Women’s organizations held a protest march against “imperialism, militarism and exploitation” at the World Bank and the White House in Washington DC days before International Women’s Day last Saturday, March 4.
Led by the International Women’s Alliance (IWA) and grassroots Filipino group Gabriela-USA, hundreds of protesters called to place “women over profit” and to expose the “continuing impact of US imperialism on the Filipino people.”
The protesters began their rally before the World Bank, accusing the international organization of aiding “global suppression through foreign aid that perpetuates national debts.”
Before the White House, the protesters demanded the end of US intervention in countries abroad such as the Philippines, accusing its government of funding militarism abroad instead of social services such as education.
“This country claims to be a beacon of freedom and democracy, while locking children in cages and forcing families to be separated!” Gabriela-USA said.
IWA’s Katie Comfort said the situation of women throughout the world calls for their unity of women, urging their ranks to organize further.
“Women are uniting around the world against US imperialism and [women in the] the US [have] to be a part of that movement,” Comfort said.
Also on Saturday, IWA launched its campaign “Meet Women’s Needs; Stop Corporate Greed” in a conference that seeks to address the failings of the US government to meet the needs of women and their families.
The march was also participated in by Terrapin Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (TerpCHRP) Palestinian Youth Movement, Katarungan DC, CODEPINK, United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), Committee in Solidarity of the People of El Salvador (CISPES), Anti-Imperialist Action at University of Maryland Baltimore County, International League of Peoples Struggles (ILPS), African National Women’s Organization, and Resist U.S. Led War.
Gabriela-HK calls for protection of OFWs
In Hong Kong, Gabriela’s chapter in the Chinese territory protested against the Philippine government’s continuing labor export program on International Women’s Day 2023.
“Instead of creating decent jobs with living wages in the Philippines as a solution to the worsening poverty we experience, the Marcos Jr-Duterte administration only intensifies the peddling of our Filipino women and men as cheap labor commodities overseas,” Gabriela Hong Kong chairperson Shiela Tebia-Bonifacio said in a statement.
Bonifacio said the Philippine government refuses to learn from a growing number of violations committed against the rights, dignity and lives of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) despite incidents such as the gruesome death of Jullebee Ranaro in Kuwait earlier this year.
“While it was forced to respond to the demands for justice for Ranaro’s death, the Philippine government remains lacking when it comes to championing OFW rights, welfare and dignity,” Bonifacio said.
Bonifacio also cited the non-response of the Philippine government and even the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong over the racist comment of Hong Kong legislator Elizabeth Quat describing women migrant domestic workers as a mere “product”.
Gabriela Hong Kong also condemned the government for attacking and labelling as terrorists the many migrant organizations and leaders critical of the government’s programs.
“Clearly, the current regime of President Marcos only aims to continue the legacy left by his father, the ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos – ensuring the suffering of the Filipino women and men through its exploitative and oppressive policies,” the group said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)