As we celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) stands with solidarity with the millions of women throughout the globe that continue to fight against the structures of patriarchy, capitalism, and feudalism. These intertwining systems of oppression continue to deny the rights of women and rob them a dignified and secure life. For this year’s celebration of women’s historic role in society and especially in the social movements for fundamental change, we are marching hand in hand with our sisters in the World March of Women – Pilipinas.
While our struggle is global, in the Philippines, the attacks on women are currently happening under the broader context of the systemic assault on the rights of people under the present administration. While the Duterte government was elected to, and continues to legitimize itself as a regime committed to change, it has demonstrated that its true interests are with the powerful elite that benefit from the continued
From the implementation of Executive Order 70 – which has led to the red-tagging and harassment of legitimate progressive organizations as well as intensified Trade Union repression, to the broken promise of ending Endo, the present administration has shown time and time again that it is against the interests of working people and their families. More recently, the current government has demonstrated its extreme indifference to the plight of working men and women through its botched efforts at handling the current corona virus outbreak.
OFWs, including hundreds of thousands of women in the care and service economy, have borne the brunt of the government’s lack of funding for basic services and the absence of government support for the creation of dignified jobs in the country. Workers who are forced to look for employment abroad are punished for this by the government through travel bans to destination countries with more robust health systems and services while our own health facilities and capabilities are sorely underequipped to deal with the gravity of the current crisis.
Aside from this, the prevalence of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) from mainland China have clearly revealed the deadly combination of profit, misogyny, and government coddling. More than a violation of Philippine sovereignty through cases as the pastillas scheme, the entry of POGOs in the country also comes hand in hand with the expansion of prostitution and human trafficking. Many vulnerable women and young girls either through coercion or circumstance, have found themselves shackled in these deplorable networks built on the systemic violation of women.
In response to these attacks and broken promises, SENTRO calls upon the brave and powerful women of our union to continue our struggle together with our sisters and allies at home and abroad in reclaiming spaces for women’s political, economic, and cultural participation. In response to the systemic disenfranchisement and objectification of women, we assert our agency as political actors – fighting alongside our brothers in the social movements and trade unions for a more just and humane society.
Chief among our actions and efforts is towards ending Violence Against Women in the world of work. Our union is also one of the primary voices calling for the ratification of ILO Convention 190, which recognizes that everyone has the right to a world free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence. At the same time, while we have succeeded in increasing women’s maternity leave, we will also push for the ratification of Convention 183 to make sure that our maternity protection will also take a look on the mother and the child’s proper condition of health, with a suitable standard of living. We will not stop in actively rejecting the current attempts to form a separate department for OFWs as an expression of the institutionalization of exporting labor, a subtle admission that the Duterte government is continuing the decades old practice of simply shipping workers abroad instead of proving opportunities at home. Last but not the least, we reiterate our call for the passage of an authentic security of tenure (SOT) bill, one that guarantees the protection of jobs against the scourge of contractualization.
As we confront the various struggles faced by women, we take inspiration from our commitment to socialist feminism as we simultaneously break the chains that have kept women docile and silent, and forge on ahead to create our envisioned society together with our brothers in the different movements for social transformation.
In our celebration of women today, we reaffirm our view that our oppression, and at the same time, our liberation, is intersectional. Women are affected by a multitude of issues – from wages, to housing, food security, security of tenure and land rights among others and thus have the right to participate in tackling these problems. At the same time, these issues are also intertwined with the reality of patriarchy and misogyny, making it both futile and ultimately self-defeating to tackle these issues without recognizing the plight, and potential, of women. We thus march today celebrating the gains, loses, and lessons of the women that have gone before us as we prepare ourselves for the future fights to come.
Peministang Lipunan Pandayin! Karahasan sa Kabaihan, Basagin! Mabuhay ang Kababaihan!