2019 International Working Women’s Day statement
8 March 2019
On the 110th anniversary of International Working Women’s Day, BAYAN Canada, an alliance of 17 Philippine organizations in Canada, celebrates with Filipino women at home and around the world in and their struggle against imperialism, feudalism and patriarchy. We recognize the hundreds of thousands of women who stood up and struggled against all odds, who fought alongside Filipino men against colonialism, imperialism, dictatorship towards the liberation of the Filipino people against all odds.
We march forward and carry with us the militant legacy and power of Pinay workers and peasants, human rights defenders, indigenous women land defenders, women guerrillas throughout our struggle for independence and liberation. Filipino women belong to a long line of feisty, strong, and committed Filipino women — Henerala Gabriela Silang, Teresa Magbanua, Tandang Sora, Pura Villanueva Kalaw, Kumander Liwayway and Captain Nieves Fernandez, Lorena Barros, Liliosa Hilao, Maita Gomez, and the anti-imperialist and democratic organization MAKIBAKA founded during the Marcos dictatorship.
It is well to remember that the idea of having a Day for Women was first proposed in 1910 by socialist and communist leader Clara Zetkin at the second International Conference of Working Women. Because of the successful and powerful protest strike on March 8, 1857 by the women garment workers in New York , Zetkin proposed that March 8 be celebrated as International Women’s Day. In 1911, women in several countries in Europe marked International Women’s day with parades and demonstrations. It would take the United Nations many decades later, specifically 1977, to proclaim March 8 as a UN Day for Women.
March 8th is a day to remember the sacrifices, gains and strides made by working class women all over the world and a day to remain firm in a vision of a society that is free and just, with basic rights like food, health care, education, water, pay equity, etc. that available to everyone, not just a few.
With today’s Philippine worsening economic conditions, Filipino women continue to protest, raise their voices, take to the streets to resist and unite to frustrate the attacks on our people by the US-Duterte regime. Under the neoliberal US- Duterte regime, the Philippines is one of the highest gendered labour sending countries in the world with 6,000 Filipinos, 60 percent of whom are women, leaving the country each day for jobs abroad. The increasing feminization of migration is a result of rampant poverty, joblessness, and landlessness that the government has failed to resolve.
The misogynist and sexist Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte continues to be a national and international embarrassment with his verbal and legal attacks on women critical of his rule. Such may have set back the gains the women’s movement has made in advancing equality in the country, but these conditions also made women to continually remain steadfast and fight back. With changing political current and shifting social mores, Philippine women would thrive playing the activist role against a macho-fascist regime.
BAYAN-Canada earnestly commits in recruiting more women in our allied organizations and cultivate working-class women leadership as our answer to oppression and super-exploitation by imperialism. We denounce any and every human rights violations against women in the Philippines, Canada and elsewhere. Our practice reflects the collective strength to galvanize the international women’s movement, for national and social liberation.
As Ma. Lorena Barros, founding chair of MAKIBAKA, described the new Filipino woman emerging from her participation in the national struggle: “The new woman, the new Filipina, is first and foremost a militant” so must she be “engaged in the making of history.”
Rise against fascism and tyranny!
Resist neoliberal exploitation of migrant workers!
Unite for genuine liberation of women and all oppressed peoples!
Chairperson: Christopher Sorio
Vice-Chairperson: Sheryl Ann Montano
Secretary General: Rhea Gamana
Finance Officer: Remegio Pajadura
Propaganda Officer: Yshmael Cabana
BAYAN Canada, an overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance), is an alliance of organizations of Filipino migrant workers, women and youth, indigenous people, churchpeople, healthcare workers and professionals committed to advancing the cause of genuine national independence, people’s democracy and a just and lasting peace in the Philippines.