On marking Int’l Women’s Day: Anakpawis calls for jobs, land, justice and peace

Peasant women demands genuine agrarian reform and stop to militarization at a protest.Peasant women demands genuine agrarian reform and stop to militarization at a protest.

On marking Int’l Women’s Day
Anakpawis calls for jobs, land, justice and peace

Manila, Philippines – Anakpawis party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao today joined the protest led by Gabriela women’s group to mark the International Women’s Day. Casilao called the public and women sector to join the national struggle in protecting the rights to jobs, land, as well as pursuance of justice and peace in the country.

“We mark the Women’s Day, by reiterating that this day was instigated by the toiling women’s struggle for social reforms such as the massive strike launched by tens of thousands of women garment workers in New York in 1909,” Casilao said.

The United Nations adopted March 8 as International Women’s Day in 1975 and cited that the historical women strike as its preceeding foundation. The New York shirtwaist strike of 1909, also known as Uprising of the 20,000, was a labor strike primarily involving Jewish women working in New York shirtwaist factories that demanded better pay, shorter hours and equal treatment of unionized and non-unionized workers. The strike was successful after about three months and their demands were given in February 1910.

Another significant event cited by the UN, was when Women’s Day was marked as opposition to World War I in 1913 to 1914, which in Russia, bannered the call for “Bread and Peace,” until in 1917, when Russian women demanded respect for their democratic and economic rights, that led to the abdication of Russian czar, and the provisional government was compelled to respect the women’s right to vote.

“Its history is crystal clear, hence, in our country, we join Gabriela and the women’s sector’s struggle for the attainment of fundamental reforms and attainment of their socio-economic and democratic rights,” Casilao said.

Casilao claimed that women workers and peasants are in much vulnerability to exploitation as the present political, economic and social system is conceived for such. He blamed laws, program and policies on labor and land reform programs, which are chief bases of oppression.

“Women workers are usually contractual workers, especially in big malls, and factories, and peasant women and youth are still victims of lower farm wages in the countryside, moreover, they remain targets of sexual offences, and due to poverty, they are also driven into anti-social activities such as prostitution,” Casilao said.

In relation, women workers who usually reside in urban poor communities are also usual victims of violent dispersals and demolitions.

He added that majority share of unpaid labor mostly in the countryside are contributed by women and children who are family members.

“The work done by women and their children at the farms are not valued, as consequence by rampant underpricing of farm produce,” he added.

In the country, women remain targets of abuses, especially by the systematic and comprehensive counter-insurgency programs of past and present administration.

“We always see mother and children at evacuation centers, triggered by massive militarization, and they always fell victims of abuses during agrarian dispute,” he said.

The recent Committee on Human Rights hearing on the House Resolution No. 634 filed by Casilao and other Makabayan lawmakers found out that during the December 31, 2016-eviction, women and children were assaulted and even hogtied by the armed guards of Lapanday Food Corp. The said resolution was about the December 12, 2016 – shooting of members and supporters of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries, Inc. (MARBAI) by Lapanday armed guards in Tagum City.

The latest killing of farmer Leonila Pesadilla and his husband, who donated lands for the Lumad school in Compostela town on March 2, was a clear attack on women who are agents of social change.

Moreover, Casilao said that the on-going all-out war by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the New People’s Army (NPA) affects mostly women and children from displacement of communities to other forms of human rights violation like rape, harassment and worst victims of extra-judicial killings. In this light, he called for the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“While in 1917, in Tsarist Russia, women workers and peasants demanded for peace, bread and land, after a century, we join the call of Filipino women toiling women for land, peace and food,” Casilao ended. ###