GABRIELA National Alliance of Women in the Philippines sends its solidarity to women all over the world in commemoration of March 8 International Women's Day!
This year, we commemorate the International Women's Day amidst crisis and war.
Poverty among the toiling people in countries all over the world worsens with the protracted global economic crisis. The implementation of US-prescribed neo-liberal policies, as abetted by puppet governments and local ruling classes, intensifies and do not resolve the fundamental issues of poverty of peoples but serves to feed the greed of foreign monopoly capitalists for super-profits.
In colony and neo-colony countries, U.S. imperialist colludes with local governments to implement economic plans and programs within the neo-liberal framework despite its catastrophic impact on local economies and the lives of the people.
In the Philippines, President Benigno "P-Noy" Aquino banners the Philippine Development Plan covering six years (2011-2016). This program's flagship, the Public-Private Partnership Program, favors the insatiable greed for profits of foreign and domestic corporations contrary to the people's long-time demand for land, jobs and livelihood, and adequate social services.
As in most parts of the world, the Filipino people are being burdened with incessant increases in the price of oil and, consequently, other commodities and utilities. The monopoly of a handful of transnational oil companies on the global oil industry allows them to manipulate the price of oil in the world market. Their greed for profit is the primary reason for the overpricing of oil products consequently leading to the bludgeoning impact on the daily lives of peoples all over the world.
Imperialism and puppet governments in Asia, Latin America and other regions make women and children more vulnerable to exploitation and endanger their lives by rapidly supporting large-scale logging and mining of foreign corporations, which not only devastate the environment, but also the lives and livelihood of the people. In the Philippines, laws such as the Mining Act of 1995 allow unabated plunder of our lands and natural resources by foreign monopoly capitalists and continue to wreak havoc on the lives the people.
While the foreign corporations profit by plundering minerals and other natural resources, millions of people are dislocated from their homes and livelihoods; food scarcity and even diseases and calamities are the result of massive land use conversion, land grabbing, displacement from ancestral lands, contamination of land and water sources.
Economic desperation, particularly within the peasant and indigenous communities affected by large-scale mining, results in increased number of child labor, as well as women forced to enter prostitution. Thus, families are forced to migrate to urban centers where both women and men find no work or are forced into working under dangerous conditions.
As the economic crisis intensifies, all forms of violence against women worsen.
Disappearing opportunities for livelihood force women into prostitution. Job insecurity makes women more vulnerable to sexual violence in the work place. The prevalent low regard for women with state and social institutions propagating feudal and bourgeois-patriarchal culture perpetuates such violence. Such backward cultures pervasive among law enforcers and the judiciary also discourages VAW victims/survivors and their families from fighting for justice; more so when persons in authority, such as police and military, are the perpetrators of violence against women and children.
Violence against women is systematically perpetrated and institutionalized in government measures to repress the people's dissent. Human rights violations in the form of militarization, murder, kidnapping and illegal arrests, continue to victimize women and children as an answer to the growing discontent and massive anti-government protests in many countries.
As the protracted global economic crisis takes its toll on its economy, the United States government, in its desperation, is taking on measures antagonistic even to its own citizenry to salvage the dominant yet moribund world system of monopoly capitalism.
Currently, U.S. and Israel are cooking up military aggression against Iran, who on the other hand is supported by Russia and China. Israel's direct attack on Iran might trigger a war in the Middle East involving the world's super powers leading to the sacrifice of lives and limbs of the people of the world.
If the US has waged war against Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and is threatening to attack Iran in its dire need for oil, there is nothing that will keep them from provoking war in Asia. This is evident in the recent US military posturing against China on the issue of the Spratly Islands, an oil rich area being claimed by China, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Last year, the US declared the Asia Pacific Century as part of its policy, shifting its focus from Afghanistan and Iraq to the so-called second front in Asia Pacific. The Philippines, as a major ally of the US in the region plays an important role in the US' bid to regain military and economic supremacy. Thus, talks between the Aquino government and the US government are set this March to discuss plans regarding the deployment of more US military troops as part of the Mutual Defense Treaty. Beneath the so-called regional security, the baser interest of US imperialism is to keep its stronghold in the economies of countries within the Asia Pacific especially at this dire time of protracted global economic depression.
Recently the Philippine government, headed by Pres. "P-Noy" Aquino, revealed and approved its plan to host more US military troops in the country. Around 4,700 troops, formerly stationed in Okinawa, Japan, will be in rotation between the Philippines and Australia for expanded joint military exercises and regular patrolling of US war ships of the country's waters.
Increased US military presence meant increase in cases of violence against women and children as in the experiences of the Philippines, Japan, South Korea and the Middle Eastern countries. In times of wars of aggression, women and children, while being displaced are also raped and abused, trafficked and prostituted.
As in the past though, women refuse to be daunted.
We organize in communities, schools, offices and factories and educate the broadest number of women towards asserting our rights and against all attacks on our lives and livelihood.
We are taking part in protests all over the world, denouncing governments for pouring billions of dollars in tax payers' money to bail out banks while millions of people are left with no jobs, no social benefits, no houses and no source of livelihood. Women are protesting government austerity measures supposedly to prevent total economic downfall but deprive the people of their welfare and violate their rights. Women are linking arms with the rest of the people all over the world in all forms of struggle towards ending imperialist greed and building a world social system where there is justice, and there is no poverty, no inequality, no violence and no discrimination.
Long live the fighting women of the world!
Women unite, end imperialist greed!
Down with imperialism!
GABRIELA National Alliance of Women in the Philippines
2012 March 8