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International Working Women’s Day

International Working Women’s Day
Photo: IWWD Rally in Toronto on March 4

Statement of Migrante Canada

March 8, 2023

International Working Women’s Day (IWWD) reminds us of the great achievements of women in the world and throughout history. It also reminds us that we stand on the shoulders of these women as we organize, educate, and mobilize as overseas Filipino women under the banner of Migrante Canada.

As overseas Filipino women, we mark this year’s IWWD in very terrible times in crisis-riddled Philippines and also across the world. 

The families and communities that we have left behind in the Philippines continue to suffer from low wages, lack of decent jobs and livelihood, lack of basic services, worsening poverty, and constant attacks from the government, now the Marcos-Duterte administration for speaking out and organizing for their rights. These very same problems that still plague the country pushed women like us to leave by the hundreds of thousands every year to work abroad. It was the Labour Export Program, created by the dictator Marcos, Sr. in 1974, that systematised and institutionalised the outflow of Filipino workers. The 49-year-old LEP was created to prevent discontent from the masses with jobs overseas while reaping the economic benefits from the dollar remittances of migrant workers. 

Our migration wears a woman’s face. More than 2.2 million Filipinos worked overseas in 2019, the majority of them were women.  In the past 30 years, the number of Filipino women who leave their families to work abroad continues to go up; often they are employed in domestic work or the service sector and are vulnerable to gender-based violence, low wages, lack of worker protection, and racism.

The feminization of Filipino migration benefits the Philippine government  as shown in studies and global trends that women migrant workers send higher remittances than men. This is because women tend to sacrifice more for their family back home, so they work longer hours or double jobs, thus “adding to the reliability of their remittances.” The government of Marcos Sr. and all governments that followed, including the current Marcos,Jr and Duterte regime have cashed in on the collective sorrow, pain,  and heartbreak of migrant mothers and women separated from their loved ones. As the crisis in the Philippines worsens, overseas migrant workers as expected send more remittances home.

As Filipino migrant women, we do not forget the sacrifices and struggles of migrant women, including Flor Contemplacion, Juana Tejada, Leticia Sarmiento, and Jullebee Ranara. We remember the courage of Evangeline Cayanan to fight for her right to stay in Canada with her young daughter McKenna Rose. We continue to campaign for amnesty for Mary Jane Veloso who is detained in death row in Indonesia. There are more migrant women and men who are held in prisons abroad who need support, legal help,and consular services so that justice is done.

We continue to fight for migrants’ rights and welfare in our host country, including the stopping of deportations and pushing for an inclusive and just regularization program and the overarching demand of status for all. 

As Filipino overseas workers and as members of Migrante Canada, we hold the Philippine government and its embassies, consulates, Migrant Worker offices, and OWWA accountable for their neglect to protect the rights and welfare of migrant workers. We continue to protest the Philippine government’s state exactions for the OEC, PhilHealth premium, Pag-Ibig, SSS, and others. We demand that the embassies and the consulates provide assistance and support to all distressed migrant workers and their families. On a comprehensive scale, we call for decent jobs at home, not overseas! Genuine Land Reform and National Industrialization!

We carry the spirit of this International Working Women’s Day in the political work that we do every day as Filipino women overseas – that our place is right in the struggle and movement for national and democratic change. We raise our fist to salute all working women, all migrant women on this special day, and with the other hand, we hold up half of the sky.

Solidarity to All Working Women Around the World!

Trabaho sa Pinas, Hindi sa Labas! Jobs at Home, Not Overseas!

End the Labour Export Program (LEP)!

Justice, Livelihood, Freedom and Democracy in the Philippines!