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March 10, 2009
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GABRIELA, a national alliance of women’s organizations in the
Philippines celebrates its 25th year this year. Innabuyog serves as
the regional chapter of GABRIELA in the Cordillera region.

As a chapter, Innabuyog carries the basic principles of GABRIELA which uphold and advance the rights and welfare of Filipino women in the context of struggling for national democracy. What is distinct of Innabuyog is it carries the particular rights and issues of indigenous women. Innabuyog does this not only for indigenous women in the Cordillera but also for indigenous women in the Philippines which have organized themselves as a national network called BAI.

GABRIELA does not view women as separate from society hence while
raising and addressing the particular issues of women, GABRIELA also seeks to address the wider issues of the Philippine society.

GABRIELA believes that only when the society is liberated that women
will be liberated. Women being half of society’s population can
contribute significantly to this social liberation if they are aware
of their situation, organize themselves to struggle and change the
agents or instruments of their oppression and act collectively as
women with other sectors of society for welfare and entitlements due
them. Thus, the slogan-- a woman’s place is in the struggle, her
family is the movement.

GABRIELA has imprinted in the people’s movement and the wider society
the role it played in establishing and advancing the progressive and
militant women’s movement. It is not only known as defender of
women’s rights and welfare, it also defends peoples’ rights and
welfare. Its advocacy and mission makes itself a target for state
repression. Having been established in 1984, during the later years
of Martial law of Marcos, it mobilized women from all sectors and
classes against the dictatorship. GABRIELA again demonstrated the
strength of women to oust a macho-fascist President, Joseph Estrada
in 2000 and continues to participate in isolating a graft ridden and
repressive regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Through years of
empowering women, GABRIELA has become the biggest militant
organization of women with chapters almost in all the regions of the
country. It has sectoral membership from professionals, church women,
peasants, workers, urban poor, youth and students, overseas Filipino
workers, indigenous women and Filipino women who have migrated
overseas. It has taken significant issues of women from the economic
to political and socio-cultural, from domestic violence to sexual to
political persecution and women’s human rights to women’s economic
rights. It fought for women’s rights in the communities, in the
factories and work places, in the streets and plazas, and other
public places and halls. In the early part of this decade, GABRIELA
brought women’s rights and issues in the halls of Congress through
its partylist Gabriela Women’s Party. The recognition of GABRIELA as
a women’s organization does not only ring in the country but also
overseas. GABRIELA continues to take part in international events
including that of the United Nations, as spaces to raise general and
specific concerns of Filipino women and toiling women of the world.
GABRIELA and its sectoral and regional chapters have also earned the
respect of women’s organizations and movements fighting globalization
and imperialism.

GABRIELA’s work on women’s human rights has been a push for
government to institute gender and development in its programs as
well as other institutions, to realize the Convention for the
Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and ensure the
role of women in nation building. Legislations in favor of women like
the Anti-Trafficking of Persons and Anti-Violence and Women and
Children (AVAWC) did not happen without push from women’s
organizations like GABRIELA.

We commence the 25th year of GABRIELA with our observance of this
year’s March 8 (International Working Womens Day). While we
celebrate, we also mobilize women against worsening hunger brought
about by the global economic crisis. The crunch is already felt by
most Filipino women. In the Cordillera, women working at the Baguio
Export Processing Zones are threatened of retrenchment. Already more
than 400 workers of the Texas Instrument were laid off, 80% are
women. Hunger and debt are stalking the families of workers of the
Lepanto mining company with the company’s labor flexibilization
scheme of 10 working days a month. Tertiary students, parents and
other sectors are already registering their protest against
impending tuition hikes. Indigenous peasants are reeling of
continuing high agricultural production costs, insufficient yield,
high cost of basic necessities including education and health, yet
government support for agricultural through its FIELDS (fertilizer,
irrigation, education, loans and driers) program is hardly reaching
the poor rural women. Most of the OFWs who are losing their jobs
abroad are women. 95% of the 6,000 OFWs who lost their jobs in
Taiwan are women. Yet scores of unemployed women in the Cordillera
will take risks in finding their way abroad through student visas
and by any means to keep their families surviving.

The Arroyo government responded through a stimulus package which is
but a repackage of old economic package which did not at all reduced
poverty but only increased graft and corruption. By this time,
government officials are already putting their attention in preparing
for the 2010 elections more than responding to urgent economic needs
of the people.

It is a challenge for women to take collective actions in demanding
economic relief and a long term sustainable economic package from
government. It is at this time that the national government should
protect local production—agriculture, industry and services, instead
of liberalizing a weak national economy. Unemployment subsidy should
be part of the stimulus package to relieve workers and their
families who are laid off from their jobs. Jobs and employment should
be protected and ensured instead of widespread retrenchment and low

Let us not be defeated by the crisis. Let us defeat it through our
organized and direct efforts. Let us continue strengthening our ranks
and make our collective voice heard as real survivors not just for
ourselves but for our families, communities, our class and the wider
society. #
Innabuyog-GABRIELA Cordillera


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