Forging the Future: Women at the Forefront of Struggle in Asia and the Pacific


APRN Statement for International Working Women’s Day 2023

On the 113th anniversary of International Working Women’s Day, the Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) stands in solidarity with women struggling against socio-economic crisis and growing imperialist aggression globally and in their home countries. Women workers are rising up against exploitation and leading struggles in communities and workplaces. Together with peoples’ movements, they continue to gain victories against gender-related violence and their right to employment, a living wage, humane working conditions, social protection, and basic human rights. 

Globally, women suffer abject conditions and grave oppression under the world capitalist system. The impacts of decades worth of neoliberal dogma imposed by imperialist powers are acutely felt by them. As women account for 47% of the global workforce, many are subjected to slave-level wages and inhumane working conditions in plantations, factories, and various service sectors. 

The unabated soaring prices gravely affect rural women workers, especially in developing countries. Their means of livelihood have already become impossible to maintain as the costs of farm inputs also increased. This condition has brought their income close to nothing while being plunged into deeper debt. Moreover, rural women workers who account for almost half of the agricultural workforce in developing countries have become vulnerable to food price spikes, labor market discrimination, pay inequity, and dimensions of food insecurity. 

The International Labor Organization (ILO) projects that global employment growth will only be 1.0% this 2023. Unemployment will likely rise to approximately 3 million keeping global unemployment at around 16 million above the pre-COVID-19 benchmark set in 2019. According to a country report presented by the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) on the state of women in the Philippines, one out of four women employed in retail services lost her job in 2022.  

Working class women are forced to bear the brunt of these excruciating socio-economic conditions while being confronted by the lack of enabling environment where they can enjoy rights and protection, and participate meaningfully in society. 

The US and other imperialist nations are becoming increasingly dependent on war. In their competition for global dominance, they relentlessly feed their war machines. They continue to unleash wars of aggression, as well as military and political interventions in countries, particularly in Asia and the Pacific. Through their puppet regimes, there has been an escalation of harassment, arrests, killings, and other forms of suppression to quell dissent and crush people’s resistance. In many countries, women who are at the forefront of people’s struggles are at the receiving end of these attacks. 

In the Philippines alone, targeted attacks on labor unions and workers’ organizations are intensifying. Just last year, a women’s rights activist and unionist was arrested by the police for trumped charges. 

But despite these threats, women across the globe continue to rise up for their rights and against imperialism, fascism, and all forms of reaction. Women migrant workers in their host countries are going out en masse to demand protection from systemic discrimination, exploitation, and modern-day slavery. 

In Japan, the #MeToo movement is gaining ground as women media workers are organizing themselves and speaking out to expose the widespread sexual harassment and assault in the industry. 

On the eve of International Working Women’s Day, the rural women of the Philippines demanded the release of peasant women political prisoners while calling for an end to the militarization of rural communities. 

Predominantly women garment workers are taking action to push back against exploitation in South and Southeast Asia. Last February, unions initiated a campaign uniting workers across six countries to call for accountability from major fashion corporations.

Women continue to join mass protests against neoliberal policies and for genuine land reform and national industrialization. They continue to build women’s organizations that advocate for people’s rights and take up issues such as violence against women and various forms of discrimination. They are relentless as women struggle against the current oppressive and exploitative system while building solidarity for genuine social change.

APRN joins the call of working women across the globe for decent work, a living wage, social protection, and respect for basic rights. International Working Women’s Day is an opportune time to demand justice, hold imperialist power accountable, and recognize the critical role of women in struggling for emancipation and liberation.#





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