Title: Philippines: Women bearing the cross of globalization.
Source: Women's International Network News, Autumn98, Vol. 24 Issue 4, p62, 2p
Abstract: Talks about the impact of globalization on women in the Philippines. Marginalization of the working women; Philippine-styled globalization; Some examples of the impact of globalization on Filipino women; Displacement of Filipino peasant women; Narrow opportunities for Filipino women; Global sale of Filipino women and children.

GABRIELA -- Women's Update: P.O. Box 4386, Manila 1800, PHILIPPINES

"GABRIELA National Alliance of Women in the Philippines resumed publication of the GABRIELA Women's Update, a quarterly newsletter starting with Volume 8, Number 1 (January -- March 1998).

Globalization, the supposed cure for underdevelopment and poverty in Third World countries, turned out to be a toxic prescription: in the Philippines it meant further marginalization of the working women.

In mid-1997, currency devaluation hit hard countries in the Asia Pacific, followed by massive layoffs and retrenchment of local and migrant workers, bankruptcy of financial institutions ...

The policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization as imposed by the IMF-WB through the GATT-WTO and regional economic cooperation such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), had made it possible for these economies to be vulnerable to attacks..


The policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization started way back in the 1970's during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Ex-president Corazon Aquino, who assumed office after Marcos, also put it in writing.

The Ramos administration followed suit, consistently institutionalizing such policies through laws and validating the country's willingness to ride the bandwagon of 'globalization' through international agreements (GATT-WTO) and binding regional cooperation (APEC) ...

By the start of 1995, immediately after the government signed GATT-WTO in December 1994, Filipinos were treated with a threat of oil price increase. Also a by-product of the structural adjustment program, the GATT-WTO, where the Philippine government also pledged to import rice from foreign countries, the rice crisis occurred. Deregulating government subsidies had caused the sudden increase in rice price.

Then came the other laws -- liberalization of investments, banking and trade, privatization of government-owned companies and corporations and the latest is the deregulation of the oil industry.


As of March 1997, the government had approved applications for land conversion covering 50,720 hectares of agricultural land. On the other hand it had also cancelled land awards given to Filipino farmers covering 23,847 hectares. The crop-conversion and land-conversion policies only worsen the displacement of Filipino peasant women. More than 3 million hectares of rice and corn-producing lands are being converted, threatening the livelihood of two thirds of the total population of peasant women ...

Of the 2.3 thousand women directly involved in agricultural work, 1.4 are not even compensated. And of these, they earn less than 10 centavos for every peso earned by their male counterpart. Yet, even this meager source of livelihood is at the threshold of vanishing. In Southern Mindanao, plantations of bananas, cocoa, sugar and rubber are now in deep trouble with the weakening export of these products ...

The much-touted Export Processing Zones (EPZ's), supposedly proof that the Philippines is indeed on its way towards becoming a newly industrialized country, was expected to benefit from the peso devaluation. In truth, they suffered as much setback as the rest of the industries with imported components comprising 35-40% of the production cost in these EPZ's. About 80 to 90% of the total workforce in these EPZ's are women..

The government policies continually taper the already narrow opportunities for Filipino women. Of the 30.5 thousand labor force in the country, 11.35 thousand or 37.2% are women ... 3,107.000 or 27.3% of women in the labor force remain unemployed or underemployed. Most of them can be found in agriculture, fishery and forestry; community social and personal services; wholesale and retail services and manufacture.

The new oil deregulation law (RA 8479, approved by the IMF-WB) ensured the perpetual rise in oil prices causing price increase in all other basic commodities and utilities ...

Philippine education has truly been commercialized under the present administration. It remains a privilege in the Philippines especially with the government allotting only 16% of the national budget for it. Colleges and universities have announced tuition fee increases, from 12% 300%, by the start of the next school year.

Privatization of hospitals and health institutions is also widespread, further diminishing health services for women. Women coming from the poorer sections of society within Manila usually avail of the cheap, sometimes free services of the Jose Fabella Medical Center, a hospital specializing in maternal care. With its planned privatization, this specialized hospital is expected to become profit-oriented, thus making it inaccessible to marginalized women ...


The Philippine economy is in a state of total quandary. The government now clings desperately to its major dollar-earners -- labor export and tourism. Last year the government was able to create only 1.063 thousand jobs with 62% or 660,000 for overseas employment ... Though this means the sexual exploitation, the physical abuse of many Filipino women, the labor export policy is expected to continue due to the amount of dollars it generates.

In the first quarter of 1997, the amount of dollar remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFW's) reached 54% of the country's currency deposits. These earnings come from more than 7 thousand Filipinos working abroad, 385 thousand of whom are women. Most women overseas workers are employed as domestic helpers and entertainers, forms of employment where Filipino women are vulnerable to abuse.

Trafficking of Filipino women in other countries for prostitution, sex slavery or labor bondage has become wide-spread. In Canada, many Filipino women work as 'dancers' in clubs. There are around 20,000 Filipino mail-order brides in Australia.

Around 5,000 Filipinos enter the US as mail-order brides every year since 1986. Poverty-stricken women and children migrating from rural to urban areas have also become targets of syndicates involved in the sex trade. Sex trafficking of women is nothing more than an extension of the sex tourism dominating the local tourism industry. Sex tours, which originated in the 70's continue to this day. In the past five years, the number of registered 'sex workers' have increased in areas which are targeted as growth centers and where tourism is a thriving industry ... The number of prostituted women increase just as the number of entertainment establishments increase ... From the rural areas to urban centers, in and outside the country, Filipino women are being displaced and commodified ...

Already during the 1994 Women's International Solidarity Affair in the Philippines (WISAP), spearheaded by GABRIELA National Alliance of Women, 50 representatives of women's organizations all over the world were united in recognizing that ' ... this so-called global economy has disastrous results on women all over the world.' The women resolved to expose the real issues behind 'globalization' and actively campaign against it.

The same position and commitment were reiterated in 1996, when the 4th APEC Leaders' Summit was held in the Philippines ...

Last March 8, thousands of women from all over the Philippines joined the commemoration of the International Women's Day condemning the worsening attacks on the women's lives and the intensifying violence against women.

Even as 'globalization' is being bannered as the economic philosophy at the turn of the new millenium, militant women in the Philippines, as well as in other countries, vow to continue the struggle towards the true liberation of women."

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