Women of the world at the forefront of peoples’ struggles

COMMISSION 7: Cause of women’s liberation and rights

Lina Solano of Ecuador is accused of “closing public roads” and “physically assaulting the police” during one of the public demonstrations she participated in against destructive mining. At one time, this woman activist was also charged by the army with attempting to “assault a military post.”

Solano is a founding member of the Women Defenders of the Pachamama, and a member of the Coordinadora Campesina Popular de Morona Santiago, a grassroots organization which strongly opposes the development of mining mega-projects in the Amazonian province. She was so effective she was threatened by no other than the President of Ecuador and slapped with criminal charges for her activism.

In the Philippines, another woman leader, Carmen Deunida, 83, is fighting another war. Although the country is supposedly free, US control of the Philippine economy and politics has shackled the country into poverty.

A leader of the urban poor group Kadamay and Anakpawis partylist, Nanay Mameng, as she is popularly known, started her activism during martial law days. She became popular during the height of the movement to oust then President Joseph Estrada.

Like her, Liza Maza, former representative of Gabriela Women’s Party, and Lana Linaban, secretary general of Gabriela, are leading the fight against oppression and exploitation of women, especially the marginalized.

They are but four of the exemplary women at the forefront of their peoples’ struggles. In the era of globalization, women are most vulnerable. Women workers, especially in the third world countries, suffer from low wages, poor working conditions and repressive policies. With flexible labor, women workers are stripped of their trade union rights.

In Jordan, young Sri Lankan women workers have been sexually abused and repeatedly raped over the course of years. They sew clothes for Wal-Mart, Hanes, Macy’s and other labels for duty-free export to the U.S.. Wal-Mart is the largest producer at Classic.

In the Philippines, before they successfully formed a union, women workers of Bluestar Manufacturing, the maker of Advan shoes and boots, had to fight sexual harassment first.

Women migrant workers are vulnerable from sexual and physical abuse. Due to the worsening economic crisis, women, especially mothers, have been forced to work overseas to support their families. Thousands have fallen victims of sex trafficking.

In many Third World countries, women in rural areas suffer from landlessness and other forms of feudal exploitation. Often, their labor is uncompensated.

Violence against women remains. A World Health Organization (WHO) study in 2005 indicated that up to 71% of women experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. Research also shows that intimate partner and sexual violence lead to a wide range of short- and long-term physical, mental and sexual health problems.

Discrimination continues, too. According to United Nations, across 121 countries with available data, only 15 percent of countries have achieved gender parity.

Education is not accessible to most women in poor countries. Women make up nearly two thirds of the world’s 759 million illiterate adults, according to UNESCO.

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) fights for the rights and interest of women all over the world. The women of ILPS struggle against widespread hunger, poverty, deterioration of social welfare, unemployment, landlessness, human rights abuses on top of discrimination and violence based on gender.

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