Arroyo, despite the recent economic crisis, pig-headedly refuse to address the fundamental economic problem of backwardness of the Philippine agriculture and landlessness of the Filipino peasants. Instead, it promotes labor-export policy as an economic measure for a quick-dollar- income generation. In turn, the desperation, naivete and lack of resources of impoverished rural women makes these women prey to illegal human trafficking outside the country," said GABRIELA spokesperson Nere Guerero.

According to GABRIELA, most Filipinos who are victims of human trafficking and smuggling outside the country and end up as undocumented international migrants are women from the rural areas.

Rural women brought with them a scare crow, traditionally used by farmers to drive away birds that feast on their rice plants. Drawing a parallel to GMA who feasted on funds intended for farmers to keep herself in power, the rural women chorused in shouting: Gloria Go Away Never Come Again Any Other Day! ###
 

           
           
           
           

 

PRESS RELEASE
October 15, 2008
REFERENCE:
IMELDA LACANDAZO, KMP National Vice Chairperson (63-918-299- 57-80)
ROY MORILLA, Public Information Officer (63-905-421- 7305)

Peasant group marks International Day of Rural Women
by sneaking at Mendiola
With other women groups, marches to call for land, food and justice

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) marks October 15 – International Day of Rural Women by marching sneakily towards Malacanang and holding a program with women organizations such as Amihan (National Federation of Peasant Women), Gabriela and other progressive groups. The annual commemoration is getting bigger as other groups and sectors continue to recognize the role of peasant women in agriculture and national economy. Also, the venue is getting nearer to Malacanang as previous actions were held in front of the Department of Agriculture office in Quezon City.

Prior, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 15 as the day for rural women last December, thus this is the first commemoration with formal recognition from the world body. Obviously, an anticipated result as women and people's organizations around the world hold activities annually since 1995, since concretely the role of peasant women deserves to be recognized and honored.

"The essential commemoration of this day is to struggle for genuine agrarian reform," opened Imelda Lacandazo, KMP National Vice-Chairperson. "As peasant women issues are integrated to the realization of genuine agrarian reform, and the real force behind the exploitation and oppression of women at the countryside is the existence of a semi-feudal political and economic set-up, we should link arms with other sectors," Lacandazo added.

"In most areas, women and children working at their farms are ignored and treated simply as unpaid family labor, thus, the real income the family generates per capita is essentially lower," added Lacandazo. "This is a blatant tolerance of the government, worse, they treat them as employed to doll up their labor statistics," she added.

"Moreover, there are many cases that women farmworkers earn lower, same case with youth farmworkers, " shared Lacandazo. "In despotic areas such as in Negros, women sugarworkers earn P60 per day while the standard is at P80, children working earn a measly P40," Lacandazo pictured. She added, "In `pakyawan' system, the women and children totally work for free to aid their husbands and fathers. This is brought about by the strong political and economic power of the landlords that depress contract prices and their incomes, and the government is feeble about it."

"The worst cases are when peasant women become household maids of landlords for free, hoping to keep them on their lands, there are also cases where daughters are matched with the landlords by their families, these are bitter truths that occur, because there are no genuine agrarian reform," Lacandazo explained.

Also, women are usually in charge of daily needs such as food, thus, they primarily cope with the rising prices of goods such as rice. "They are the ones whose head aches when it comes to buying food such as rice. There are many instances that they don't eat rice and bear with root and other food crops," shared Lacandazo.

As being leaders and members of KMP local chapters, they become targets and victims of human rights violations by government forces. "They are also victims of human rights violations, worse, some are already at old age, they are never spared," Lacandazo deplored.

"Thus, this action of celebrating the International Day of Rural Women would only be essential and significant if it would be towards genuine agrarian reform, we are calling for land, food and justice," explained Lacandazo. "But as we know that Macapagal-Arroyo is hopeless, merciless and considerate of the peasantry in general, more with the peasant women, we learned our lessons, nothing good will happen if she is still in power. We, the peasant women will join other oppressed sectors and groups to oust her from office," declared Lacandazo.#

 

     
     
     
           
           

 

Statement on the Occasion of World Rural Women’s Day and World Foodless Day
16 October 2008

By Innabuyog, alliance of indigenous women’s organizations in the Cordillera,
Alliance of Peasant in the Cordillera Homeland

We Fight Hunger, We Fight Poverty! We Assert our Survival!

Government says you live with P46.00 a day or P16,810.00 per annum (US358.00). This is the poverty threshold in the Cordillera according to the National Statistics Coordinating Board (NSCB). This is half the poverty threshold prescribed by the World Bank and International Labor Organization of US$2.00 a day.

But rural and urban poor women say that this is not even enough to buy one day’s square meals for one person. On the other hand, government also says that the daily family living wage in the Cordillera is P834.00 (US$17.7) and 20% of this is allocated for food. Women say that with their current income of P50-250.00 (US$1-5.3) a day, 80-100% of their family income is spent on food. Oftentimes, the income is not even enough to buy the family’s food of rice and viand.

The current level of poverty in the Cordillera region and in the country give women an added burden of stretching the measly resources of their families.

In Conner, indigenous peasant women say that what used to be food for the family is now brought to market in order to add to the family’s cash source. Before, it was easy to share rice, vegetables, fruits and other food products to neighbors and relatives. With the economic crisis now, the women say there is hardly a food item to share. What little produce that the family may spare, are sold to buy other food needs. The produce is not even enough for the family with production getting costlier, the attack of pests, irrigation problems and change in climate pattern. What used to be part of the meal like meat, fish and milk for the children, are reduced if not taken out from the budget. This situation is echoed by other women in other parts of the region, in the interior villages, in town and urban centers.

The face of hunger and poverty in the Cordillera may not have reached starvation levels but obviously, families are forced to adjust in the volume and quality of food for their families. Women say that what cannot be absent in their kitchen is rice thus all means to provide and seek is done by them and their husbands. This usually means separation of family members as one parent, even women, set to other places for wage labor or overseas as domestic workers. All remedies to ensure food for the family are sought by women—vending, wage labor, loans and availing of small livelihood projects of the government which hardly help in alleviating the rural women’s economic conditions . Indeed this situation creates the vulnerability of women to deception, to patronage politics, violence against women, and engagement to anti-social activities.

Today, we observe the 13th year of the World Rural Women’s Day and the 29th year of World Food Day. As rural indigenous women, we no longer enjoy abundance of food in our farms and kitchens. As toiling women in town and urban centers, we do not have the just wage and secured livelihood to feed our children with the right volume and quality of food. Families living under poverty thresholds in the Cordillera increased to 28.8% as compared to 25.8% in 2003 (NSCB). Cordillera provinces except for Benguet are part of the top 20 poorest provinces in the country. Apayao and Abra top the poverty incidence of 57.5% and 50% respectively.
 

 

The real poverty situation among rural and urban poor women is more downright than these government indicators.
 

Hunger and poverty is worsened by the inflation rate of 11.4%, the highest in the last 14 years. Rice price rose by 60%, other food commodities followed suit, aggravated by the non-stop oil price hikes of more than P20.00 per liter.

Hunger and poverty is also worsened by the continuing militarization of the countryside and the government’s national mineral liberalization program that offered more than 60% of the Cordillera land to foreign mining corporations.

Hunger and poverty has been acknowledged by the Department of Education as the cause for the increased drop-outs among children. The malnutrition rate remains high among rural children in the region despite government’s Food-for- School Program.

National governments and international economic institutions speak about solving the global hunger and poverty problem targeting to reduce global poverty by one half in 2015 through the Millennium Development Plan. It is alarming that 1.4 billion people or almost a quarter of the world’s population, live below the international poverty line, or earning below US$1.25 a day (World Bank). Each year, 5.6 million children aged 5 years and below die as a result of malnutrition. The hunger and poverty situation is aggravated by the soaring of food prices which became particularly steep in the 1st months of 2008(report of the UNSR on Food). Overall, the price of food commodities on the international markets rose by 83% over the last 36 months.

However, the current global food crisis should not be used by the GMA government as its excuse for the country’s food and economic crisis. It only shows the vulnerability of the Philippine economy being export-oriented and import dependent and driven by neoliberal globalization. While the GMA government has earmarked P366 billion for it’s Anti-poverty Program which is distributed to National Social Welfare program amounting to P45 billion, the Noah’s Ark Framework amounting to P316 billion and Hunger Mitigation Program amounting to P5 billion, the results of these programs have yet to be seen in the quality of life of poor indigenous women and their communities.

The indigenous peasant women’s organizations in the Cordillera and Innabuyog joins rural women and the peasant organizations in the country and the whole world in their actions to decry the hunger and poverty situation and assert their food sovereignty. At the international level, Innabuyog links with the efforts of the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), Pesticide Action Network-Asia Pacific (PAN-AP), the Don’t Globalize Hunger campaign of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Asia Peasant Coalition and the Asia Rural Women’s Coalition.

Innabuyog asserts that food can only be secured with a healthy economic condition where the government has the political will to address the age-old problem of land reform, enable the development of national industries that truly develops national economy, support for domestic food production, respect for indigenous peoples’ rights to their ancestral lands and of their resources and get rid of liberalization policies which kill the development of agriculture and domestic food production.

As we assert our survival and the survival of future generations, we will not allow ourselves to be defeated by dole-outs, state terrorism and never will we bow down to the capitalist greed on our land and food resources. We will continue to assert our right to our land , and defend our food resources and harvest.

           

 

 
 

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