SULONG GABRIELA! 25 YEARS AND FORWARD!
GABRIELA-USA Celebrates International Working Women’s Day with Month Long Activities Culminating in the Formation of the First Overseas Chapter of GABRIELA- USA
Los Angeles, CA–To honor International Working Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Babae, FIRE, and PINAY sa Seattle will undertake a slew of activities during this March 2009. These celebrations will culminate in the National Founding Assembly of GABRIELA-USA, where Filipinas from across the nation will gather on March 29, 2009 at the University of California, Los Angeles Downtown Labor Center, to establish the first overseas chapter of the Philippine-based progressive women’s alliance, GABRIELA. Presenting the keynote address will be GABRIELA’s renowned Secretary General, Emmi de Jesus.
This commemoration of 25 years of GABRIELA history comes at a very challenging time for women all over the world. In the Philippines, the current global economic crisis affects Filipino families gravely as the daily struggle for wage, healthcare and basic social services become increasingly more difficult. The Philippine import-dependent and export-oriented economy is heavily reliant on remittances from overseas workers. Filipina women, who represent over 70% of the overseas workers, are dramatically affected due to dwindling dollars impacting the welfare of families still living in the Philippines. According to the Philippine Department of Labor, over 3,770 workers were sent abroad daily for work in 2008 and in the same year, ten million overseas Filipino workers (OFW’s) remitted over $16.4 Billion USD.
The Philippine government heralds these economic gains as national successes, yet it neither recognizes the vulnerabilities and exploitation of overseas workers, nor protects individuals when they face abuse. In the past year, over 20 overseas workers were sent home in body bags labeled “mysterious deaths,” but are suspected cases of employer abuse. Despite this, the Philippine government, under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has responded by increasing the number of laborers sent abroad, rather than strengthening the local economy which might help retain talent and skills within the nation. Continue reading