Bread and Roses. We fight for our rights; we fight for our dignity.
Today, International Women’s Day, we continue to demand end to poverty and landlessness. We demand the realization of our reproductive rights and end to violence against women. We mark again another year to celebrate the joys and triumphs of women all over the world advancing all these struggles for land, food, water, reproductive rights, and for a life free from violence, marginalization, and discrimination. But while we rejoice these gains, now more than ever is also the time to be more vigilant and courageous, for we face more forms of dispossession and oppression of our rights: urban poor communities are demolished with no regard for the dignity of women and children; as government pursues relentlessly corporate-led privatization, public hospitals are privatized, public lands (such as in Quezon City where the seedlings bank, Philippine Science High School, and Philippine Children’s Medical Center) are now to be developed by Ayala Land instead of for public benefit; farmers and indigenous peoples defending their lands are harassed, even killed; and now there is the threat of land-grabbing in Haiyan affected areas. These dispossessed urban poor, many of whom are part of our worker; these farmers, fishers, and indigenous peoples are women too.
And lest we forget, to this day the Reproductive Health Law that was passed after fourteen years of struggle continues to face fierce opposition by the Catholic hierarchy and their fundamentalist allies who have filed a case before the Supreme Court.
If indeed this government is not blind to the violation of the rights to dwelling even of the urban masses; if it were not deaf to the cries for justice of farmers, fishers, and indigenous peoples whose rights to have access to land and water resources are blatantly disregarded, then we urge it, as well as our politicians, to stop corporate-led privatization of the commons, which has aggravated women’s oppression. Underneath all these atrocities is the truth that women suffer far worse than their male counterparts. Women are easy targets of violence and harassments by government and private security personnel involved in land acquisitions because of the perception that they are weak. Even in the “consultation process” of public land acquisitions, women’s opinions are neglected if not outrightly disregarded. When public lands are turned over to corporations, women and their families are displaced and become deprived of food sources and livelihood. Mothers are left with very limited income opportunities to support their family needs, and young women and girls are rendered vulnerable to prostitution and sexual violence.
And now in areas devastated by Haiyan/Yolanda, 3.5 million women and girls of child-bearing age are exposed to threats of prostitution, domestic violence, discrimination, and other risks and vulnerabilities caused by the disaster. But once again, the government betrays us to the business sector. The government, at this very moment, is facilitating ”disaster capitalism” in the rehabilitation and recovery of Yolanda-stricken areas.
Filipino women are calling on the Aquino government not to surrender state responsibility to care and provide for the marginalized and to fulfill its obligation to its women; to its citizens. Give us peace, equity, equality, and opportunities! Give us bread. Give us roses!
SENTRO • Bagong Kamalayan • Batis-AWARE • Buklod • CATW-AP • Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) • Development Action for Women Network • Filipino Deaf Women Health and Crisis Center (FDWHCC) • Focus on the Global South • Free Burma Coalition • Freedom from Debt Coalition • Initiatives for International Dialogue • Kababaihan-Pilipinas • KAISA-KA • KAMP • Kasibulan • Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KsK/Friends of the Earth-Phils) • LILAK (Purple Action for Women’s Rights) • Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) • Partido ng Manggagawa • PAHRA • Piglas Kababaihan • Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) • PC-ICC • SARILAYA • Transform Asia • WomanHealth Phils. • Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau • Welga ng Kababaihan • Women’s Crisis Center • Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE) • World March of Women – Pilipinas • numerous courageous individuals