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International Women's Day in the Philippines

Today, women in the Philippines and all over the world gather in different places and spaces to show our collective strength and make our collective voice heard as we speak out our sufferings, challenges, triumphs and aspirations. Our voices are joined together as we resist the abuses and marginalization wrought upon us by economic policies that discriminate against giving women productive employment, just wages and benefits at the workplace, and opportunities for livelihood and income; by societies that allow, or even promote, violence to be committed against women with impunity; by governments and public institutions that turn a blind eye to the human rights of women.
We march to the streets, gather in spaces of protest and launch myriad forms of collective action, as we draw our strength from the wisdom forged by the herstorical struggle of our ancestors and our continuing efforts to sustain these struggles. We are telling our governments, the men in our societies, the people and institutions whose actions, policies, perspectives, ideologies and behaviour maintain the political, social and economic oppression of women that change we want, and change we are making happen.

Here in the Philippines, the state of the majority of Filipino women remains precarious. True, there has been renewed hope under a new government that promises to be the total opposite of the inept government that GMA's administration was and to undertake reforms in governance, but this breath of fresh air is so thin it is fast depleting, threatening once again the gains that the women's movement in the Philippines have achieved.

Even as the Aquino government is feeding us with platefuls of rhetoric, the reality speaks stronger and more truthfully. The promise of poverty alleviation has fallen short—and what we have now is a government that is promoting an economic policy with nothing new to offer and has been tried and tested as far as exacerbating conditions detrimental to workers and other basic sectors is concerned. The Public-Private-Partnerships or PPP have in the past resulted in increased outsourcing, casualization and contractualization of work. The PPP now is nothing but "build-operate-transfer on steroids," which will only deepen privatization of more public utilities and services, making these more expensive and prohibitive for the basic masses. Privatization in the past two decades has successfully handed over large sectors/industries of the economy to the hands of oligopolies. Privatization together with liberalization and deregulation ushered in years of jobless growth, precarious work and declining real wages. The PPP will further weaken labor and trade union rights, as it worsens poverty situations of the basic sectors, including urban and rural poor women and women workers. The Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan or MTPDP where it is contained lacks an industrialization program, despite consultations. We are anxious that the workers yet to be repatriated given the Middle East turmoil will not be absorbed into local employment.

Filipino women have no access to and control over economic resources in the same way that we continue to be deprived of control over our own bodies—our health and reproductive capacities. The traditional politicians in the legislature cannot stand up to the influential Catholic Church and has held hostage for a long time now a reproductive health bill that has been relegated in the back burner of Congress. President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) made a verbal commitment that he supports reproductive rights, as it is articulated in the Constitution, but as with his other pronouncements, he hasn't undertaken a more concrete action to support the bill. He didn't even include this bill in the list of the priority legislative agenda of his government.

If the state's efforts to protect women from harsh economic conditions has been found wanting, another kind of violence is posing as much danger to Filipino women—this is the increasing violence committed by government security forces, as seen in the recent cases involving a woman vendor that was raped by a police officer in a police station, of a child victim of sexual abuse and trafficking whose abuser the police chose to protect, of women activists and a female teacher that the police in Central Luzon threatened because of their political activities.

P-Noy has paid lip service to the promotion of human rights, but his rhetoric has not been translated into justice for victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings and their families. No soldier or paramilitary group has been made accountable for these disappearances and killings, and violations of human rights.

With its commitment to continue pursuing the Visiting Forces Agreement, the P-Noy government is turning a blind eye to the harmful impact of such arrangement. The VFA has not only compromised the sovereignty of our country but has resulted in more cases of abuse and prostitution of women and, through the unconventional warfare the VFA promotes, has exacerbated forced migration of families.

If the government is unable to give justice to victims of violence and abuse in the home front, outside the country Filipino women working abroad face a more imperilled situation. They have often been abandoned during situations of abuse and violence. Legal assistance from government has often been slow in coming if not altogether denied. Rescue of Filipino women from households and work places where they have been exposed to risks of physical, emotional and psychological abuses is more exception than norm. This despite the fact that the number of Filipino women pushed to work abroad has been increasing because of lack of decent jobs in the country—in 2009, 71000 Filipino women left the country to work as workers/helpers in households; they made up 21 percent of the newly hired in the top 10 job categories abroad. While many local households benefit from their remittances, working in the private homes of their employers have placed them in situations very vulnerable to abuse, ranging from maltreatment to sexual harassment, including rape. In addition, their absence has had negative impact on some two million children left behind without mothers.

Meanwhile, the government's efforts to get diplomatic agreements with countries where there are significant populations of Filipino women working have often been weak; in several cases even a failure. Such weak response from government shows lack of recognition, maybe even ignorance, of the presence of abuses in other societies.

In this light we recognize that the women's struggle is one of solidarity, because violence and disregard for women's human rights are happening within other societies of the world and are allowed, even supported, by certain states. In particular, the Philippine women's movement is affirming its commitment to support women in Burma who continue to suffer all forms of abuses perpetrated by a brutal, rogue state, which is using rape as a weapon of war and promoting discrimination based on ethnicity.

On this occasion of the international day of women, we Filipino women continue our struggles; we shout out our protest; we are angered by the oppressors and abusers of women all over the world.

But we dream too; we remain inspired by our visions of a better world for women and other marginalized, discriminated members of society.
Our cries of resistance are reinforced by our joyful shouts affirming our aspirations—Kabuhayan, katarungan, kapangyarihan sa kababaihan, kontrol sa sariling katawan, kaligtasan sa karahasan, kapayapaan!

Akbayan-Youth • Amnesty International • APL-Women • Asian Circle 1325 • Bagong Kamalayan • BATIS • Batis-AWARE • Buklod - Olongapo • CATW-AP • Center for Migrants' Advocacy • Center for Overseas Workers • Development Action for Women Network (DAWN) • Focus on the Global South • Free Burma Coalition • Freedom from Debt Coalition • Initiatives for International Dialogue • KAISA-KA • LRC-KSK/FOE-Phils. • Movement for the Advancement of Student Power (MASP) • Medical Action Group (MAG) • Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) • PKKK • Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) • PREDA • SARILAYA • SCAP • Transform Asia • TWMAE • UP Sigma Alpha Nu - Manila & Los Banos • WEDPRO • WomanHealth • Women's Legal Bureau • Welga ng Kababaihan • Women's Crisis Center • Youth and Students for the Advancement of Gender Equality (YSAGE) • World March of Women - Pilipinas

 http://www.apl.org.ph/

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100 Years of International Women's Day

By Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)

In March 1911, the world saw the first marches and mass mobilizations commemorating International Women's Day, rallying to the call a year before by socialist leader and feminist Clara Zetkin at the 2nd International Conference of Working Women, to dedicate one day of each year to women's rights and demands. In several countries, women pushed for the right to vote and to hold public office, the right to work and for an end to discrimination in the workplace.

A hundred years hence, women continue to hold their place firmly and defiantly in the struggle. While many gains have been won, deeply embedded and prevalent discriminations continue to keep great numbers of women especially in the South largely marginalized and invisible. Many other obstacles arising from systemic structures of exploitation and oppression lie in the path of our political and economic empowerment.

The centenary of the International Women's Day events finds us in the period of neoliberal globalization, an age of increasingly widespread impoverishment as a handful of Northern states, transnational corporations, banks and national elites amass and consolidate wealth in unprecedented measure. It is a period when the environment and people's rights and well-are being swept aside by the primacy of the free market and trade agenda. It is a time when women's bodies and faculties, labor, time and energies are exploited as never before by the neoliberal policies that maintain this unjust dispensation.

The unhampered flow of goods and services has seen Northern governments and businesses capitalize on employment-scarce South countries for the cheapest production costs. This includes exploiting conditions where, due to persistent gender discrimination, women count among the most lowly paid. So too, are women targeted by labor-contracting arrangements with the intent of cutting business costs, which results in violations of such basic rights as the right to regular, secure employment and to the full range of social benefits guaranteed by law. Women are known to spend more than 64 hours a week on paid labor alone.

Neoliberal government policies of cutting social service budgets and privatizing essential services, at times in compliance with debt service obligations, also harness women's labor and time, exploiting the devalued costs of maintaining households and individuals. Women pick up the slack by finding non-market substitutes for goods and services that households can no longer afford when government surrenders its public service mandate to profit-seeking private interests such as water and energy companies. Surveys show that more than half of women's total work time is spent on unpaid, non-market work from childcare and food production to household chores and caring for the sick and the elderly. Women already spend, on average, 50-70 percent as much time as men on paid, market work, but also, almost twice as much time on unpaid domestic work.

Increasingly desperate conditions render women highly vulnerable to various forms of dirty, demeaning and dangerous work arising from and promoted by neoliberal globalization. Large numbers of women are in the informal sector, without social security protection. Millions of women are also in labor migration, their billion-dollar remittances propping up a succession of cash-strapped and debt-dependent Philippine administrations but still without effective safeguards against economic exploitation, physical maltreatment, psychological and sexual abuse.

Systemically rooted gender biases intersect with the heightened poverty of women resulting from such policies. Gender injustice blocks our way to economic justice as we remain targeted as women, by domestic violence, trafficking, harassment and rape; as grassroots women die in the thousands from unaddressed basic and reproductive health needs; as rights to equal pay and work are still violated because we are women.

Conditions of gender and economic injustice combined put women in positions of particular vulnerability that intensify in times of crisis. The global financial crisis continues to marginalize women economically -- eroding their livelihoods and food production, adding to their debt burdens, increasing their exploitation in both paid and unpaid work. Another global crisis is upon us, a crisis caused by the North's appropriation of the earth's atmosphere and natural resources, and whose consequences we are now being made to pay. The meager finances largely loaned out to South countries for climate adaptation will redound to extracting more of the labors of women who, by default, often compensate for unmet human needs in the face of any crisis.

The many rights and freedoms legally guaranteed today in internationally recognized covenants and treaties attest to the strides women have made over a century of struggle. But as we take stock of where we are today, we also realize the extent of the breach and more dangerously, the way these infringements on our rights are promoted by the pursuit of neoliberal policies. Disappointingly, it is business-as-usual for the Aquino administration, which has enshrined privatization - euphemistically called public-private partnerships -- front and center of its economic development policies. It has also not moved significantly beyond the Conditional Cash Transfer program when it should have embarked on a thoroughgoing process to substantively address chronic poverty and social injustice. It has not spoken on repealing the automatic appropriations law which has prioritized debt payments over any public need since the Marcos years or possibly cancelling illegitimate debts that only lined private pockets, damaged the environment and dislocated people and communities.

While we expect government to fulfill its legal obligation of respecting, protecting and fulfilling our rights, we also need to claim these rights lest they move farther beyond our grasp. We know well enough from lessons of a century's duration that the rights and entitlements women enjoy today, limited as they may be, not only came from hard struggle but have to be constantly claimed, defended and expanded.

To paraphrase Clara Zetkin, the reforms we win are important because they at least ease the burdens that economically disadvantaged and marginalized women bear, but the push has to go farther to change the political, economic, and socio-cultural systems and structures - patriarchy, class exploitation, and national oppression that oppress and discriminate against us and realize full economic empowerment especially of women in the grassroots.

We need to act now, and act resolutely, building greater depth and breadth into our movements, aiming for higher levels of resistance, stronger organization and firmer resolve.

Economic empowerment to grassroots women and women of the South!
Stop the privatization of essential services!
Repeal the automatic appropriations law! Cancel all illegitimate debts!
Gender justice, economic justice, climate justice NOW!

 http://www.fdc.ph/

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Women urge Congress: Pass Reproductive Health Bill, impeach Ombudsman Merciditas Gutierrez

by Akbayan (Citizens Action Party)

A day shy of the celebration of the international women's day, hundreds of women members from Akbayan Party trooped to the House of Representatives today to ask for the passage of a law on reproductive rights and the impeachment of woman public servant whom they claimed is misrepresenting them.

In a cultural event dubbed "Rhythm and Hymn: A tribute to Women and the RH bill", Akbayan-women registered their support to the reproductive health bill saying the passage of the proposed law would be a ground-breaking occasion as the sector celebrates the 100th anniversary of international women's day march.

Passage of RH, appropriate for 100 years of women's day march

Former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros said it would be a shame if the bill is not passed this year—the centenary of the international women's day march.

"As we celebrate 100 years of women activism and accomplishment, we ask our legislators to pass the reproductive health bill as their contribution to the overall struggle to broaden women rights," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros said despite the strong opposition from the Catholic church hierarchy, they are hopeful that Congress will pass the proposed legislative measure this year. "With the help of the women's fervent advocacy, we are very confident that before the year ends, the reproductive health bill will be passed as one of the landmark victories of modern Filipino women fighting for reproductive health rights and the expansion of their freedom to choose."

It was reported that the date—March 8—was chosen to celebrate women's rights because of an event that had occurred on that day in the United States. A women protest was organized on March 8, 1908 to demand the right to vote. The demonstration was such a success that the date was designated to become the "international women's day" dedicated to honour the continuing struggle for equal rights for all women in all countries.

In 1911, the first international women's day march took place. This year, women are celebrating the centenary of the first march.

Merci "misrepresenting" women, an "embarrassment"

Aside from the reproductive health bill, women advocates of Akbayan also called for the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez saying she is a "political discomfiture" to the ranks of Filipino women.

"Si Gutierrez ay isang malaking kahihiyan sa hanay ng mga kababaihan. Her dismal performance as head of the government's anti-graft office, much more her poor conduct as a woman public servant is despicable," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros said Gutierrez is misrepresenting women, especially those in government.

"While women fight for more spaces and positions to contribute to governance and nation-building, they are not like Gutierrez who stubbornly clings to a position the public no longer trusts her to occupy. At bagama't lumalaban ang mga kababaihan para sa pagpapalawig ng women power, hindi sila hayok sa kapangyarihan kagaya ni Merci," Hontiveros added.

"Anti-women"

Akbayan also said Gutierrez is "anti-women." "Despite being a woman herself, Gutierrez turned a blind eye on the violent dispersal of a 2006 women's day rally. She also did not recognize the illegality of my arrest from the same event," Hontiveros said.

In March 8, 2006, Hontiveros then a partylist lawmaker was allegedly arrested for participating in a rally celebrating international women's day. Despite her protest, members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) accosted her saying she was merely being "protected" from "dangerous elements."

Hontiveros filed a complaint against the police before the Office of the Ombudsman. Gutierrez ruled in favour of the PNP stating that Hontiveros "was not arrested."

The arrest was caught in video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9oPUy3OyVU) and is now part of the impeachment compliant filed against Gutierrez by Hontiveros together with retired Brigadier General Danilo Lim, and Felipe and Evelyn Pestano, parents of slain Philippine Navy Ensign Phillip Andrew Pestano.

 http://www.akbayan.org.ph/

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Repeal Military Agreements with US and Eradicate Abuse of Women

by KAISA KA (Unity of Women for Freedom)

KAISA KA, a transformational, grassroots-based, multi-sector organization of women in the Philippines joins the week-long activities of Peace Cycle Philippines 2011 to underline once again that the closure of the US bases and the return of US troops to their homeland is most important to significantly curb military violence against women in the region.

The Philippines, Japan and Korea have kept long lists of violence committed by US troops most especially against women. These include abduction, rape, sexual assault, and even gruesome homicide and murder. Some of these cases hogged front pages of papers worldwide including the rape of a 67- year old woman in Korea in 2007, the rape of a 12-year old girl in Japan by three soldiers in 1995, Nicole's case and the massacre in Maimbung, Sulu, among the eight victims of which were two children and a pregnant woman.

But not often listed as violence against women is the trafficking of women to cater to US soldiers "on liberty" or even during breaks from training. Before the banning of entertainers' entry by the Japanese government, more than 7,000 Filipinas were trafficked to Okinawa to serve in sleazy bars around the military camps. Korean bars around US bases have also become the destination of trafficked women from the Philippines, some of whom were rescued or escaped with help from KAISA KA.

And in the Philippines, every time a US vessel arrives in Subic for training or port visits, agents go even to the remotest areas of Central Luzon to traffic young girls. No wonder, while before the VFA, women in prostitution in Subic were only around 1,000, now the number rose to around 4,000. A member of an organization of survivors of trafficking and prostitution, majority of which were prostituted during the old bases, aptly said, "The VFA is increasing our membership."

It is unfortunate that both the US and the Philippine government try to downplay if not to cover-up cases of sexual assault committed by US soldiers.A clear example was the case of several US soldiers who verbally abused a singer on stage and even tried to grab her to take her to their barracks in July last year during the anniversary celebration of the Philippine Marines in Basilan. The Philippine Marines downplayed it by saying it was a simple case of drunken soldiers and that the case was properly addressed by the US military.

While the Aquino administration and the US government have been very quiet on the so-called review of the VFA these past months, KAISA KA reiterates its call on the present administration to terminate the VFA as it supports the struggle of the Japanese people against US military presence. "Reforming" the VFA by merely altering the provision on criminal jurisdiction is not the solution. The SOVFAS and SOFAS precisely exist for their troops protection, undermining national sovereignty of nations.

 http://www.kaisaka.org/

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International Women's Day, March 8

Statement of the Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Laboring Masses - PLM)

Win the fight for the passage of the RH Bill and continue the struggle for genuine gender equality, economic and social justice!

It's been 100 years since the first International Women's Day march in 1911. While women have won the right to certain political freedoms such as the right to vote and political representation, we are still struggling for genuine and substantive gender equality - which means economic equality and social justice.

Poverty today has a woman's face: 6 out of every 10 poor people are women and in the Philippines the number of poor people and poor women has grown in the last two decades. The system of elite rule in the country is preventing women from accessing economic and social resources, rights, and justice.

We know that around 11 Filipino women die everyday due to preventable childbirth-related complications. These are primarily poor women. It is estimated that about 40 percent of pregnant women are anemic, with even higher levels of 50 percent and over in some provinces in Mindanao. The diet of pregnant women is grossly inadequate, increasing the risk of both maternal mortality and the delivery of low-birth weight infants, who are also at risk of dying within their first years or of becoming undernourished in their pre-school years.

Women continue to struggle against unemployment, with only 50% of all eligible women working (compared to 80% for men). As a result the number of Filipino women pushed to work overseas has been increasing because of lack of decent jobs in the country. In 2009, 71,000 Filipino women left the country to work as domestic helpers; they made up 21 percent of the newly-hired in the top 10 job categories abroad.

However, the average cash remittances of women is only 60 percent that of men. This is indicative of the status of women OFWs in lesser skilled and unprotected lower paying jobs, which are also vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking and abuse.

The trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation and forced labor has increased. Between 60,000 to 100,000 children and over 100,000 women are trafficked (internally and externally) annually. And although the number of cases filed for investigation by the Department of Justice has increased, there is no justice for these women victims. There have been only eight convictions of traffickers since 2003.

Media reports now also expose the fact that women OFWs are being used as drug couriers or mules by unscrupulous and extremely powerful criminal syndicates. These desperate women are also victims of corrupt law enforcement agencies who turn a blind eye to women being trafficked past airport and other security personnel.

Filipino women are facing increasing violence committed by government security forces, as seen in the recent cases involving a woman vendor that was raped by a police officer in a police station, of a child victim of sexual abuse and trafficking whose abuser the police chose to protect, and of women activists who continue to be threatened by the police for their political activities.

President Noynoy has pledged that his administration will fight corruption and alleviate poverty and that he supports women's rights. But actions speak louder than words and so far there has been very little concrete action to follow through the government's rhetoric.

On the contrary we have witnessed a great deal of backtracking on the president's commitments, as seen by his back-tracking on the Reproductive Health Bill. Although he made a verbal commitment to support the bill, he didn't include it in the priority legislative agenda of his government. The Noynoy government's economic policies based on Public-Private-Partnerships or PPP, instead of contributing to poverty reduction and job creation, will only deepen privatization of more public utilities and services, deregulation and contractualization and thus, increase women's poverty.

Women are tired of waiting. We have been patient and have waited long enough. We are also unimpressed by sweet-talking presidents. We want results that move us forward towards genuine gender equality, economic and social justice, and we want them now.

We demand action, not words. We demand a program with measures that will redistribute wealth towards poor women and their families and communities.

Pass the RH Bill now! Increase funding for health services, especially reproductive health services!

Immediate moratorium on lay-offs! No to neoliberal economic policies, no to the public-private partnership policy! Stop contractualization and privatization! A national public sector investment program for job creation in the Philippines! Provide all returning OFWs from the Middle East with employment in the Philippines!

Repeal the automatic debt appropriation law! Increase funding for social services, especially health and education! Recognize housework as productive work with appropriate monetary compensation!

Launch a nationwide campaign and education program against violence against women! No to the Visiting Forces Agreement!

Win the fight for the passage of the RH Bill! Continue the struggle for genuine gender equality - for our economic and social justice! Continue the struggle for our emancipation from elite rule!

 http://www.masa.ph/

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Big push for Reproductive Health on Women's Day led by Workers Party and RHAN

by Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party - Philippines)

Women members of the Partido ng Manggagawa together with various women's groups from the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) held a march with around six thousand women to celebrate the 100th year of International Women's Day by highlighting their support for the RH bill.

With the theme "Marching for RH, Marching for Life!," Partido ng Manggagawa and RHAN assembled at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) along Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City at 1:00 in the afternoon. At 1:30 pm the group marched from the CHR to the House of Representatives, with other women's groups that gathered in front of St. Peter's Parish near the Sandiganbayan. A cultural and solidarity program was held at the South Wing gate of the HOR while sponsorship speeches and interpellations were going on. Simultaneously, a contingent from PM and RHAN attended the session at the Senate of the Philippines to support counterpart bill still pending at the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.

"This is a very important occasion for poor and working women suffering the brunt of the absence of a comprehensive reproductive health care program in the country. We are happy that the House of Representatives heard our clamour to immediately start the sponsorship speeches and plenary debate on the RH bill. Totoong urgent ang issues ng pagkamatay ng 11 kababaihan araw-araw, gayon din, ang pagdami ng kabataang kababaihang nabubuntis, 7 out of 10 pregnancies are that of teens," explained PM Secretary General Judy Ann Chan-Miranda.

"On the occasion of the International Women's Day, we also raise other issues specifically beneficial to poor and working women such as the absence of a socialized housing program, the passage of a law on security of tenure, a legislated across-the-board increase in wages, and protection for frontline service workers against indignities and harassment. Women, especially poor women, are not only doubly but multiply-burdened and greatly suffer from the lack if not the absence of income, high prices of basic commodities, electricity and water, among others," added Miranda.

In the morning of Women's Day, PM joined the Martsa ng Kababaihan which highlighted other issues that burden women such as employment and livelihood, violence against women and children, etc. Women participants marched from Blumentritt to Mendiola.

 http://www.partidongmanggagawa2001.blogspot.com/

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Women's Day: 11 more women will die today

By Likhaan (Center for Womens Health Inc)

A hundred years after the first International Women's Day, Filipinas still do not have power over events only women face—risks to life and health in pregnancy and childbirth.

Eleven women die each day from maternal complications. Most do not even want to get pregnant; those who do certainly have no wish to die while giving life.

Contraception can stop the deaths of women who have unplanned pregnancies. Women who do want a child can be saved through skilled attendance at birth by midwives, doctors or nurses; and prompt action during complications by health facilities with emergency obstetric care. Young women can protect themselves from sexual coercion and abuse and early pregnancies through accurate and positive sexuality education integrated in the formal school system. All of these measures are key parts of the reproductive health (RH) bill which, after ten years, is still stuck in Congress, obstructed by religious arguments raised by religious forces.

If those who have power routinely die from pregnancy and childbirth, would debates over a legislative policy last a decade? Would there even be reasons for debates?

"The State condemns discrimination against women in all its forms," proclaims the Magna Carta of Women. This law says that discrimination occurs if "women, more than men, are shown to have suffered the greater adverse effects" of measures or practices.

Obstructing RH services and letting 11 women die each day is discrimination pushed to the extreme. That 90 or so bishops of the CBCP [Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines] have louder voices than four million women users of contraception and millions more who lack RH services emphasize the gross injustice of it all—a few powerful ultraconservative men imposing their religious beliefs on all women.

In its lengthy pastoral letter on RH, the CBCP said that the "proposed bill in all its versions calls us to make a moral choice: to choose life or to choose death." Completely oblivious of the real life-and-death situation women face during each pregnancy and childbirth, not a word was mentioned about deaths from maternal complications.

Reproduction and the moral choices that women make are things that bishops will never experience. Daily and routinely, women balance the risks, the joys and hopes of having a child, and the realities of being responsible for another human life. The bishops' insistence on the moral superiority of their beliefs based on their claim that they can "rightly guide" women's conscience on reproductive matters reeks of nothing but male arrogance.

March 8 is Women's Day. Sadly, 11 more women will die today, not because we lack the resources, knowledge or means to save them, but mainly because those in power have not yet deemed women's lives as important enough to save.

We have had enough. We affirm the morality of choices women make over their reproductive lives. We condemn the tyranny and discrimination that CBCP and its allies wish to impose on women, and we hold them responsible for the 11 women who die each day.

 http://www.likhaan.org/