Statement on the Centenary of the International Women's Day
March 8, 2010
Continuing the struggles of the working class women's movement
As we observe the 100th anniversary of the birth of the militant women's
movement, we pay tribute to all the courageously spirited toiling women
who then fought to advance equal rights in society, better pay at work and
the right to vote. Even as there have been significant changes in the
status of women since then, imperialist globalization today poses new
challenges and forms of exploitation.
In the Philippines like in other developing countries, women continue to
be highly exploited, marginalized, and perennial victims of violence and
repression. Massive poverty, unemployment, and the capitalist-inflicted
economic crisis persist in plaguing the country under the US-Arroyo
regime. Right now there are 10 million Filipinos looking for jobs; 2.71
million are unemployed; 7.41 million are underemployed; and 4.6 million
are contractual workers. Most of them are women.
This terrible economic situation forces many Filipinos to leave the
country to work abroad in temporary jobs, or to live there as permanent
migrants. Around 3,400 Filipinos leave the country every day, more than
half of them are women.
In Canada, tens of thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are
mainly women, work as nannies, caregivers and maids. They were brought to
Canada under a temporary foreign worker program called the
Live-In-Caregiver Program, or LCP. They were lured by the promise of
landed immigrant status, but only if they could put up with the live-in
conditions for a "mere" two or three years, conditions which often turned
out to be oppressive, exploitative, racist and heartless.
Temporary foreign workers, including OFWs, have been subject to arbitrary
and shifting employment conditions with little ability to defend
themselves or seek alternative employment. The TFW is often paid
substantially less than their Canadian co-workers, the working conditions
are often significantly different from those promised. For example, an
administrative assistant arriving to find she was to work at a gas
station; chefs from 5-star hotels spending half their time washing dishes
and floors, mechanics being told their job is apprentice-mechanic with pay
lowered accordingly. Housing provided is substandard, crowded and costly.
Those who complain are often threatened to be deported or imprisoned.
Despite the increasing number of cases of exploitation, abuse and even
mysterious deaths, the Arroyo administration continues to advertise its
shameful labour export program of sending more than 1 million Filipino
workers abroad every year. While dollar remittances from migrant workers
are increasing, the supposed basic services from government agencies
become sluggish or most of the time inaccessible when these are most
Meanwhile, the attack on women and other sectors of the progressive
movement goes on under the pretext of war on terror by the fascist
US-Arroyo regime. The recent illegal arrest of 43 community health workers
in Morong, Rizal is an indication that the ruling administration is
hell-bent on continuing its anti-people policies and practice of
undeclared martial law. Most of the arrested and currently detained health
workers are women, some of whom complained of torture and sexual abuse
while in detention.
These workers who unselfishly dedicated themselves for the good of the
poor should be treated fairly rather than subjected to state-sponsored
hostility. In fact, the government should be pleased with people like them
for providing the health services that the State itself fails to provide
its own people. On the contrary, the government has demonized them by
tagging them as “enemies of the state”. Adding insult to injury, the
government awarded the military men with medals. Instead of stroking the
ego of its armed goons, the ruling Arroyo administration should end
fascist repression. We demand the unconditional release of the Morong 43!
To continue the struggles of that women’s movement that started a century
ago, we need to have the tenacity to join hands with militant women
activists, trade unionists, migrant workers, and other allied forces. We
need to raise our voices against any attacks to our rights and welfare. We
need to raise our clenched fists against pro-imperialist economic policies
and measures that displace millions of women and other working people from
their jobs, their homes and their lands around the world.
As the Philippines prepares for the May 2010 national and local elections,
we migrant Filipinos should push for the advancement of alternative
political and economic platforms e.g., for national sovereignty, national
industrialization and genuine land reform, and lend our support to those
candidates and progressive party formations that sincerely have the
people’s interests at heart. Even then, we are one with the millions of
women and the rest of the Filipino people in the ongoing struggle for
genuine national freedom, and a just and liberating peace.
Long live International Women’s Day!
Long live women migrant workers!
Working class women, unite against imperialist globalization!
Carry forward the struggle for national freedom and democracy!