HomeNewsFilipino women reject ‘undemocratic, misogynistic, militarist governance’

Filipino women reject ‘undemocratic, misogynistic, militarist governance’

“Amid the pandemic, women continue to fight and protect their ancestral lands from land grabbing of corporations backed by agents of the state"

Filipino women activists marched in the streets of Manila on Tuesday, March 8, to mark “International Women’s Day,” protesting what they described as the “undemocratic, misogynistic, militarist governance” of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“In its six years, the Duterte administration has reached record-breaking inflation rates and neck-deep national debt, burying women and the people to deeper poverty and crisis as it desperately clings to power by silencing dissent through grave human rights violations,” said Cham Perez, executive director of the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR).

“Women, who are often household managers, are doubly-burdened by skyrocketing prices of basic commodities amid joblessness and depressed minimum wages, said Perez, adding that in 2020 alone, about 19.54 million women were “economically insecure.”

She noted that the Duterte administration recorded the lowest minimum wage increase rate since 1986, at 9.4 percent or from Php491 in 2016 to Php537 in 2022 in the National Capital Region. In other regions, daily minimum wage is as low as Php280 per month.

In the countryside, rice farmers have also suffered due to the Rice Liberalization Law. The average farmgate price of palay dropped from Php24.47 in 2018 to Php16.40 in 2021.

“Women farmers from Luzon have reported even lower palay prices, as low as Php9 to Php13 per kilogram,” said Perez. “This has kept farmers buried in debt, amid landlessness, lack of agricultural support, and lack of access to services,” she added.

Women protesters march to the presidential palace in Manila to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, 2022. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

Grave misogyny, violence, and rights abuses

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In a statement released on the occasion of International Women’s Day, CWR reported that an estimated 27,000 people were killed, including at least 122 children 0-17 years old, due to what the organization described as the “militarist” attitude of the government with soldiers allegedly violating women’s rights with impunity.

CWR recorded at least 81 police and military personnel who have been involved in at least 55 recorded cases of abuse of women; including at least 33 rape cases from July 2016 to the present.

There were also 62 cases of extra-judicial killings of women leaders and activists from July 2016 to the present, said the report, adding that a total of 134 women are currently in jail.

“In the last six years, women relentlessly fought for their rights. No amount of suppression has dampened their decisiveness to fight back,” said Perez.

She said women have led and participated in various activities, including soup kitchens and community pantries, donation drives, collective gardening to organize in different mass organizations and joining mobilizations and protests amid threats and harassment from state forces.

At present, women have crafted the Women’s Electoral Agenda, which will serve as a challenge to election aspirants to prioritize the rights and welfare of women in their platforms.

“Our political participation does not begin and end on May 9, when we cast our votes,” she said. “Everyday, we must take part in asserting our collective aspirations and clamor for genuine social change,” Perez added.

Police block women protesters as they march to the presidential palace in Manila to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, 2022. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

Indigenous women assert rights

A group of indigenous women from six different communities in Luzon and Mindanao marked the day with indigenous songs, dances, and rituals as they called on voters to choose good leaders in the coming elections.

“Women play a significant role in our society because we bear children and give life to our future generation,” said Marilou Taupan, an Erumanen Menuvu indigenous young woman leader in North Cotabato.

“Our stories and our voices should be listened to because we are directly affected by critical issues and problems in our society,” she said.

Cherry Ann Dulnuan, a Tuwali young indigenous woman, said they are living witnesses on how “destructive mining projects” have adversely affected their communities and how their opposition was met violently by corporations and agents of the state.

In a statement, LILAK Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights highlighted the multiple challenges that indigenous women face.

“Amid the pandemic, women continue to fight and protect their ancestral lands from land grabbing of corporations backed by agents of the state for destructive projects such as mining, plantations, and mega-dams,” said Judy Pasimio, LILAK coordinator.

The group Alyansa Tigil Mina also issued a statement extending its solidarity with all women, recognizing the “crucial role of women environmental human rights defenders in leading the fight against destructive mining.”

“It is undeniable that among women’s critical role in the environment is managing natural resources at the family and community level,” said the group. “Women manage water, maintain farmlands, look after sources of fuel and food, and care for forests and agricultural terrain,” it added.

International Women’s Day is a global holiday celebrated annually on March 8 to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women. It is also a focal point in the women’s rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.

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