“Women’s supposed domination of small and medium scale businesses do not prove inclusiveness and gender equality, it only masks the ugly truth that the lack of jobs in industry forces the majority to become self-account vendors and home-based sweatshop hands to escape hunger and death.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — As of Sept 27, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies have agreed to adopt the “APEC Iloilo Initiative,” a framework for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to explore electronic commerce (e-commerce) and digital economy. It is simply like an electronic bulletin board where giant companies can post their needs and small enterprises can bid to supply it.
Given that other APEC meetings happening this year are seeking to further bring down trade constraints in the region, this e-commerce is also expected to enjoy greater freedom of trade.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) comprise a declared key topic in this year’s APEC meetings. In the Philippines, SMEs make up 61 percent of enterprises. But they could not really expect a boon from APEC, the PCAIG (People’s Campaign Against APEC and Imperialist Globalization) said in a statement distributed to the media last week. It noted that amid APEC-driven liberalization in trade and investment rules, Philippine SMEs are actually going down than flourishing.
Yearly since 2000, around 2,520 of SMEs in the Philippines have been closing down due to economic liberalization, according to data from the labor department. With APEC thrust this year to push SMEs into greater integration with the ‘global value chains,’ progressive groups gathered in PCAIG said what remains of local SMEs will further become adjuncts of the global economy, continuing the slow death of the remnants of what could have been seeds for growing domestic industries.
Even APEC’s praises for women’s participation in SMEs are also to be taken with a grain of salt, as it misses the real picture, said Gabriela, a national women’s alliance that is also member of PCAIG.
“Women’s supposed domination of small and medium scale businesses do not prove inclusiveness and gender equality, it only masks the ugly truth that the lack of jobs in industry forces the majority to become self-account vendors and home-based sweatshop hands to escape hunger and death,” said Gabriela Women Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan.
She dismissed the recent APEC-concocted partnership between the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Coca-Cola called the TESDA-STAR program, which stands for the Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources Program.
Reacting also to a speech delivered by President Aquino at the “APEC Women and the Economy 2015: Public-Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy” in Manila held on Sept. 18, Gabriela Representative Ilagan described Aquino’s statements as “sugar-coated lies that will force women into accepting slavery wages and temp jobs in the global supply chains promoted by APEC.”