Take a Day Off, Join Protest on March 8: Gabriela

Meanwhile, peasant women also went to Manila last week to demand from Malacañang “immediate relief such as acquisition of motorized water-pumps, pipes and tubes, tractors, hand tractors, farm tools and carabaos; fertilizers and seeds,” in the light of the El Niño phenomenon afflicting their farms.

Women are “stakeholders on the issue of El Nino given that 70% of the labor force in the rice and corn agricultural production in the Philippines are women,” said Lita Mariano, spokesperson of Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women in a rally at Mendiola last week.

Amihan also slammed the government’s proposed solution of importation of rice to buffer the impact of drought on rice production, saying this is counterproductive in the long run.

With around 30 million Filipinos unwillingly jobless and underemployed, many fall prey to unscrupulous manpower service-providers who take advantage of the desperation of Filipino workers seeking employment abroad, said Sheila Ferrer, Gabriela Women’s Party Nominee and chairperson for Gabriela-NCR, in a camp-out of migrant Filipinos at the OWWA last week.

Ferrer said majority of the 12 million overseas Filipino workers are women. Gabriela joined the camp-out of migrant women workers whose abuse in Saudi Arabia had been facilitated by unscrupulous recruiters. Gabriela demanded justice for and payment of wages due to the migrant workers. It asked the government to also mind the OFWs, not just their remittances.

“Real Change” Remains a Pressing Need

This March 8 is the centennial of the International Working Women’s Day. Despite the inroads made by women through all these years, Gabriela said much still needs to be done. They called on all women and lovers and supporters of women to come out and join their mass actions.

Gabriela expects to gather 10,000 women all over the country who will “take the day off from work, including household chores, to take to the streets and protest the continuing crisis that burdens women and their families.”

Gabriela expects to be joined by some senatorial candidates, progressive partylist groups, candidates for local government positions, and other Liberal Party candidates. The day will start early in Metro Manila, where women will converge early morning in three separate locations (in Trabajo Market, España, in Araneta Ave. Cor. E. Rodriguez and in Sto. Domingo, Quezon Avenue).

They would march to converge in Welcome Rotonda, and after a brief program, will head to Mendiola for a longer program. They plan to burn an effigy of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

To finally start on the road to attaining what Filipino women (and men) want, Gabriela has suffused their week-long protest with pitches for “genuine national democracy.”

The group said more so this March, being the month of women, they will “highlight their political power to demand genuine change.” Gabriela is proud to extol women leaders such as current Gabriela Partylist Representatives Luz Ilagan and aspiring senator Liza Maza, as well as new nominees Emmi de Jesus and Sheila Ferrer. “These leaders are some of the prime descendants of the Philippine progressive women and mass movement,” said Lana Linaban, deputy secretary-general of Gabriela.

March 8 will be the culmination of Gabriela’s nationwide women’s action calling for an end to the Arroyo government and any machinations of hers to remain in power, said de Jesus. “Change starts with putting an end to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s reign of evil. She and her cohorts must be punished and jailed for the crimes they committed against the women and the people.” (Bulatlat.com)

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