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Hundreds of women march to decry VAW, poverty, contractualization, federalism

Press Release
March 8, 2018

MANILA – Hundreds of women marched to Mendiola on International Women’s Day to decry the present administration’s inaction and contribution to the inequality that continues to be experienced by Filipino women today.

Members of women’s movement Oriang denounced President Duterte’s frequent anti-women statements and failed policy promises as major threats to the state of Filipino women’s rights, particularly to their rights to work, livelihood, health, and security.

“Duterte stepped into the presidency bearing the promise of real change, but he has delivered nothing but the same dismal conditions to Filipinos – if not worse,” said Flora Asiddao Santos, National President of Oriang.

“His failure to end labor contractualization along with his betrayal of the poor through the deadly War on Drugs and the burdensome TRAIN Law have exacerbated the marginalization of the most vulnerable groups in society – primarily, women,” said Santos.

“On this International Day of Women, it is important that we surface the very distinct and dire manner by which women experience social inequalities,” said Oriang Secretary General Oyette Zacate.

According to Oyette Zacate, apart from the usual impacts of issues like labor contractualization, unemployment, violence, and environmental degradation, women experience additional pressures and burdens due alone to their position as women.

“Women are hit harder by this administration’s unequal policies. We see this in the discriminatory retrenching of pregnant women in labor contracting firms, in the greater rate of violence against female OFWs, in greater rates of land grabbing and unpaid agricultural work committed against rural and indigenous women, in the harsher impacts of TRAIN-caused high prices on poor women and women vendors, and in many other issues of social inequality,” said Zacate.

Kimberly Arriola, Oriang Vice Chairperson, then condemned Duterte’s proposed federalism as another so-called ‘change’ by the administration that threatens to breed a host of inequality impacts for women.

“As long as patriarchal and elite governance is the norm in the country, federalism will only serve to bolster the marginalization of vulnerable groups like women – especially poor women – while fattening the pockets of existing political dynasties and corporations,” said Arriola.

Arriola also condemned the Duterte administration’s unapologetic misogyny, as manifested in lascivious and violent remarks thrown frequently by various officials, led by the President himself.

“The Philippine society’s perception of the rights and dignity of women as human beings is at a danger of being in decline due to a trend of misogyny within our government,” added Arriola.

“Although done under the guise of humor, this behavior of our leaders is no laughing matter for women at actual risk of greater discrimination and harassment,” she said.

According to Flora Santos, the administration’s gross neglect and trampling of women’s rights and women’s issues serve as a wake-up call for women all over the country to collectively push back.

“Duterte and the rest of his administration have revealed themselves as false agents of change in this country, especially in the lives of women who have had to suffer through age-old sexism through countless administrations,” said Santos.

“We thus call on Filipinas to rise up and actively resist an administration that has unapologetically shown contempt for women and other vulnerable sectors,” she said.

“The International Day of Women has taught us that it is not through select leaders, but through the organization and collective action that true equality is achieved and preserved,” she concluded.

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