KASAMA Vol. 22 No. 1 / January-February-March 2008 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

Resistances and Actions Summarise Women’s Month

Women around the world celebrated International Women’s Day, March 8, by organising resistances and actions because they were not content with celebrating past achievements or accepting the token gestures of their governments.

ISIS Graphic

In Manila —

On International Women’s Day, Philippine women’s groups marched from Quezon City to the historic Plaza Miranda in Manila.

On the morning of March 8, 2008 women and men, mostly members of labour unions, held a short programme before joining a larger group marching towards Mendiola Bridge, just a few metres away from the Presidential Palace which has been a centre of demonstrations since the Marcos dictatorship.

Legislator, Risa Hontiveros of party-list Akbayan said of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, “Her incompetent, draconian and graft-ridden regime has become an easy target of machismo, feeding into widespread but flawed notions that women are unfit to lead. The women’s movement and various women leaders struggled so hard to correct these notions, but gains that we have made to advance the cause of Filipino women have been single–handedly ruined by GMA.”

By noon, 10,000 women from the coalition Babala (a Filipino word meaning “warning”), short for Babae Laban sa Katiwalian (women against corruption) arrived at Plaza Miranda. Rep. Liza Masa of the women’s party-list Gabriela, called for the resignation of the President, whose family and allies have been linked to a multi-million dollar broadband network project. “In the wake of large scale bribery and overpriced contracts – from fertilizers and boulevards to information highways, railroads and cyber education to name a few – the Arroyo leadership has betrayed public trust, abused and plundered public funds. Women in this country have nothing to lose and so much to gain should the one woman in the highest position of power in this country resign,” she said.

Aside from Gabriela, among the convenors of the afternoon rally was Isis International board member and former Philippine senator, Leticia Ramos-Shahani. She also criticised the national broadband network deal during the launch of Isis’ Peoples Communications for Development (PC4D) book and campaign. “The introduction of ICTs (information and communication technologies), like in the case of the National Broadband Network is based on the notion that these will lead to empowerment and development for all. This ICT-centric development is the reason that we are interrogating this framework to determine the most effective communication tools used by intermediary groups to reach grassroots women.” The PC4D book and campaign were formally unveiled on March 10 at Bahay ni Isis, with more than a hundred participants from various communities in Metro Manila.

Source: We! March 2008, issue 2

In Brisbane —

On March 8 the rally in Queen’s Park included speakers and entertainment followed by a march through the city to the Jagera Arts Centre for the Indigenous Women’s Festival organised by the Musgrave Park Cultural Centre Inc. This year’s theme was “Women Shaping the Future”.

Gubi Gubi Elder Aunty Valda Coolwell gave the Welcome to Country acknowledging the Turrbal and Yuggera peoples and thanked them for allowing us to walk, talk and gather on their traditional land. In the speakers forum, Biri woman Gracelyn Smallwood, a nurse and midwife from Townsville, talked about the Stolen Generations, “We cannot have ‘sorry’ in this country without reparations,” and about the Northern Territory intervention being “a land grab for uranium.” Forum speakers made reference also to the Close The Gap and Stolen Wages campaigns. Local musicians included Dawn Daylight and Jenni Pineapple, there was an exhibition of paintings by Rosita Douglas, and poet Yvette Holt and novelist Melissa Lucashenko were also present.