Women march against poverty is a march for human dignity

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Women group march in Mendiola, Manila / Photo by Borgie Ceniza Balinton

Fourth International Action
STATEMENT INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ERADICATION OF POVERTY
World March of Women-Pilipinas

Our march against poverty is a march for human dignity. It is our right to live a life where choices are not clipped by the meagreness of resources available for us, our future not chained to injustices that deprive us the means to live, our roles not imposed by an economic system that value profit over rights.

Poverty is the outcome of systemic abuse brought upon us by greed – corporations excavating mountains, exploiting the lands, uprooting trees, cementing coasts, keeping wages at their lowest, profiting from social services, and at the cost of poisoned communities, displaced farmers and fishers, enslaved workers, prostituted women and children. Greed finds good company in guns and the militarization it represents to ensure that the corporations and elites are protected. Guns come with goons and the patriarchal set-up it represents to keep women silent and subservient to this system.

But we, women, can never be silenced. The World March of Women-Pilipinas refuses to be clipped, chained, and devalued by this system of greed, guns, and goons. Women know the enemies and we shall hold them accountable for bringing more than half of our country into poverty. We seek justice for the poorest families earning barely a tenth of what the richest families earned. We demand response to the declining employment of women, with one-third of employed women working as unskilled workers, mostly in wholesale and retail trade, agriculture and manufacturing, or forced to leave their homeland. Women work in conditions that are highly informal and vulnerable, with tenuous contracts, low pay or earnings, and little social protection.

Landless peasant families earn 148 pesos on the average in foreign-owned agricultural plantations, with women farmworkers earning 15 peso less. All these unjust conditions push women to work as migrants, where often we are treated just the same, with little protection and dignity.

Women know the enemies intend to blind us, passing as laws like the Mining Act but operating like thieves in broad daylight. No gold can blind us to see that mining does not give jobs, does not contribute to the economy, and can never be responsible enough to safeguard the environment and the community. For the past years, mining contributed to less than 2% to the GDP, employing less than 0.4% of labor force.

Mining violates half of our protected areas and two-thirds of the ancestral domains of our indigenous communities across the country. Poverty rates are evidently high in host-communities of mining, with their leaders and rights defenders being terrorized and killed by hired militias. These private armed groups often have the blessing of the state and political clans, in the name of protecting investments. The state should be held responsible for the human rights violations committed by the militias in the mining communities. The political clans and their dynasties should be dumped this coming elections, along with the weight of the rocks and soil that can never be made fertile again due to mining.

Women shall claim back the lands and waters grabbed by these corporations and we shall cultivate and nurture them to address food security instead of profit. Mining and other forms of resource extraction is just one category in land grabs, there are countless others disguising as development interventions. National and local elites have capitalized on programs like ecotourism, industrial agriculture and biofuels, residential and commercial use, to pass off land grabs as legitimate act. Even disaster-affected areas are not spared. Fishing communities were forced to leave coastal areas declared as no build zones due to anticipated effects of disaster, only to find out later that these were being sold to corporations for resorts and commercial use. Meantime, the farmers, fishers and indigenous peoples who dare fight for their lands and territories are treated as law offenders. Their acts criminalized, their rights taken for granted.

On this International Day of Eradication of Poverty, the World March of Women-Pilipinas calls on the eradication of corporate mining, land grabbing, the prostitution of women and children, labor rights violations, and state terrorism as drivers of poverty.

The women’s march against poverty is a march for human dignity. Our dignity lies in securing the rights of peoples to land, water, and territories as sources of their subsistence for the present and future generations. Our dignity lies in equal opportunities for men and women to participate in and benefit from development that does not exploit the environment nor oppress communities. It is with dignity that we shall overcome poverty on our own terms.

October 17, 2015

World March of Women-Pilipinas • Alyansa Tigil Mina • Bagong Kamalayan Collective, Inc. •
Buklod ng Kababaihan sa Olongapo • Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) •
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) • Focus on the Global South •
Freedom from Debt Coalition • KAISA KA • Katutubong Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) • WomanHealth Philippines • Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB) • Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan • PhilWomen on the ASEAN • Sarilaya • Sentro ng mga Nakakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) • SENTRO Youth • Transform Asia • True Colors Coalition • Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE)

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