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IWD in the Philippines: `For a government of the women masses and a socialist feminist society'

Renewing Socialist Feminism Today
A Socialist Dialogue forum was held in the Philippines on March 6, 2010, entitled "Women and revolution: Renewing socialist feminism today". See the slides for the presentation above. The notes can be found HERE.

Statement by Partido Lakas ng Masa

March 8, 2010 -- In the Philippines poor children die at three times the rate of the children of the rich, according to latest UN data. Under-five mortality rates are 66 child deaths to every 1000 live births among the poor, compared to 21 child deaths to every 1000 births among the rich. The largest wealth disparity for under-five mortality rates is in the Philippines, compared to any other country in the Asia-Pacific region.

Child mortality is linked to the health and welfare of mothers. Maternal mortality rates in the Philippines show little or no improvement and are unlikely to meet even the "less than minimum" Millennium Development Goals.

If there is one single reason that we need a comprehensive, modern reproductive health bill and reproductive health program meeting international best standards and practice, this is it. A reproductive health program, which is free and accessible to poor women, which gives mothers a range of choices and educates them about these choices, saves poor children’s lives.

Every issue today, big and small, is a women’s issue. Poverty and the economic crisis, job losses and contractualisation, health care and reproductive health, education, oil prices, corruption, governance, the illegitimate debt, war, militarism, violence, climate change and the environmental crisis – these are all women’s issues. After all, women are the ones who tend to be the hardest hit by these issues – from the economic crisis, during which a majority of workers laid off in industries such as electronics are women, to climate-change induced disasters such as flooding, where the casualty rates tend to be higher for women and children.

So how society is organised and in whose interests? Who controls the political system? Who runs the economy? These are all issues that are extremely important to women. These are, in fact, life and death issues for women.

In the Philippines, we have supposedly progressed on gender and governance issues: we elect women presidents and have one of the highest proportions of women in [parliament], compared to other countries in the region. And yet this has not translated into concrete gains for a majority of working and poor women.

The system of elite rule that exploits and oppresses working and poor women is still in place. Women have entered the "master's house" – Congress and government – but instead of throwing out the master, bringing down his house and building a new home for all, these women represent the master’s interests, i.e. the patriarchal system of elite rule. So the issue is not merely one of women’s participation, but one of genuine representation – in whose political, social and economic interests, do these women govern?

And in the coming May 10 national elections there is no indication that any of these women’s issues will be seriously addressed. None of the major presidential aspirants represent women’s interests. And this is not because there are no women candidates running for higher office on these tickets. In fact there are several women candidates running for higher office, but a majority of them do not represent the interests of women in this country, i.e. the interests of the women workers, of urban and rural poor women, of the masses of labouring women. A majority of these women candidates represent trapo [traditional capitalist] politics and the system of elite rule that governs the political and economic system in this country.

We think that only a government of the masang kababaihan (women masses) can genuinely advance the interests of a majority of women. Such a government can only come about through the active mobilisation of hundreds and thousands of women, uncompromisingly demanding their rights and being prepared to go all the way to win these rights, up against and beyond the system of trapo politics and elite rule.

Therefore, on this International Women’s Day, the Partido Lakas ng Masa puts out the call for Gobyerno ng Masang Kababaihan para sa Sosyalista-Feministang Lipunan! (A government of the women masses and for a socialist feminist society).

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