Statement of Innabuyog on the occasion of International Women’s Day
On the occasion of International Working Women’s Day on 8 March 2013, the progressive women’s movement in the Cordillera will continue to strike, dance and rise for Cordillera women’s land, food and rights. We will carry out a women’s agenda that embody the aspirations of toiling women and their communities and our vision of good governance which will be our frame of criteria in choosing candidates and political parties who will be wooing women’s votes in the upcoming May 13, 2013 elections.
Let us not forget the militant history of March 8
March 8 is a product of the toiling women’s militancy. On March 8, 1857 women workers from the garments industry first marched in the streets of New York, USA in protest of low wages, 12-hour working day and generally inhuman working conditions. These protesting women workers were brutally attacked by the police and many were arrested. Again on 8 March 1908, about 30,000 women workers began a series of actions over the same issues, but this time with the demands for the right to women’s suffrage and an end to child labor. It was on 8 March 1910 that the International Labor Movement declared March 8 as International Day of Working Women to commemorate previous actions of women workers and the important role of women in the labor movement. The declaration was led by Clara Zetkin, a socialist labor leader. Since then, women’s movements all over the world observe March 8 as International Women’s Day including the UN and governments. The first known commemoration of International Working Women’s Day in the Philippines was on 8 March 1971 that was spearheaded by MAKIBAKA, an organization of women students where hundreds of members of the Katipunan ng Bagong Kababaihan (KATIPUNAN) marched against the issue of poverty.
From marching to policy advocacy and serving as women’s voice in the Philippine Congress
The Philippine government being a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is mandated to come out with national policy, laws and action plan in institutionalizing women’s rights and empowerment. Resulting from the women’s militant struggles are national laws such as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (RA 9208), Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004 (RA 9262) and the Magna Carta of Women of 2009 (RA 9710) all of which the Gabriela Women’s Party through former and current Representatives Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan respectively played a key role in their passage into laws. The Gender and Development Budget policy mandated government institutions to allocate a minimum of 5% of their budget to gender and development. Gender and Development codes by some local government units had been created including the City of Baguio and Sagada, Mountain Province. However, their implementation is another challenge altogether. The pervasive feudal-patriarchial nature of state institutions stonewalls the effectivity of these positive laws. Much remains to be done despite the advances achieved by the women’s movement.
On another note, rights and welfare gained by the progressive women’s movement led by Innabuyog is taken back by the national economic development plan that allows entry of corporate mining, energy, agri-business and tourism projects. These projects are secured by a national internal security plan codenamed Oplan Bayanihan which endanger the rights of women resisting development aggression. Such development and security plans destroy the development of indigenous women and their communities in their quest to become self-reliant and empowered communities.
Pursue the Cordillera women’s agenda for land, food and rights
1) Food Security and Environment Sustainability. Control and sound use of land and natural resources should be in the hands of our communities, not for government to sell to corporations and to people already in power.
2) Regular Jobs and Equal Economic Opportunities for Women. Job and economic opportunities should not equate to sending our women overseas as slaves. Local jobs which are sustainable and supported by government should be a priority and livelihood created by women should not be allowed to be devoured by big businesses.
3) Women’s Access to Social Services. A higher budget should be allocated to health, education and welfare services that are accessible and that would reduce the morbidity, mortality, illiteracy and disempowerment of women and their families. The delivery of social services should not be another source of corruption for officials and concerned government agencies.
4) Protection of Women from all Forms of Violence including Respect for the Rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexuals and Trans-gendered (LGBT). A reduction in the cases of violence against women and children should be seriously worked out. Action towards the prevention of violence against women and children must be conducted and services to victims of violence against women and children including the LGBTs, be ensured.
5) Justice for Victims of Human Rights Violations especially Women Victims. This entails strong political will to disallow use of militarization and state repression against communities, leaders and organizations who are asserting their rights and their own governance of their communities.
As a women’s movement which set up the Gabriela Women’s Partylist, we will once again campaign for the maximum seats in Congress for Gabriela Women’s Partylist which had served as the women’s voice in parliament in the last 10 years, support other progressive partylists to galvanize the voices of the true marginalized sectors, and install a genuine representation of the marginalized in the Senate through Teddy Casino.
We will defy the demonization campaign against progressive party-lists and candidates by state forces and their cohorts. Such act of desperation by the Aquino government to use dirty tactics to tarnish the legitimacy of principled groups advancing the cause of women, indigenous peoples and the welfare of the Filipino people is proof of their worthless governance.
Let this Agenda be our MINIMUM CRITERIA IN CHOOSING CANDIDATES in the 13 May 2013 elections. Let this Agenda be our VOICE in dealing with the politicians and political parties who will woo the votes of women. Let this Agenda be ANOTHER STEP OF WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT in making the women a force to contend with during elections. Let this Agenda ADVANCE our aspirations on good governance and politics of change.
Strike, Dance and Rise in celebration of the 103rd year of International Working Women’s Day!
Carry out the Cordillera Women’s Agenda for Land, Food and Rights and have these adopted by candidates seeking political positions!
Organize and mobilize the women’s strength to defy dirty and repressive politics!