The International Working Women’s Day (IWWD) this 8th of March comes in the midst of a dire global crisis caused by monopoly capitalism in the 21st century: neoliberalism. The neoliberal policies have effected, among others, extremely low wages, massive flexibilization of work, uncontrolled high prices, and the decline in the quality and accessibility of social services as state support shrinks and profit-oriented businesses and corporations take over.
GABRIELA, together with the organizations of Commission 7 of the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS), call on the working-class women of the world to continue the fight against imperialist intervention and imposition.
The neoliberal onslaught on the peoples of resource-rich but poor countries escalates, succumbing to neo-colonial situation of being the dumping ground of overproduction, the supply of raw materials, and the source of cheap labor.
Working-class women all over the world experience the exploitative nature of neoliberal policy’s flexibilization of labor: casualization of employment, wage discrimination, long working hours, compulsory overtime, and disregard of labor laws. Women’s participation in the workforce is only 62.9%, reportedly the lowest in 15 years. The onslaught of the pandemic worsens the unavailability of job opportunities that result to more impoverishment and lower levels of mental wellbeing. Worse, one in three women or 736 million have experienced violence. Because of lack of job opportunities in their home countries, around 70 million women (ILO, 2019) work abroad, mostly as service workers.
With deregulation of prices, costs of food and other basic commodities are at their highest in many countries. The rising cost of living is gobbling up the workers’ wages. Inflation and rising prices have caused more than 685 million people in poverty (World Bank, April 2022). Around the world – France, United Kingdom, US, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, China, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, among others – the workers are striking because as the prices go up constantly, their wages have not. Wickedly, 1.1% of the world’s population hold 45.8% of the world’s wealth. Most of the rich belong to North America and Europe. This one percent has even got richer during the height of COVID-19 pandemic.
Organized labor has entered into a new period of unrest as monopoly capitalists continue to push for free trade. In return, capitalists assault through escalation of accumulation and instigation of war. Led by the United States, the imperialist powers spread their tentacles all over the world – especially to resource-rich countries of the South – and instigate wars. At the same time, national governments collaborate, succumb to semi-colonial condition and resort to fascism.
Foreign militarist intervention and fascist governments arise in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Colombia, Somalia, Yemen, Myanmar, India, the Philippines, among others. The US government has also primarily impose unequal treaties with its lackeys in countries like the Philippines and station its military forces and bases within the country. The US replica of “anti-terrorism law” has been copied in Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America. Many human rights defenders have been abducted, illegally arrested, detained, harassed, and even killed.
In the Philippines alone, there are 828 political detainees, where 130 of them are women, 17 victims of extrajudicial killings, 156 abducted and remained missing (Karapatan, 2022). The return to power of the Marcoses – the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. – makes the condition of the working-class people more grim.
Despite fascist measures, the crisis of overproduction remains that slumps deeper the economies of the West into long systemic financial depression and crashes. Competition among the imperialist countries intensifies, as evidenced in the escalating wars of aggression between US and China, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and the expanding military bases of the US, its allies, and other imperialist countries.
As such, we—the working-class women of the world—must stand together and contribute to the worldwide peoples’ struggle for social justice and an end to imperialist plunder. We must link arms with the toiling masses everywhere and defend our rights and sovereignty amid intensifying fascism and imperialist intervention.
We have proven historically that women can start a spark that can ignite the fire of change. We can shift the power to the people and topple the one percent. Women can be a formidable part of the desired change, as is often said: we hold up half the sky.#