CELEBRATE 100 YEARS OF INTERNATIONAL WORKING WOMEN'S DAY
March 8 is a product of the toiling women’s militancy. On March 8, 1857 women workers from the garments industry first marched in the streets of New York, USA in protest of low wages, 12-hour working day and generally inhuman working conditions. These protesting women workers were brutally attacked by the police and many were arrested.
Again on March 8, 1908, 30,000 women workers began a series of actions over the same issues, but this time with the demands for the right to women’s suffrage and an end to child labor.
It was on March 8, 1910 that the International Labor Movement declared March 8 as International Day of Working Women to commemorate previous actions of women workers and the important role of women in the labor movement. The declaration was led by Clara Zetkin, a socialist labor leader.
Since then, women’s movements all over the world observe March 8 as International Women’s Day including the UN and governments. The UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination
Against Women (CEDAW) and other international instruments recognizing women’s rights and empowerment are fruits of women’s struggles. On the national sphere, the creation of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) and the mainstreaming of Women and Development are products of strong advocacy and lobby of women’s organizations and movements. Hence the 5% Gender and Development (GAD) fund for local government units and agencies and the creation of Gender and Development Codes in some local government units including Baguio City.
Resulting from the women’s militant struggles are progressive national laws such as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (RA 9208), Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004 (RA 9262) and the Magna Carta of Women of 2009 (RA 9710) all of which Rep. Liza Maza of the Gabriela Women’s Party played a key role in their passage into laws. However, their implementation is another challenge altogether. The pervasive feudal-patriarchial nature of state institutions stonewalls the effectivity of these progressive laws. Much remains to be done despite the advances achieved by the women’s movement.
The persistence of a backward culture such as feudal-patriarchy is exacerbated by national policies of economic liberalization, deregulation and privatization by the present Arroyo government. In its dogged compliance to the dictates of the world’s economic giants, the regime causes hunger and poverty of millions of Filipinos while amassing huge profits while in power. Such shameless subservience has led to the continuing loss of livelihood and jobs of toiling women and their communities, intensified food insecurity, women and children’s deprivation of much needed social services and commission of violence against women in all imaginable forms. The Arroyo regime’s puppetry to the dictates of the world capitalist system is stunting the gains of women’s struggles and recreating modern day slavery of women.
There is global talk about climate crisis but toiling women and their communities see this as a result of the capitalist countries and their corporations’ unprecedented greed for profit and power. Toiling women, particularly farmers and indigenous women suffer from the impact but again are forced to adapt and practice the governments’ and corporations’ mitigation measures which are still profit or market-driven.
In celebrating the centennial of March 8, we assert a women’s agenda that embody the aspirations of toiling women and their communities and our vision of good governance. This is also our frame of criteria in choosing candidates and political parties who will be wooing women’s votes in the upcoming May 10, 2010 joint local and national elections.
The Women’s Agenda
- Food Security and Environment Sustainability. Control and sound use of land and natural resources should be in the hands of our communities, not for government to sell to corporations and to people already in power.
- Regular Jobs and Equal Economic Opportunities for Women. Job and economic opportunities should not equate to sending our women overseas as slaves. Local jobs which are sustainable and supported by government should be a priority and livelihood created by women should not be allowed to be devoured by big businesses.
- Sufficient Social Services for Women. A higher budget should be allocated to health, education and welfare services that are accessible and that would reduce the morbidity, mortality, illiteracy and disempowerment of women and their families. The delivery of social services should not be another source of corruption for officials and concerned government agencies.
- Protection of Women from all Forms of Violence including Respect for the Rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexuals and Trans-gendered. A reduction in the cases of violence against women and children should be seriously worked out. Advocacy on women’s rights and participation to community development should be truly carried out. Action towards the prevention of VAWC must be conducted and services to victims of violence against women and children including the LGBTs, be ensured.
- Justice for Victims of Human Rights Violations especially Women Victims. This entails strong political will to disallow use of militarization and state repression against communities, leaders and organizations who are asserting their rights and their own governance of their communities.
As a women’s movement which set up the Gabriela Women’s Partylist, we will once again campaign for the maximum seats in Congress for Gabriela Women’s Partylist. We will ensure the aspirations of women in the Senate through Liza Maza who in her nine years in Congress proved committed to the cause of the women’s movement in the Philippines.
We will defy the demonization campaign against progressive party-lists and candidates by state forces and their cohorts. Such act of desperation by the state to use dirty tactics to tarnish the legitimacy of principled groups advancing the cause of women, indigenous peoples and the welfare of the Filipino people is proof of their worthless governance.
Celebrate the 100 years of struggles for women’s liberation!
Advance the Women’s Agenda on Good Governance!
Raise to a higher level the militant history of March 8 as International Working Women’s Day.
Innabuyog, Gabriela Women’s Partylist-Cordillera chapter, LESBOND, Sigma Delta Pi Sorority, Gender Desk-Student Council of UP Baguio, Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa (SAMAKANA)
March 8, 2010