Thursday, February 14, 2008

International Women's Day!

GABRIELA Statement

International Women's Day

8 March 2008

On March 8, 2008, Filipino women once again call for a militant
commemoration of the International Women's Day to honor the day of
working women. The women's militancy to demand change and fight for
their rights roots back from the historical condition of oppression and
inequality of women. For working class women, this meant inhuman and
slave-like conditions in the form of feudal and capitalist

One hundred years ago, on 8 March 1908, 15,000 women marched through New
York City to demand shorter work hours, just pay and the right to vote.
In the same year in Europe women also set up strikes, protested against
welfare cuts and campaigned for equal pay and unionization.

In the Philippines, women's participation has always been significant in
the people's historical struggle for sovereignty and against oppression
and exploitation. Filipinas first commemorated International Women's Day
in 1971 at the onset of the dictatorial rule of Ferdinand Marcos. With
the establishment of GABRIELA in 1984, women under the alliance
continued the militant tradition of commemoration of IWD from then on,
recognizing the contribution of millions of working women's struggle in
the past.

Today, Filipino working women carry on the struggle at a time of
worsening economic and political crises under the 7- year
Macapagal-Arroyo regime – a regime most subservient to US imperialist
dictates, most corrupt and tyrannical, and almost equals the Marcos
dictatorship in its fascism.

The Arroyo regime boasts of a growing Philippine economy, citing the
increase in the country's Gross National Product and the strengthening
of the peso against the US dollar. The regime further claims that a
diminishing hunger incidence as shown in the last quarter of 2007 survey
was due to her good governance and the success of the hunger mitigation
program that she started in 2005.

The concrete experiences of majority of the Filipino people, especially
women who bear the brunt of hunger and poverty, proved the Arroyo
regime's declaration of progress a lie. For the Filipino people, there
has been no meaningful development amidst the economy's continuing

Sham Program, Corrupt Governance

The government's development program such as the Hunger Mitigation
Program is nothing but mere attempts to cosmetize its utter failure to
resolve the fundamental problems of the Philippine economy.

The Arroyo government's ever-ready compliance to policies of imperialist
globalization leads to the bankruptcy of the country's industry and
agriculture, which in turn, causes the widespread dislocation of workers
and farmers. Even owners of small businesses bemoan the weight of the
crisis and its adverse effects on their businesses and investments.

Reality also runs counter to the Arroyo political clique's propaganda of
good governance. Arroyo and her political clique are being hounded by
unending scandals of corruption and abuse of authority. Adding to these
scandals involving the president, her husband and their close allies are
recent revelations of corruption and kickback in the ZTE-NBN Broadband
project and cases of bribery in Malacañang and Congress coinciding with
a move to consolidate the administration block to ward off a impeachment
case against the President. Yet in all these corruption scandals and
anomalies, not one of those involved was ever tried, much less punished.

Worsening the Modern Day Slavery of Women in the 7th Year of the Fake

The worsening economic crisis leads to further deterioration of Filipino
women's social status. Household work remains the woman's individual
responsibility while the crisis further compels women to seek livelihood
to augment the family's income. And yet feudal patriarchal relations
between men and women remain and society, in general, continues to view
women as inferior and second-class citizens. The number of women victims
of sexual abuse both in the country and abroad continues to rise.

Majority of poor women work as farmer tenants, seasonal plantation
workers or contract workers in the manufacturing industry and burdened
by low wages, absence of benefits and job insecurity. As primary
homemakers, women resort to ingenious ways to earn extra (providing
laundry services, vending food in the streets, etc.) or to seek work
overseas. In fact, majority of present-day Overseas Filipino Workers are
women, who are in jobs most vulnerable to abuse, such as domestic
workers and entertainers.

The Arroyo regime's much touted low hunger incidence in the country in a
survey conducted during the last quarter of 2007 at 16.2 % remains high
when compared to a hunger incidence batting at slightly lower average of
11.9 % over the last 10 years. This 16.2 % hunger incidence can only be
appreciated as lower relative to a 21.5 % (nominally equivalent to 3.8
million Filipino families) all-time high posed during the 3rd quarter of

No amount of propaganda or manipulated statistics could conceal the
intensifying poverty of the Filipino people. And women bear the brunt of
the severity of this crisis.

Effects of a plummeting economy and livelihood push urban poor families
towards further misery. While they suffer from the uncertainty of
irregular source of livelihood, their homes and communities are being
demolished to give way to so-called urban development projects
ostensibly for the benefit of merely a few. Rather than a social
service, the government's housing project is, in fact, a profit-making
endeavour. The government has also turned its back on providing needed
social services, like health services, to the people.

Intensifying Political Repression

Meanwhile, repression of civil liberties and violation of human rights
persist. The state claims even pregnant women, elders and children as
victims. By 2008, reported human rights violations in the country have
involved 889 victims of political killings, which include 98 women
victims and 58 children. Among 179 cases of enforced disappearances are
29 women. Recently the military massacred 8 civilians including 2
children and 3 women, one of whom was pregnant.

Currently, there are 23 women who languish in jail for political
reasons; the most recent illegally arrested and detained was Elizabeth
Principe, a peace advocate and staunch supporter of the welfare of
farmers and indigenous peoples in the countryside. There are also 8
women victims of rape by the military. The list of human rights
violations continue, as these figures and cases have yet to include
thousands of women and children victims of forcible evacuation due to
massive militarization in the countryside. They experienced hunger,
trauma and various forms of sexual abuse.

The military's policy of rape and sexual abuse against women in
captivity is indeed enraging. The spine-chilling torture and rape the
military committed against missing students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn

Cadapan, and the sexual abuse experienced by 64-year old Angie Ipong in
the hands of her military captors cannot and shall not go unpunished.

As the economic and political crisis escalates, coupled with the further
intensification of the people's protest, we can only expect – caution
and condemnation notwithstanding – heightened attacks by the Arroyo
government against progressive organizations like GABRIELA.

Intensifying Women's Resistance

Our 8 March 2008 campaign is the persistence of the historic struggle
and victory of the women's movement as our own contribution to the
intensifying struggle of the Filipino people. We will unleash a strong
mass struggle of women against dire poverty, corruption and tyranny of
the Arroyo regime.

We will give particular emphasis on exposing the grave condition of
masses of women and the various forms of violence women experience in
the form of poverty and VAW, as we also criticize and expose the Arroyo
government's hunger mitigation program for what it really is: A fake
program by a fake President.

This March 8, we will conduct actions with the widest participation of
masses of women to fight for their right to livelihood, housing and
social services, for the future of their children and their families,
and for their right against violence, especially state violence. We will
unleash widespread and militant actions by women and the people against
the Arroyo regime's desperate grip on power.

Women are aware that only through their militant struggle, together with
the rest of the people and under the aegis of a national democratic
struggle, can the recurring and worsening crisis of the semi-colonial
and semi-feudal Philippine society meet its decisive end.

On this International Women's Day, let us vow to bring tens of thousands
of working women in a militant action to contribute to the struggle of
the working women of the world. Let us organize and mobilize women in
the unions and factories, in farms, in urban poor communities, schools
and offices around their local issues and concerns. Let us involve women
from numerous localities through solid and extensive education,
agitation, propaganda and local mass struggle campaigns. Elevating local
and sectoral issues to a political level is an essential part of our
endeavour. Our local, sectoral, national and regional actions shall lead
to massive and militant protest march of women and children on March 8
against the heightening exploitation and oppression of the women of the
world. This March 8 will also kick off GABRIELA's celebration of 25
years of struggle and triumphs next year.

Throughout the world, the struggle of working women against exploitation
is the key to our successful struggle against all forms of oppression.
Only where women are members of the working force and have collective
power will they learn to fight exploitation and oppression as women. We
need to fight the oppression of women towards our full participation in
the economic, political socio-cultural life of our community. The
struggle of organized working class women will end not only women's
oppression but women's exploitation as well.

Women Unite! Struggle against oppression and exploitation!

Fight corruption and tyranny! Oust President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo!

Long Live International Working Women's Day!

Long Live International Solidarity!