Today, we, the marginalized and grassroots women will march to the streets for reproductive, economic and climate justice. Today, on the occasion of celebrating International Women’s Day, we put forward our demands to the PNoy government as mothers, sisters, daughters, as citizens and as a sector, even as a people.

We raise our voices and question now, as we unload our multiple burdens passing it back from our backs to the government, “Why until now, we do not have essential services and benefits? Why until now we have remained sacrifices and continue to be further marginalized?” 

Mr. President, why do we continue to live under the conditions of severe poverty, existing socio-cultural-ecological and economic inequality, with continued multiple violations of our rights? 

We march to the streets to make known, despite a hundred and three years of observing Women’s Day, we continue to face terrible labor conditions, deprived of basic freedoms, to enjoy a better quality of life, free from violence and discrimination, free from multiple burdens from lack of social services, deprived of our rights to decent work, reproductive health, education and training, affordable and adequate housing, access to water and electricity or energy needs.

We, marginalized grassroots women will continue to march to be recognized as equal members of society with equal rights to essential services and benefits. We refuse to remain in the margins, to be sacrificed first in the midst of disasters, to benefit last as our government continue to neglect us and multiply our burdens with high prices of essential commodities, privatization of essential services, questioned reproductive health law and multiple injustices.

Despite our government’s avowed commitment to implement international human rights treaties and despite the passage of the Magna Carta of Women as well as the Reproductive Health Law, we continue to suffer as enforcement and implementation remains nil to be enjoyed, especially by grassroots working women.  

Why do this government continue to narrowly define and measure poverty impacts only as a matter of income? In consequence, we are further entrenched in poverty, as it continues to exploit our women’s work, education, unpaid ‘care’ work, denying our access to resources, and political decision-making.

We demand better treatment as women, claiming our rights that we fought for, struggled for by our mothers, our grandmothers and our foremothers.

We demand the government to combat the flexibility and informality of labor markets that deny decent working conditions and incomes to women workers, and expand public expenditure for social protection systems that includes ‘care’ services and social infrastructure. 

We demand the guarantee of inheritance rights, access to credit and land ownership, recognition of intellectual, cultural and social rights, and property rights is essential in making strides for development that aspires to be inclusive.  

We demand to put a stop to unpaid ‘care’ work of women, unpaid contributions to development made by women at all levels while it continues to be subtracted, and becomes detrimental as it represent the fundamental pillar of rural livelihoods and community well-being.

We refuse to continue bearing the biggest brunt in the midst of natural and national disasters as public services and social protection remain lacking. We, as food producers refuse to be hungry without food to eat most of the time, but continue to hunger for justice and decry this irony of increasing poverty while the national coffers are siphoned off through the pork barrel of politicians. 

We are reviled by the systemic wastage of public money. We decry the backlogs in bridging the gaps in education, health and housing, with dismal government allocation year after year. Public expenditure in education is only 2.2% of GNP in 2012, a far cry from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) 6% of GNP benchmark for developing countries. That amounts to P3.763 trillion education spending backlog since 1996, when UNESCO adopted the standard.

We continue to raise the question on government’s public spending. Consider the math on health with only 0.35% of GDP, shameful compared to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 5% of GDP benchmark. This is why until now only 60 percent of the Filipino population finished secondary education. Moreover, the National Housing Authority’s (NHA) estimates the country’s housing backlogs accumulated to 3,756,072 units from 2001-2010, costing roughly P1.126T (P300,000/unit). 

Emancipate us from debt. From 2001-2012, debt service (interest payments and principal amortization) in the National Budget constitute an average 37.74% of national budget/total government expenditures. More importantly, debt service payments constitute an average of 63.55 % of the annual government revenues during the same period.

We demand access to health services and social protection, with public health services immediately available when the needs arise. Not health services dependent on the benevolence of government officials, with women lining up in public hospitals and health centers waiting for their turn bearing the referral letters of their local officials to be serviced. in having healthy children going to school without worries of tuition and miscellaneous fees and other education needs. Around 60% of our household’s income goes to food, effectively reducing household budget for housing and children’s education needs.  

We demand secure affordable housing and stop the carnage from demolitions that give way to corporate capture of development with greed and aggression in our communities. 

We demand the government to effectively address gender discrimination in the labor market with effective measures to eliminate the gender pay gap as well as ensure universal and affordable access to social protection and public services to all, recognizing the informal and precarious nature of most labor markets as well as the unpaid work that sustains women’s everyday lives.

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FDC Women Committee on International Women’s Day March 8, 2014

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