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Asian Women at WTO Protests
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance website
Posted: December 13,, 2005
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The 6th ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization will be held in Hong Kong on December 13-18, 2005. Ministerial meetings are the highest level of decision-making at the WTO which take place every 2 years. It will be recalled that the ministerials held in Seattle in 1999 and in Cancun, Mexico in 2003 were derailed, a result of mass protests of various peoples’ organizations all over the world to pressure the ministers in entering and pursuing new agreements. The peoples’ protests in Hong Kong and in various parts of the world, women included, will mark the completion of a decade of the neo-liberal, global trade regime.

Among the major issues that member-countries must reach consensus on are market access for manufactured goods, reviews of agreements on trade in services, agriculture and intellectual property rights, and the so-called Singapore issues (investment protection, competition policy, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation).

The clear-cut agenda is to open up market in accordance with neo-liberal imperatives while the vast majority of WTO members, the underdeveloped countries under neo-liberal plunder will be put under pressure in this meeting by US and EU measures.

The US and EU countries which spend about US7 billion on agricultural subsidies have unequivocally declared their unwillingness to reduce their subsidies before 2012. The US and EU often resort to a number of tariff and non-tariff barriers against products of poor countries under the guise of anti-dumping. In rich countries such as the US, the entire trade in services is a monopoly of imperialist finance capital. The opening of trade in services in poor countries means bringing it under the hegemony of imperialist capital and is going to be another onslaught on toiling women all over the world.

Asian Women’s Call: Don’t Globalize Hunger! WTO, Get Out of Our lives!
Asia-Pacific accounts 2/3 of the world’s poor, half of this are women and mostly depending on agriculture for their subsistence. Women from Asia-Pacific accounts about 32% of the world’s population. About 60% of food production in the region are done by women.

Directly and primarily involved in food production are indigenous, peasant and rural women. To them, the WTO agreements specifically the Agreement on Agriculture only meant deeper poverty and hunger.
Subsistence commercial agricultural production is being killed by the influx of cheap imported agricultural products. Local agricultural products of rural women are left to rot just like the tons of garlic in Ban Mai Khi village in Chiang Mai, Thailand and tons of temperate vegetables in Benguet and Mountain Province in the Cordillera, Philippines. Unable to cope with the impact of agricultural liberalization, indigenous and peasant women are forced to out-migrate to the urban and even overseas, are reduced as farm workers or semi-workers and are subjected to various forms of violence against women and slavery, even forced to sell their bodies just to have rice for the next meal.

Indigenous and peasant women were already living a difficult situation of bankruptcy even before WTO. National governments have a policy bias against traditional, indigenous crop production technology. Most governments have a policy thrust of promoting modern crops and production technology developed by transnational companies. Governments continue to promote high-input farming which were first developed during the Green Revolution. Governments continue to promote farming with new hybrids whose seeds are viable only for first generation use (suicide seeds). Only a small or no subsidies for agriculture are provided by the state, not even basic infrastructures and services that would ease and improve the production of farmers. Governments have truly neglected their responsibility and indigenous and peasant women are left on their own.

Asian women will resist new agreements and they will demand WTO to get out of our lives! Hunger and poverty brought about by WTO is already intolerable. Violence against women in various forms and degrees is happening all around in their efforts to remedy and address hunger and poverty.

The Asian Women’s Village
Asian women attending the people’s actions against WTO in Hong Kong will build the Asian Women’s Village at the Victoria Park which will be a site for solidarity among Asian women and advocates. This will be a site where Asian women will hold dialogues, share their tales and experiences about the destruction caused by WTO and trade liberalization, and their responses. It will also be a site to exchange their local products and campaign materials, a place to rest and met other women and anti-WTO activists. The opening ceremony take place in the morning of December 14 and the village will be open until December 17.

Women’s Tribunal
On December 16, women from different Asian countries will bring their testimony and presentations to a jury composed of 5 respectable women who are activists, members of the parliament and academe. The women to present their testimonies are peasants, fishers, agricultural workers, indigenous and herders. The tribunal is intended to strengthen the call for junking WTO though women’s true experiences.

Patches of Women’s Resistance towards Global Resistance and Women’s March

Asian women will bring patches of slogans against WTO which they have sewn in their own villages or countries. The patches will be sewn together to come out with a huge patches of women’s resistance which will be displayed at the Asian Women’s Village and will be marched during the Women’s March after the Women’s Tribunal. The patches are live words of women all over Asia to express their anger and call to dismantle the WTO. Asian women with their slogans to junk WTO and in their purple attires will march in Hong Kong to bring their voices heard to the WTO ministers, governments and most of all the public who is monitoring the WTO event.

Women’s Press Briefing
To share with the press their stories, experiences and actions, leaders of Asian women’s organizations will hold a press briefing in the morning of December 17 at the Asian Women’s Village.

Other activities will be discussions and forums on the Agreement on Agriculture and book launching.
The Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) will be coordinating the Asian women’s activities with the active participation of its task force members including Innabuyog of the Cordillera, Philippines, Amihan of the Philippines, Banteay Sri of Cambodia, Thanal of India, Roots of Equity of Pakistan, Center of Human Rights and Development of Mongolia, All Nepal Women’s Association of Nepal, Korean Federation for Environment Movement of Korea and Solidaritas Perempuan of Indonesia.

By the APWLD Press Team:
Judy Pasimio, APWLD;
Vernie Yocogan-Diano, Innabuyog-Gabriela Cordillera;
Asha, APWLD;


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