By Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle
Imperialism is destroying the lives of women. It is aggravating the exploitation of women and intensifying attacks on women’s rights. Through the quintuple neoliberal policies of pressing down wages, liberalization, privatization, deregulation, and denationalization, imperialism has reversed whatever gains the working women’s movement has gained in more than a century of struggles. This is the context of our International Women’s Day Commemoration this year.
Strewn along the path of neoliberalism are the tortured bodies of hundreds of millions of working women squeezed dry by monopoly capitalist extraction of superprofits. Outsourcing by big multinational corporations have depressed already low wages of workers, with developing countries trying to outdo each other in offering the lowest possible wages to outbid their rivals for contracts. Contractualization of labor, increased production quotas, shorter breaks, and extended working hours have now become the norm.
In the drive to bring down production costs, safety measures are ignored. Workers are often locked up in workplaces to prevent escapes, thus turning factories into death traps. In 2013 alone, thousands of women workers perished in fires in factories in the Philippines and Bangladesh. But most devastating was the collapse of a building in Bangladesh, which killed a thousand of women garments workers. These factories manufacture brand-name clothes sold at high prices in the US and EU.
Land and resource grabbing accelerated by neoliberal policies are rendering hundreds of millions of peasant and indigenous women and their families landless and without income source while imperiling food security. An estimated 80 million hectares of land in many countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia have been subjected to land grab deals, often involving their very own governments. Large-scale mining has destroyed the environment, thus rendering natural disasters more fatal, especially to women and children who make up 70% of the victims.
At the base of imperialist globalization are the millions upon millions of women living under slave-like conditions while the imperialists rake up superprofits. They fill up the void created by the privatization of social services, such as child and health care. In a world of increasing food prices and food insecurity, they take on multiple work to feed their children. Their vulnerability to violence is heightened by the increasing poverty of their families.
Imperialist economic plunder and competition are the reasons behind the US military pivot to Asia and the Pacific. Its aim is to ensure the continued resource domination of US imperialism in the region. This in turn will result in the further deterioration of the economic situation of Asia’s peoples. The new basing arrangements and increased rotational presence of US forces will put more impoverished young Asian women and children into the clutches of sex exploiters.
Women all over the world are driven by their dire situation to unite and fight for their rights. From year to year, as the global crisis worsens, the women’s movement has raised its level of resolve and militancy and widened its various arenas of action. Women are fighting not only for their very existence but also for the lives of their children and grandchildren. Outraged, they vigorously expose, condemn and oppose the doublespeak of their own governments which try to equate neoliberal policies to development.
Women are at the forefront of mass protests and demands for democratization or anti-militarization, or against neoliberal policies and for genuine land reform and national industrialization. In increasing numbers, they join national liberation movements as armed fighters. They build women’s organizations that are part of the people’s struggle and take up issues that are specific to women such as VAW and women discrimination. In the midst of repressive governments, women have shown courage and have fought for their rights even at the risk of losing their life, limb and liberty.
Women are reaching out to each other across nations in a show of unprecedented solidarity against imperialism. They are providing support for each other’s struggle. The latest example of solidarity has been shown by women’s organizations from every part of the globe, including the US, Europe and Canada, to the striking women garments workers of Cambodia. Ultimately, it is the billions of toiling women, fighting in concert with their toiling brothers and united across the globe, who will strike the deathblow to imperialism.
Women of the world unite!
Resist imperialist plunder and military aggression!
Struggle and fight for women’s liberation!