The National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada (NAPWC) greets International Women’s Day (IWD) with heightened militancy and salutes the legacy of resistance of thousands of women before us in putting women’s liberation at the forefront of women’s struggles. The NAPWC also calls on all progressive women in Canada and around the world to intensify our struggle against the escalating attacks on women launched to quell the growing movement for genuine women’s equality and liberation.
For over two decades, we, Filipino-Canadian women of NAPWC, have been steadfast and firm in our call to struggle for the struggle of women from the South, whose lives and future continue to be battered by the violent impacts of neo-liberal agenda of globalization. We, Filipino-Canadian women of NAPWC, remain strong and clear in stating that the liberation of all women from the South, such as the Philippines, is integral and central to the overall liberation of women.
As progressive women, we will not accept that the future reserved for us is that of continuous exploitation and oppression as women of colour and as workers. We strongly refuse to be denied our right and full entitlement to call on all women to seriously look at women’s concerns from the perspective of class struggle, racial discrimination, gender oppression and the struggle of women from the South for national and social liberation.
While the imposition of neo-liberal agenda hammers the nation, as evident in the desperate moves of the current Conservative government, under Prime Minister Harper, to overhaul immigration and labour policies, to name a few, the intensity of its impacts is targeted and hammered directly onto marginalized women of colour in Canada, particularly on Filipino women.
The implementation of one of the neo-liberal agenda of Canada is evident in the rapid expansion of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) and the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). Preying on the desperation of Filipino women who are forced to leave the Philippines, Canada, through Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) perfected the LCP, its predecessor the Foreign Domestic Movement (FDM), and carries on sculpting the TFWP, in order to have a reserve pool of cheap labour to be utilized and disposed off when not needed anymore.
Touted by Canada as a “model” labour and immigration program all over the world, the LCP is a federal program that brings in thousands of women from the South, over 90% of whom are from the Philippines, to provide childcare and eldercare to upper-class and middle-class Canadian families. The LCP is Canada’s de facto national childcare and eldercare program.
As such, the LCP is a ploy of the current Canadian government and the previous governments, to distort and co-opt the concept of women’s equality and liberation. The LCP thrives on the blood, sweat and tears of Filipino women in Canada. Indeed, the “liberation and equality” of one group of women flourish from the exploitation and oppression of our women.
The LCP also serves as a fundamental pillar in the ongoing effort of the current Conservative government to reinforce and galvanize the privatization of healthcare and eldercare in Canada. It also serves to facilitate and perpetuate the modern-day slavery of Filipino women. It is an anti-woman and racist program that is fundamentally flawed and therefore, cannot be reformed, but rather, must be scrapped. To call for and accept any reforms to the LCP is not only a disservice to all women in Canada, but is to accept the role of being agents and brokers of the neo-liberal agenda of imperialism.
We have long been the prime targets of violence against women. With over 65% of our women forced to migrate due to poverty and joblessness in the Philippines, we are hit with the hardest and the most vicious blows and attacks of neo-liberal policies. It leaves us toiling in Canada. Everyday, we have to contend with the reality that as women workers, we are Canada’s top source of cheap labour. The most dirty, difficult, dangerous and low-paying jobs are reserved and have always been reserved for women from the South. The growing Filipino-Canadian community is a testament of that need for cheap, yet skilled labour. However, as we fill in the jobs that no other Canadians will take, the presence of Filipino women in Canada is marked by de-skilling and underdevelopment.
While we come to Canada carrying high-levels of educational attainment and professional achievement, our development is deliberately stripped away from us. We are systemically relegated to a lifetime of housework and domestic work. The transfer, of these ‘traditional’ roles of women to women from the South, not only undermines the overall women’s struggle for genuine development, but more importantly, perpetuates and condones the re-feudalization of Filipino women which further contributes to their underdevelopment as women, in a country that prides itself as a developed, industrialized nation.
Despite the celebration and achievements of IWD, we must not forget and should not ignore the plight of millions of women from the South. Hence, we, at the NAPWC, advance our call for genuine women’s solidarity where the centre of the struggle is according to the reality of the women from the South.
Thus, in celebration of IWD, members of NAPWC, marched on the streets of Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal with linked arms and raised fists to advance the struggle for genuine women’s liberation. We also challenge all progressive women in Canada to forge genuine unity and solidarity with the struggle of our women.
As we strengthen our resolve to end the exploitation and march for liberation, the struggles of the oppressed, marginalized and working-class women must always be at the forefront of the struggle of the women’s movement.
Scrap the anti-woman and racist LCP!
Expose and oppose neo-liberal policies!
Down with imperialism!
Long live international solidarity!
End the exploitation, march for genuine women’s liberation!
Organizations under the NAPWC:
Philippine Women Centre of B.C.
Philippine Women Centre of Ontario
Philippine Women Centre of Quebec
Philippine Women Centre of Manitoba