For Immediate Release
March 8, 2009
Reference: Joanne Alcantara, GABRIELA USA National Coordinator, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

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. Today’s economic crisis; coupled with the rise of U.S. unemployment, underemployment, and international xenophobia; has a severe impact on Filipino families in the United States and abroad, but especially on Filipina women who are a majority of that exported labor force.

Since 1984, GABRIELA has operated as the broad-based women’s alliance which addresses the concerns of women in the Philippines, prompted by the Martial Law era. Today, GABRIELA’s work has expanded internationally due to the increasing number of women who leave the Philippines in order to find work abroad through the country’s Labor Export Program. To ensure the needs of Filipinas are addressed in the United States, the country with the largest overseas Filipino population, a working alliance between Pinay sa Seattle, Babae (San Francisco) and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (New York) was formed. These Filipino women in the United States have worked during the past four years to build the foundation for GABRIELA-USA, which maintains the issues of economic and social violence Filipinas experience globally at the forefront of their campaigns. By educating, organizing, and mobilizing Filipina women in the U.S., these women’s organizations critically address the economic crisis, militarization and violence that affect their communities.

In light of the ongoing economic, political and physical violations that Filipino women face at the hands of the Philippine and US governments, there continues to be a need for Filipinas to rise up, resist, and demand that their basic human needs and human rights be honored. GABRIELA-USA invites the public to celebrate International Working Women’s Day and Women’s History Month by attending the following events.

SEATTLE: ”Women’s Struggles and Successes: Eyes on the Global Economic Crisis from Seattle, Palestine to the Philippines”
SUNDAY March 8, Event will include performances and women’s updates. at 1pm
Hidmo Eritrean Cuisine at 2000 S Jackson St., Seattle, WA. Co-sponsored by Asian Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center, Communities Against Rape and Abuse, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and Anakbayan Seattle

NEW YORK: 
”International Working Women’s Day, Uphold the legacy of women’s resistance!”
SUNDAY March 8, Rally at 1 pm at Union Square 14th & Broadway in Manhattan, NYC. In collaboration with the citywide women’s coalition, Women’s Fight Back Network.

SAN FRANCISCO: “Conference on Gender and Resistance in the Age of Empire: From Gaza to Oakland”
THURSDAY March 12 at 11am at SFSU – 1600 Holloway Ave. San Francisco, CA. Co-sponsored by San Francisco State University’s Women’s Center and the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED)

LOS ANGELES: “Get Up, Stand Up! For Human Rights in the Philippines”
SUNDAY March 8, Silent auction fundraiser/exhibit at 4pm at Tribal Café, 1651 W. Temple St., Los Angeles. Co sponsored by BAYAN USA, Southern California.

“Sulong GABRIELA: Celebrating the Advances of the Filipino Women’s Struggle! Twenty Five Years and Onward!”
SATURDAY, March 28th – Cultural Night 7-11pm

For more information contact gabrielawomen@gmail.com. GABRIELA-USA, consists of Babae in San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) in New York. We continue to demand the removal of all U.S. troops from the Philippines and the abrogation of the VFA! Halt all military aid to the Philippines!