New York Filipinas Join Women of the World in Militant Struggle

For Immediate Release
March 8, 2011

Reference: Irma Bajar, Chairperson, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), fire.nyc@gmail.com, (206) 321-2931

New York Filipinas Join Women of the World in Militant Struggle

Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE)-GABRIELA-USA’s Statement Commemorating the Centennial of International Women’s Day

Today, March 8th, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) will join in spirit with women all over the world in celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Working Women’s Day and denouncing the oppressive effects of capitalism on women everywhere. Taking the lead from Gabriela Philippines’ which organized a massive rally that drew thousands of women in the Philippines that called for rights to land, work and basic goods, we understand that Filipinas in the US have particular struggles that we must strategize to organize around.

At a time when women’s rights in the United States are being attacked via massive cuts in federal and state funding, it is especially important to stand with organizations that protect the interests of working women.

Bills such as H.R.1, a bill that will cut all federal funding for family planning programs such as Planned Parenthood, disproportionately affect working women, low-income women, domestic workers, and women of color, who may not have access to insurance or adequate healthcare. Among the many useful and necessary services that would be restricted by such legislation are pregnancy tests, HIV and STI screening, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and contraceptives. The bill will be devastating for women at all stages of their lives, as it also cuts funding for services for child care, Head Start, Pell grants, job training, and Social Security. This proposal will decimate the job market, driving the economy even further down.

These nation-wide budget cuts, which have forced many women’s shelters and domestic violence organizations to close their doors, have lead to an increase in domestic violence. This has had particularly negative effects on the LGBTQI community, a marginalized group that already suffered from lack of DV resources and visibility before the budget cuts. A recent study from the University of Illinois has shown that Lesbian mothers are particularly vulnerable, being the least likely to seek help in the face of intimate partner violence.

The recent Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, passed in New York State and effective as of November 29th, 2010, amended labor laws to guarantee basic work standards and protections for nannies, caregivers, and hosekeepers. Though this is a much-needed step forward toward recognizing domestic work as real work, this bill provides only the bare minimum of protections for domestic workers, who are still not legally entitled to sick days, vacation days, or paid days off. Organizations such as Kabalikat Domestic Workers Support Network- Philippine Forum are wary of the effect that the bill might have on undocumented immigrants or on workers who have traditionally been paid under the table.

The fight for undocumented immigrants, meanwhile, still continues as other states across the U.S. follow in Arizona’s footsteps in passing racist, at best, anti-immigration laws. In Utah, the most recent of these states to attempt to implement such laws, undocumented immigrants would be able to work only after a strict criminal background check, fines of thousands of dollars, and, most controversial of all, learning English. Immigration laws like these dehumanize the vulnerable, forcing citizens and non-citizens alike to provide proof that, in spite of the racial stereotypes being used against them, they belong here.

Filipinas, immigrant and second, third generation, are all vulnerable to these retreats and attacks of the US government therefore it is an opportune time for any Filipino woman, FilAm or immigrant, to join organizations to contribute to fight for change. Similar struggles extend all over the world, where this year we have seen women from Egypt, Libya, and the Philippines, among many other countries, take key roles in the fighting for their rights against corrupt government regimes.

On the centennial of International Working Women’s Day, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) honor and stand in solidarity with these women who continue the militant struggle against oppression, both in the U.S. and abroad. FiRE’s activities in the month of March will celebrate working women’s victories and continuing struggle, please visit http://www.firenyc.org for more information.

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