Being Leaders on the Revolutionary Road Towards Women’s Liberation: International Working Women’s Day Statement from the National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada (NAPWC)

This year, we celebrate International Women’s Day and move forward in our struggle for women’s liberation by challenging ourselves to expand and assert our vision of a just and equal society. Here in Canada and around the world, we are tackling the blatant and insidious nature of women’s oppression. Forced migration, domestic servitude, sexual commodification, lack of or denial of reproductive rights, physical/sexual violence and increasing economic marginalization are current realities Filipino women and women all over the world continue to face. These blatant attacks on women’s lives and well-being under the evolving tactics of neoliberal globalization make women’s leadership at the forefront of true social change more necessary than ever. We recognize the need to connect our struggles and nurture alliances with women across communities in order to strengthen our leadership in manifesting the necessary changes in our community and in our present society.

For over 25 years, we, along with our sister organizations, have been campaigning against Canada’s Caregiver Program, also known under its previous guises of the Live-in Caregiver Program and the Foreign Domestic Movement. The program has been reformed and repackaged time and time again, with band-aid solutions falsely announced as progressive solutions to the violence women under the program face. The exploitive nature of the program is enough for regular Canadians to question its very existence. If not for the false humanitarian notion that Canada purports to offer liberation or aid to women of the global south, like the Philippines, by giving them an “opportunity” to find work in Canada, a united call to scrap the program would be unquestionable.

Instead, this too often perpetuated and simplified notion continues to be used even in so called “progressive” circles. This must instead be shattered to expose reality: it is capitalist, imperialist countries like Canada, through free trade agreements and resource extraction companies, that continue to plunder and perpetuate the underdevelopment of the Philippines and its people.

As well, despite the Liberal government’s posturing and appeals to amending childcare and protecting caregivers, their continued support in the rebranding of a modern day slavery program signifies a clear interest in maintaining a hierarchy of racialized, temporary labour at the disposal of Canada’s economic and elite interests. For us as Filipino women, we see the crucial role that the Caregiver Program plays in our community’s marginalization within Canadian society.

No amount of reform can resolve the fact that it is poor, working class women of colour who continue to pay the heaviest prices for economic restructuring and globalization. As evidenced by our legacy of women’s resistance, our hands were not wrought and the ongoing struggle for liberation is not being fought only to uphold the systems of oppression that keep women locked into marginalization.

We, as NAPWC, know that our resistance against modern day slavery is intrinsically tied to the struggle of women across communities. As we move forward in our struggle for women’s liberation, we must build a connected, allied vision of true women’s liberation. We will continue taking a stand for women now, not later, or to wait as many will try to tell us. The realities of women’s oppression are all too pressing for us to simply wait. Our knowledge, experiences and critical analysis make us the strong leaders our movements need. Let us continue on our revolutionary path and continue our struggle to realize our collective vision of a liberated community, of women’s liberation, and genuine social transformation.

End the exploitation, march for genuine women’s liberation!
End violence against women! Women’s liberation is not negotiable!
Expose and oppose neoliberal policies!
Long live international working women’s solidarity! 

Qara Clemente or Arielle Dela Cruz Yip
Philippine Women Centre of British Columbia

Charie Siddayao
Philippine Women Centre of Ontario