Speech by Cynthia Tellez
Migrante Hong Kong
Women are in crisis. Women are victims of war and violence. But women – us – also resist.
Women migrant workers are no strangers to the impacts of the ongoing and intensifying global crisis. Women migrants feel it both in the country of their employment and their country of origin.
In the country of employment, the labor rights of women migrants are continuously eroded. Wages are either slashed or frozen, working conditions are not improved, days-off are denied and abuses are remain rampant. Social exclusion is the rule and laws and policies are made to keep women migrants in the gutter and be second- or third-class citizens.
Opportunities and services are kept closed from women migrants. They are contained in stereotyped employment such as domestic work and service industry while many are forced to be sex workers. Many women also become victims of trafficking and white slavery.
Meanwhile in the country of origin, widespread landlessness and unemployment push women to extreme poverty. The economic, political and socio-cultural structures in home countries maintain a condition where women from the working, peasant and middle classes are doubly oppressed.
Millions of women are forced by this condition to go abroad. Governments of sending countries capitalize on the vulnerability of these women to keep the flow of labor for export flowing, increase government revenues from state exaction, shortchange the right to services of women migrants, and increase the dollar remittance that is needed to keep the country’s economy going.
While the crisis rages on, war is used by powerful countries to maintain control of the world and force other countries to fall in line to their dictates.
The path of war that imperialists – chiefly the United States – have taken has led to an increase in militarism, fascism and repression of political and civil rights. Many have been killed, displaced from their community, unjustly imprisoned, tortured and suffered from physical and sexual violence. Some of the most heinous crimes in most repressive of times are committed against women.
But women’s resistance persists and develops.
This action today being led by the International Migrants Alliance – Hong Kong and the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body is a testament to the growing militance of migrant women to confront the condition that oppresses and exploits women. Our most militant salute to all our fellow women who are here right now!
Today, as a contribution to the continuing resistance of women, we launch the book “Women Resisting Crisis and War”. It is a collection of experiences of women as we live in a world in crisis and war. It is a collection of stories of how we cope and struggle. It is a valuable source of inspiration as it contains lessons of organizing and empowerment.
This book is published by the Asia Pacific Research Network – a network of leading research institutions in the region – and the International Women’s Alliance which is the global formation of grassroots women’s organizations. Members of the APRN in Hong Kong are leading regional NGOs – the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants and the Asian Monitor Resource Centre.
We are very proud to share with you this book from women from various countries. From Philippines to East Timor, from Indonesia to Australia and from various other countries, the stories contained in this book are valuable weapons for the continuing struggle of women for liberation and democracy against imperialism and national and gender oppression.