‘Gender Gap Index’ Not Reflective of True State of Filipino Women – Gabriela

“A glaring proof that Filipino women are still living in oppressive conditions – even though the country ranks high in gender-based indexes – is the increasing number of victims of violence against women, most notably, gang rape,” said Lana Linaban, secretary general of Gabriela.

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Marian Acosta-Doydoy, 30, married with one child, did various jobs on a contractual basis. She was already working for two years as a sales clerk in a boutique shop and was up for regularization until she got pregnant and was forced to resign.

“They terminated my contract because I’m pregnant. Their policy is that a sales clerk should be single,” Doydoy said.

Acosta-Doydoy worked for various companies. She worked for five months as a cashier at Value Point supermarket, but her contract was not renewed. She worked at an electronics firm for five months and her contract was never renewed. She worked as collator in a health care company. She was removed from work nine days before her contract expired because the company terminated the services of the manpower agency that hired them. In her recent job as a coordinator, her contract was renewed three times. “They renewed my contract every five months because of my performance,” Doydoy told Bulatlat. But the company offered a maximum of three five-month contracts so she was removed again.

Doydoy is only one of the many Filipino women who have no choice but to agree to work as contractual employees. And their dire situation keeps them disempowered.

In the recent Gender Gap Index by the World Economic Forum (WEF), thePhilippines ranked ninth in countries where women are “empowered”. The Philippines is also the only Asian country to make it to the top ten.

The WEF is an independent, non-profit international organization. It is composed of top business leaders, international political leaders, selected intellectuals and journalists. The Global Gender Gap Index was developed in 2006. It uses Gender Gap subindexes such as economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.


Marian & Kalai Doydoy

However, Gabriela said the system of ranking is misleading. The WEF uses quantitative measures without looking into the qualitative aspects. In the category of economic participation and opportunity, for example, it merely computes how many women are in the workforce without considering how they are being treated in the workplace.

Lana Linaban, secretary general of Gabriela said WEF’s figures might be accurate but it does not dig into the real situation of women. “The WEF concluded that the gender gap is getting narrower and that there is equality between men are women but in reality that is not what is happening. Additional burden such as child rearing, doing household chores and abuses are not looked into in the survey.”

Gabriela said in a statement that the high ranking the Philippines received in the Gender Gap Index should not be mistaken to mean that Filipino women have been fully empowered nor have been freed from oppression. The Gender Gap Index simply measures the “gender-based access to resources and opportunities in individual countries” rather than “actual levels of available resources and opportunities”. For example, it could only tell that less women trail behind men in access to rights such as education. But it does not show the fact that the widespread poverty in the country has prevented millions of children, both male and female, from having access to education. It might reveal that more women are in high positions in companies, but it does not show that the eroded domestic economy has rendered millions of Filipinos, especially women, jobless.

Women Still Living in Oppressive Conditions

Linaban pointed out that even though more married women compared to married men have jobs, it does not mean that these married women are free from abuse. “They may have jobs and might even earn more, but they still do the household chores, take care of the children’s needs, and worse, still suffer maltreatment.”

“A glaring proof that Filipino women are still living in oppressive conditions – even though the country ranks high in gender-based indexes – is the increasing number of victims of violence against women, most notably, gang rape,” Linaban added.

According to the 2009 data of the Center for Women’s Resources data, there were 9,797 cases of violence against women. One to two children are also experiencing violence every hour. There are nine children being raped every day, while there are six to seven battered children every day.

“The most recent gang rape of a volunteer nurse in South Upi, Maguindanao is a grim evidence of this reality,” said Linaban. “During the same month the rape in Maguindanao happened, a woman was forcibly taken in a van and raped by three men in Quezon City. Aside from those cases that hit the news, Gabriela also received an increasing number of unpublicized cases of gang rapes. In 2008, there were six cases that we handled; seven cases in 2009; and eight cases from January to September in 2010. “Worse, most of the victims are minors.”

Meanwhile, Doydoy, now unemployed, is again looking for a job. It has become a cycle, she said. She is now preparing her papers for her application for employment in Dubai. (Bulatlat.com)

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GABRIELA USA participates in the Montreal International Women’s Conference and the founding of the International Women’s Alliance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Vice Chair of Mass Campaigns, GABRIELA USA,gabrielawomen@gmail.com

GABRIELA USA participates in the Montreal International Women’s Conference and the founding of the International Women’s Alliance

Montréal, Québec, August 16, 2010 — In Montreal, women of GABRIELA USA joined over 350 participants representing 32 different countries, including Pakistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Mali, the Czech Republic, Germany, Cuba, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Mexicothis past weekend to actively participate in the Montreal International Women’s Conference and the founding of the International Women’s Alliance.

GABRIELA USA was joined by local allies from all across the U.S. including members of VietUnity, Tadaima, Women’s Fightback Network in Boston and New York City, Million Workers March, Picture the Homeless, the International Action Center , Latin American Workers’ Project (NYC), Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST), Transit Workers’ Union, Cihuatl Tlatocan- Maiz, and the May 1st Coalition.

From August 13 to 15, delegates participated in plenaries, workshops, and discussions surrounding a wide variety of themes, including women workers, peasant women, indigenous struggles, developmental aggression, violence against women, racism, discrimination and genocide, as well as resistance to wars and imperialist aggression. From these workshops and plenaries, drafts of resolutions have been created to tackle these struggles on local and international levels.

During a plenary session, delegates unanimously endorsed a declaration in support of the 490 Tamils from Sri Lanka who arrived aboard the MV Sun Sea in Vancouver, Canada, decrying their ongoing detention while calling upon the Canadian government to accept them as refugees. In addition, participants also affirmed their solidarity and demanded the release of the 43 health workers who were illegally detained in the Philippines in February this past year.

On August 16, delegates of the conference formalized the assembly by creating the International Women’s Alliance which will build coordination of local, regional and international campaigns, to promote mutual support and the sharing of resistance strategies, and to mobilize women around the world in the struggle against imperialism, violence and capitalist globalization. The first assembly of the International Women’s Assembly will take place in July 2011 in the Philippines.

“As Filipina women, it is our duty as mothers, daughters, and sisters to come together and strengthen the movement against the exploitation and oppression of women rooted in the global imperialist system. We can no longer take the brunt of the economic crisis brought about by this system which causes so much hunger, unemployment, forced migration, and militarization all over the world. The time is now to bridge our struggles and strengthen the solidarity of women’s organizations worldwide. The formation of the International Women’s Alliance will help fortify the growing people’s movement against imperialism,” stated Raquel Redondiez, chairperson of GABRIELA USA.

GABRIELA USA is a national alliance of progressive Filipina women’s organizations including Samahan ng Kababaihan (San Francisco), babae (San Francisco), Pinay sa Seattle (Seattle), Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (New York City), and Sisters of Gabriela Awaken (Los Angeles).

The initiative for the MIWC and IWA came out of a resolution of the women’s commission of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) which met during the 3rd International Assembly of the ILPS in Hong Kong in 2008.

For more information about the conference and alliance, please visit http://miwc2010.wordpress.com/.

Fil-Ams in New York ‘Sings for Change’ with Gabriela Womens Party

GWP in NYCFor Immediate Release
April 28, 2010

References: Valerie Francisco, GABRIELA-USA Vice-Chair,valeriefrancisco@gmail.com;

Fil-Ams in New York ‘Sings for Change’ with Gabriela Womens Party

NEW YORK– With over fifty people in attendance to support Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) 2010 congressional Candidate, Emmi de Jesus, GABRIELA-USA, BAYAN USA, Kabalikat Domestic Support Network and other allied organizations hosted a karaoke benefit as Krystal‘s Café 81 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, raising funds to support the party list’s campaign heating up in the Philippines’ election season.

The GWP, created in 2003, won a seat in the Philippine House of Representatives in 2004 and two seats in 2007 for Rep. Liza Maza and Rep. Luz Ilagan. The party is known for being critical of the Arroyo government’s foreign and domestic policies, including the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement, and the national counter-insurgency program known as Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL). GWP’s slogan, “Babae, Bata, OFW at Bayan,” (“Women, Children, Overseas Foreign Workers and Nation” in English) also shows their allegiance to advocate for migrants, a majority of which are women. GWP is perhaps the only all-women’s political party in the world, creating innovative legislation prioritizing the rights of Filipina women and children. Many of their platforms include positions on human trafficking, prostitution, rape, discrimination, sexual harassment and domestic violence. GWP has also been at the forefront of legislation that could finally legalize divorce in the Philippines.

“GWP is a significant force in changing the landscape of Philippine politics as the party list emerges from women’s grassroots movement and organizing,” stated Valerie Francisco, GABRIELA USA
s vice-chair of mass campaigns, “For FilAms in NYC, although we might be far away, GWP’s democratic engagement signals a genuine reflection of the people’s needs and desires.”

Filipinos in the US have an inextricable link to political governance in the Philippines as billions of US tax dollars are budgeted annually towards aid to the Philippines. Historically, the US government has played a key role in determining who will be the next president of the Philippines. This is because almost all Philippine presidents in recent history, with the exception of Joseph Estrada, were educated and groomed in the United States. Key financial backing from the US government, in various forms, to whoever is the Philippine president, ensures that the US government’s neoliberal agenda in the Asia-Pacific region is enforced, with the Philippines as a strategic point.

Given that, under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, members of GWP have also been fallen victim to human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, abductions, and harassment from state security forces, FilAms are keeping a vigilant watch over the election season. With the upcoming national elections in May 2010, GWP expects an increase in human rights violations, the reality of electoral fraud, and the possibility for Arroyo to determine a failure of elections.

Francisco said, “Because there is no telling what the election season may bring, we as FilAm women will be keeping a vigilant watch over the happenings in the Philippines and supporting and celebrating partylists like GWP and senatorial candidate Liza Maza because of their dedication to the Filipino people, women and migrants!”

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