Over the last three days, from 31 July - 2 August 2007, 52 Asian rural women in 14 countries have come together in Manila, Philippines for the Asian Rural Women's Regional Consultation, a landmark meeting organised by the Steering Committee consisting of GABRIELA Philippines, TENAGANITA Malaysia, Human Development Organisation Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu Women's Forum India, All Nepal Women's Alliance, Committee for Asian Women (CAW), Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination (IMADR) and Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PAN AP). This consultation aims to strengthen the rural women's movement, as we forge links among peasant, indigenous, agricultural women, Dalit women, workers, migrants and women's movements.
In the consultation, we shared the harsh realities of rural women's lives made more difficult by increasing globalization. The process of globalization has disempowered rural and indigenous women. This process driven by G8 countries, perpetuated by the WTO, bilateral and regional trade agreements like the ASEAN, sustained by International Financial Institutes such as the World Bank and the IMF benefits the landlords, elites and TNCs. And this is all being done in collusion with governments.
Globalization processes through the strategy of flexibilization of labor have caused the greatest destruction of formal and regular work worldwide. Forced migration and trafficking driven by global market economy and the consequent rural crisis is subjecting women to increased violence, abuse, exploitation, discrimination and criminalization, further denying rights as workers and as migrants.
Caste discrimination and class exploitation are eroding the right to life of Dalit women and children.
The increasing privatization of the heath sector has led to rural women having no access to accurate and appropriate health information and comprehensive and affordable health services. Rural women suffer from pregnancy- and child-related deaths and disabilities, unsafe abortion, HIV/AIDS, reproductive cancers, and physical and sexual violence.
Militarization and the US-led global "war on terror", closely implemented by national governments and new repressive legislations are being used to suppress people's resistance and legitimate demands, destroying natural resources, homes and livelihoods. In the guise of security, repressive governments are carrying out extrajudicial killings and the forced disappearance of men, women and children. Ethnic conflicts and civil wars are causing forced displacement of thousands of people. Women in conflict areas are raped as a tool of war, killed and forced to "service" the armed forces and in extreme circumstances, victims of genocide.
We demand land for women and access to productive resources such as seeds, water, and forest and pasture lands. We call for the elimination of pesticides, genetically engineered seeds and patents on life and the promotion of organic and biodiversity based ecological agriculture. 'Development" projects that oppress rural women such as dams, mining, corporate agriculture, contract farming, and sex and health tourism, industrial aquaculture should be ceased immediately.
We call for the end to grabbing of ancestral lands and other resources, and demand for rights to self determination.
We demand just wages, humane working conditions, secure work, right to health and safety at work, right to organize, to collective bargaining and right to association.
We demand the end of forced migration. For migrant workers now, we demand protection of all rights including the right to stay or move with dignity.
We call for the end of caste discrimination system and untouchability practices.
We assert our sexual and reproductive rights, control over bodies and the end to exploitative use of sex selective and other reproductive technologies. We demand the right to decide on contraception, marriage, pregnancy and child birth, and education.
We demand an end to all state-initiated wars. We demand justice for human rights defenders and affected communities. We call for the removal of all US bases in Asia, and the prioritization of budget allocations for food production, education and health and social services over military budgets.
Rural women continue to resist imperialist globalization, fundamentalism, patriarch, caste and all forms of discrimination and violence, feudalism, militarization and undemocratic governments. We will strengthen our movements and consolidate our voices for economic, social, cultural and political changes at the local, national, and global level. We assert all rights for empowerment and liberation. In solidarity, we call on all sectors and people's movements to join us in this struggle as we move towards the Rural Women's Conference in Chennai in March 2008 for Rights, Empowerment and Liberation. Long Live Rural Women's Solidarity!!!