Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 09:20:02 -0500 (EST)
Message-Id: <>
From: Carole Samdup <>
Subject: apec-L: GABRIELA March 8 statement
Precedence: bulk

March 8: Women reveal the real issues

BAYAN press release, 8 March 1998

Around 10,000 women commemorating the 88th International Women's Day marched in key cities nationwide to reveal issues crucial to Filipino women today, far from the issues sold by presidential candidates projecting themselves to be pro-women.

Today, Filipino women continue to struggle against the perennial and escalating crisis gripping the nation brought about by imperialist globalization subserviently executed by the Ramos government, said GABRIELA Secretary General Liza Maza to around 3,000 people gathered at the Mendiola Bridge. The rallyists, composed of peasant women, workers, urban poor, youth, professionals, and advocates from Metro Manila and nearby provinces, earlier converged at the Welcome Rotonda.

Maza further stated that the whip of economic crisis hits hardest on women today with a government who is adamant in further opening up the Philippines to global competition but only succeeds in selling out the country's natural and human resources, particularly the women.

The first weeks of January alone saw the retrenchment of 200,000 agricultural workers, mostly women. While DOLE reports that the first quarter of 1998 registered some 24,000 laid-off factory workers, making prostitution and going abroad—as domestic helpers and entertainers—a forced option for women.

Filipino women suffer not only from abuse and exploitation as domestic helpers and entertainers in foreign countries, she said, but are also vulnerable to violence inherent in prostitution, to which many have resorted because of lack of employment, low wages and harsh labor conditions/policies, high prices of basic commodities, and dislocation due to massive land and crop conversions in the countryside. Hence, women from all sectors become more vulnerable to prostitution because of extreme poverty, Maza noted.

A cultural presentation, staged by Sining Lila, depicted the plight of the Filipino woman under US-Ramos sponsored policies on foreign investment and capital; on liberalization, privatization and deregulation; labor flexibility and export; and on tourism.

GABRIELA, thus, insists on unveiling the real women's agenda rather than riding on the election fever to rally behind a certain candidate, although it would certainly rally against some (presidential) candidates.

It was on this vein that the alliance released its six-point women's criteria for candidates to be supported: respects and promotes women's rights, upholds children's rights, no track record of human rights violations, supports the P100 wage increase, stands for genuine agrarian reform, and stands against all unequal economic treaties that undermine Philippine (economic) sovereignty and patrimony.

Thus, when asked by media on endorsing a political candidate, GABIELA chairperson Sr. Mary John Mananzan explained that the criteria are meant to reveal the real issues confronting us Filipino women, which are very far from what even the women candidates say. Maza added that the fact that a candidate is a woman does not automatically ensure that she will give voice and take action on these issues.

Similar march/rallies were also held in the cities of Cebu, Davao, Bacolod, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro and Tagbilaran. In the US, the GABRIELA Network in New York and Los Angeles held separate forums on women's issues, while GABRIELA San Francisco held a torchlight march and ritual with the theme Celebrating women's courage, resistance and strength. The GABRIELA Network in Australia and Japan also held marches and rallies, raising particular women's issues in the Philippines.