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Message to the 10th Women's International Solidarity Affair
in the Philippines

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples' Struggle
July 29, 2007

We, the International League of Peoples' Struggle, wish to convey warmest greetings of solidarity to all the delegations in the 10th Women's International Solidarity Affair in the Philippines (WISAP) and to congratulate the GABRIELA National Alliance of Women for successfully preparing and hosting this weeklong affair.

We salute GABRIELA and all the women's organizations represented in this affair for all their efforts and achievements in the struggle for the liberation of women and the rest of the people. We appreciate your determination to consolidate the struggle and bring it to a new and higher level by holding this affair with the theme, "The Women's Vision: Strategies and Tactics of Women's Resistance". We wish you utmost success in sharing strategic plans of resistance against the exploitation and oppression of women and and against the various forms of violence against them.

We hope that you can learn much from the exposure program preceding the WISAP conference. This program divides you into several teams for visiting different regions. Thus, you can look into the concrete conditions of poverty, women, human rights and violence against women. Thereafter you can share the exposure reports and proceed to the discussion of the international situation, national situation and the situation of women.

We anticipate that you will be contributing to and gaining from the comprehensive and rich program of plenary sessions and workshops in the WISAP conference. We hope that the plenary sessions can serve to harmonize and unify your positions and strengthen your common purpose. We hope that you can use the workshops to clarify the position, role and perspective of women in relation to the worsening social crisis, the policy of "neoliberal" globalization, imperialist war and state terrorism, various forms of violence against women, labor and production, migration, governance, environment and culture.

The policy of "neoliberal" globalization has aggravated and deepened the semicolonial and semifeudal character of Philippine society. It has pushed the de-nationalization of the economy and prevented economic development by impeding national industrialization and land reform. The economy is thrown wide open to foreign monopolies through trade and investment liberalization, privatization of public assets and deregulation against the rights and welfare of labor, women and children and the protection of the environment. The Philippines is dependent on the export of raw materials and the re-export of low-value added semimanufactures.

Under the "free trade" policy, the dumping of foreign goods on the Philippines has ruined local manufacturing and food production. The foreign and local public debt is ever mounting as it is used to cover the chronic trade deficit and budgetary deficits. Debt service is by far the No. 1 expense of the reactionary government. The tax burden is oppressive and yet public spending is characterized by bureaucratic waste, corruption, military overspending and neglect of social services. Due to the prostrate condition of the Philippine economy, the ruling system has become more subservient than ever before to the US and other imperialist powers, which have imposed a wide range of unequal agreements and arrangements on the Philippine reactionary government.

Due to the lack of economic development and the high rate of unemployment, the women find it more and more difficult to get employment and are confronted more and more by traditional and new forms of discrimination against them in the labor market and in society at large. They are being compelled to accept the most cruel terms of the labor flexibilization policy, such as extremely low wages, no job security and no rights whatsoever, in certain sections of the manufacturing and services sector. They are being compelled to accept jobs and situations that make them vulnerable to various forms of violence. Women are subjected to the worst forms of exploitation and oppression, as their labor power is cheapened through the growth of surplus labor in the urban and rural areas. The accumulation of land under corporate ownership is driving off the women from agriculture.

An increasing number of women are being pushed out of the country by the lack of job opportunities. They find themselves without rights and protection in the host countries. They are made to accept jobs and wages that are far below the standards of their skills, previous education and training in the Philippines. The Philippine reactionary government fleece them through various kinds of fees and yet gives them no protection and services whatsoever. Their situation abroad is becoming more difficult as governments pass anti-terror and anti-immigrant laws.

The women must fight for their rights and interests on their own account and in combination with the rest of the people against imperialism, local reaction and patriarchalism. They must always be ready to assert their progressive role and aim for better conditions and permanent advances in the face of persistent and new conditions of exploitation and oppression of women, the working people and humankind.

You must fight to end the plundering, violent and aggressive policies and actions of imperialism and such running dogs as the Arroyo puppet regime. You must assert the national sovereignty and democratic rights of the people, protect the national patrimony and the rights of women and the people against the policy of "neoliberal" globalization, state terrorism and the imperialist wars of aggression. You must stand up for the rights of women in all aspects of social life in their own countries as well as abroad.

You must fight the violence against women that occurs both in the process of socio-economic exploitation as well as in the most conspicuous forms of oppression that involve physical and mental maltreatment and the loss of life, limb or liberty. You must develop a culture of resistance not only against the most obvious forms of violence against women but also against the most subtle forms of psychological abuse, such as the dominant culture of deception that is consumerist, individualist and patriarchal and that leads to the commodification and further degradation of women and children.

It is not enough to resist by merely reacting to the exploitation and oppression of women. You must resist in order to empower women. Through struggle, you take your destiny into your hands, prove that you can hold the ground that you have won, gain recognition for all the social contributions that you have rendered and have a full share of political power according to ability and work record.

Women must have a full say and full share of the action on the issues of governance, on the daily issues of social life and on the issues of tyranny, war and destruction of the environment. They have always shouldered at least half of social responsibilities and burdens and they together with the children have often suffered the most from the worst of social events. They have all the reasons to have a full share of democratic leadership and participation.

We hope that during the WISAP conference you shall take into account what you can do within the ILPS and what the ILPS as a whole can do in order to advance the women's liberation movement. We call on you to take the opportunity to revitalize Study Commission No. 7 of the ILPS and to participate in the preparations for the Third International Assembly of the ILPS. Please consult with the ICC members who are in your midst in this conference. We welcome and appreciate your solidarity, support and assistance for the ILPS.

We are confident that by the end of your conference you shall have clarified the situation and the major issues involving women, further strengthened the international solidarity of women and set forth the tasks for advancing the women's movement. We are certain that you shall be able to present to the press and the public the results that uphold, defend and advance the rights and interests of women.

We look forward to the mass mobilization when you shall be able to celebrate the great success of your conference and begin the further ascent of your organizations to a new and high level of struggle and success by their own efforts and in concert with the rest of the people. ###

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