(Militarism, Sexism, WTO, Arroyo, RETREAT)

Today, March 8, the International Day of Women, we march, together with our sisters across the globe, to celebrate the lessons, the triumphs as well as the challenges of our many-faceted struggles.

We are workers marching for full employment with dignity and equal opportunity, amidst a backdrop of a hollowed-out domestic economy, of unwieldy migrationand contractualization, precarious and informal work, and chronic unemployment.

We are rural women, marching for food sovereignty, sustainable livelihoods and meaningful asset reform, in a country characterized by increasing hunger, where profit continues to define the production and distribution of food; and wealth, inputs and productive assets remain concentrated in the hands of a few families and corporations.

We are survivors of gender -based violence, marching to end violence withinour own homes and society at large, as we confront domestic struggles, as well as more intense militarization, and displacement due to conflict and war.

We are daughters, sisters, mothers, marching to assert our rights over our bodies and claim our entitlement to public and reproductive services, in the face of greater impositions from the church, religious fundamentalisms and even the state, which choose to decide for us, and even worse, decide to deny us the right to choose.

And at this juncture, foremost, we are citizens, marching to create meaningful spaces for public intervention, marching to shape our institutions and political system, during this period of elections and beyond 2010.

We recognize that many of the issues we carry require decisive, strategic, gender-responsive governance. We recall how many of these concerns have been pushed to the sidelines, as vested family interests, transactional politics, corruption and greed took center stage under the Arroyo administration.

Where political survival and personal gain serve as the main driving force of supposedly public decision-making and action, we are bombarded with scandals rather than solutions.

As we remember Hello Garci, the Fertilizer Fund Scam, and the PhilHealth Cards fiasco, we observe how many of the key actors in these abominations have turned themselves into key players in this year’s elections. As we recall Mrs. Arroyo’s disregard for the Anti-Prostitution and Reproductive Health bills, we also note how many of our candidates would readily place political points, over women and the people’s welfare, as the defining guideline of their policy pronouncements. As we reel from the economic crisis and development aggression, we remember how the current administration championed the neoliberal framework, with nothing to show for but increased precarity and poverty, and nothing more to offer other than overseas work, outsourcing jobs and pantawid gutom programs. As we recall howthe Arroyos coddled political warlords such as the Ampatuans, we also remember how she spoiled convicts like Daniel Smith and consistently upheld US interests, even over our own sovereignty. As we reject the Visiting Forces Agreement, we also denounce extra-judicial killings and other forms of torture that have escalated under the Arroyo government.

As we contend with lack of information, abuse of power and impunity, which became the norm in this regime, we note the glaring lack of meaningful discussion within the current electoral discourse. As we recount these multiple assaults and forms of violence that comprise the ‘GMA legacy’, we find very little indication that this will be significantly resolved and reversed.

We are disappointed that much of the discussion remains centered on personalities rather than issues, hinged on the search for a single messiah, who will redeem us from a dysfunctional political system and a warped democracy. We are displeased with electoral contests that remain largely confined to a few political clans, where even some main contenders for top national positions and key local posts, come from the same family. We are dismayed that none of the presidentiables explicitly talked about a concrete women’s agenda. There is no agenda for women workers, for rural women, for women survivors of violence or for any other woman who says no to militarism, to the exploitation of women in armed conflict, to globalization and unfair trade. We therefore challenge them to come out with a concrete, convincing and long-term women’s agenda. Filipinas deserve political leaders that uphold their rights and lives, rather than sell their bodies and dignity, silence their voices or neglect their needs.

Rather than be disheartened, these only prompt us to amplify our collective action and intervention. We recognize the need to infuse our voices into the current debates. But we refuse to resign ourselves to the idea that there is no point in struggling for thoroughgoing change or confine ourselves solely with in these limited arenas of engagement.

We shall reclaim power, revitalize our movements and strengthen our resolve.

We will keep on marching until spaces for peoples intervention are created, until transformative institutions and a more people-centered political system are in place. We will keep on marching until patriarchy and militarism are dismantled. We will march until states have put in place full employment that allow for mothers, sisters and daughters to have real economic choices. We will march until rural women have truly claimed land and support services. We will march until WTO shrinks and eventually sinks. We will march until equitable, sustainable living and production patterns are established in accordance with the principles of climate justice.

We will march until we have built a society based on peace, justice, equality, freedom and solidarity.

08 March 2010

Amnesty International • APL-Women • Bagong Kamalayan • Batis-AWARE • Buklod – Olongapo • Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino – Kababaihan • CATW-AP • Center for Overseas Workers • Focus on the Global South • FORGE • Free Burma Coalition • Hilom-Kabataan • Kanlungan • KAISA-KA • LRC-KSK/FOE-Phils. • MAKALAYA • Partido Lakas ng Masa • Partido ng Manggagawa • PKKK • Piglas Kababaihan • SARILAYA • Transform Asia • TWMAE • UP Sigma Alpha Nu – Manila & Diliman • WomanHealth • Women’s Legal Bureau • Women in Development Foundation • Welga ng Kababaihan • Women’s Crisis Center • Youth and Students for the Advancement of Gender Equality (YSAGE) • World March of Women – Pilipinas