KAISA KA’s Message to the Japanese People
Our hearts bleed for your suffering brought about by the triple whammy: the earthquake, the Tsunami and the nuclear catastrophe. It was really shocking and painful to see (even on tv and internet only) how such a natural calamity (tsunami) swallowed people, cars, buildings and even airplanes. It was very heartrending to see mothers grieving for their lost sons and daughters or family members saying goodbyes to spare some of them from the harm of nuclear radiation.
We wish for the fast recovery of the people from the tragedy. We wish that no serious calamity would happen to the Japanese people again.
We have strong confidence, though in the great capacity of the Japanese people to rise from the ashes and to rebuild.
We hope the whole world learns from your experience and put primacy on disaster prevention, preparedness and protection of the people. People should keep in mind the strong message conveyed by the nuclear disaster and demand from capitalists and governments:
Abandon all nuclear energy programs!
Safety and not profits!
Focus energy development on safe and renewable alternative sources!
(Relayed to the People of Japan through the Japanese Embassy in Manila March 24, 2011.)
March 8, 2011
Fight for Rights and Emancipation!
Today is International Women’s Day. As we celebrate this day, we remember and honor women who fought for equal opportunities and gainful employment, better work conditions, political rights and equal treatment.
Today, members of KAISA KA and the rest of the women give recognition to the sacrifices of the women in their struggle: the steadfastness of the shirtwaist factories in Manhattan who went on strike for four difficult cold months in 1909 for higher wages and better work conditions; the arduous and sometimes bloody actions in different countries to win women’s right to vote; the bold coming out on the streets of Petrograd in 1917, shouting “we want bread for our children” that ignited the flames that brought the end of tsarist rule, and the various kinds and of women’s participation in effecting change and advancing their societies.
It is now 101 years since the decision of the socialist women’s conference in Copenhagen to set aside one day each year for women. Why are women still on the streets, struggling and not having festivities? Didn’t the past struggles result in positive changes? Or are women’s demands for benefits and rights are simply insatiable?
Indeed, women’s struggles have brought many positive results even in the Philippines. From the day the public school system was opened to women in 1898, after the putting up of the first Filipino feminist organization in 1905, and most especially, after winning women’s right of suffrage in 1937, women’s participation in the different spheres of social life greatly broadened.
The old shackles of slavery of women, however, still remain. Some economic structures, laws and beliefs perpetuate discrimination and women’s appalling situation.
Women continue to bear extremely difficult working conditions. A large part of women’s work, especially in rural areas is unpaid labor. And most of those that get paid are usually contractual and paying low. Unable to find gainful employment inside the country resulting from the adoption of neo-liberal economic policies, and with the labor export policy in place the number of Filipinas who go abroad for jobs is still increasing and most of them get into domestic work that pay little and make them more vulnerable to abuse. Reports from the media and the growing number of clients of NGOs attending to migrants’ welfare are a testament to the burgeoning problem of trafficking into which many Filipinas have fallen.
Even with the enactment of such laws as the RA 9262 (Anti-VAWC), the number of victims of violence against women is still high (especially considering that many cases are not reported to the police. The law against VAWC remains but its concern is limited to domestic violence. Likewise, the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act has limited scope. The bill on trafficking, which is being pushed by feminists remains on hold.
But worse than these problems is the fact that a significant number of those involved in violence against women are supposed to be implementers of the law like the policemen who raped or molested vendors and other women they caught sight of in the process of their so-called operations. Also, the fact that government statistics showed that ARMM has the lowest number of cases on violence against women when more than 40 cases of rape in Sulu in 2008 and 2009 and some others in other parts of ARMM show a serious cover-up.
Women activists, even supporters of rape victims, continue to experience harassment. Meanwhile, the VFA that ushered in US troops that have reinvigorated sex trafficking in areas they frequent and figured several times in cases of violence against women still remain.
Prominent pillars of patriarchy are up against the passage of the law on reproductive health. Meanwhile, the number of maternal deaths has risen to 14 daily in a situation wherein poor women have almost no access to medical attention and supplies.
Getting rid of discrimination and oppression of women will still take a long way.
For as long as the Philippine system allows the poverty and slave-like situation of women; for as long as the government remains beholden to militaristic foreign powers and women are still victims of violence and have no control even over their own bodies, International Women’s Day will not be a day for giving roses. March 8 will remain a day for struggle and women will still shout: Unite for rights and emancipation!