This year marks a historic celebration as we commemorate the 100th year of militant women’s tradition since the formation of the International Working Women’s Day. In 1911, millions of women in Europe and the US gathered and took their struggle to the streets to fight their oppression and for better working conditions. A century later, the women of the millennium is facing the worse impact of imperialist globalization as they experience the global depression and poverty. Local governments have prioritized the needs of corporations and instead deserted social and basic programs which has been essential services that is gravely needed by the working people. These cutbacks have mostly affected the local and migrant women and their children as they experienced discrimination, state abandonment and massive unemployment.
Filipino women comprise 60% of the 180, 000 Filipinos in the GTA, Rob Ford’s proposed cuts to transit, affordable housing, and recreational centres will certainly affect our families who are already marginalized as they are mostly under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, a federal government program that have put our women in a precarious and vulnerable situation. In spite of their professional training as nurses, engineers and teachers, this program has de-skilled our women and kept them working as caregivers, farm workers and hotel workers. They have been living in poverty line while being kept docile as they are forced to put up with abusive situations in fear of jeopardizing their temporary status. The federal government’s cut in immigration and settlement services presents in impediment to further the integration of our families to the Canadian society as they are reunited after long years of separation. Affordable and low-cost housing have been out-of-reach from the working people which leave parents with no choice but to work 2-3 jobs just to make ends meet leaving no time for the family that they just got reunited with.
In spite of all these, the women who are considered the breadwinners still manage to send money to their families back in the Philippines. The new puppet administration of President Benigno Aquino III has demonstrated false hope in the first 6 months of his administration. He has shown no difference from the other regimes as his policies have focused on encouraging foreign businesses to come in which in the past have mainly plundered our natural resources while garnering major profit from our cheap labor. Violations of job security are prevalent and contractualization is seen in 70% of industries that are dominated by women. Debt payment continues to be Aquino’s priority over social services which are seen in the measly proportion of the budget allotted to health, education, housing and social services that are already inaccessible to women and children. The severe breakdown of the Philippine society continues to force the people to migrate for survival even if their destination includes war-stricken countries. The number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) leaving the country has gone up to 4000 people everyday and they are facing a bleak future that is vulnerable to abuse, harassment and discrimination.There are still 6000 remaining distressed workers still stranded in Libya waiting for repatriation but still have not heard a word from the embassy.
We also stand in solidarity with the women of North Africa and the Middle East as they fought with the working peoples in their countries where they have long suffered from the claws of the corrupt, repressive and reactionary regimes.
As the global crisis intensifies, the women and the people of the world are ready to fight against imperialist policies and programs. We must educate, organize and mobilize to continue the militant tradition of the women who sacrificed for liberation and democracy.
Women unite and fight for our basic demands!
Service for the people, not profit for the few!
Long live the women of the world!
Advance the struggle for women’s liberation on to the 21st century!
GABRIELA-Ontario is a Filipino women’s organization speaking on issues that have great impact on women including the promotion and defense of their rights and welfare. Email: Gabriela.firstname.lastname@example.org