Press Statement
March 29, 2010

Raquel Redondiez, Chair of GABRIELA USA

GABRIELA USA Celebrates First Year Anniversary Launching National IVOW Campaign

Hosts Gabriela Women’s Partylist Nominee, Emmi De Jesus in New York

New York, NY—One year ago, four organizations: BABAE San Francisco, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) New York, Pinay Sa Seattle and Sisters of Gabriela Awaken (SiGAw) Los Angeles came together to establish an overseas chapter of GABRIELA Philippines—the largest progressive women’s alliance in the Philippines. With the depreciating conditions of the Philippine economy and neoliberal political leadership under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, migrants, largely women, have been exiting the Philippines at an alarming rate. This is the impetus for establishing progressive women’s organizing outside of the Philippines. GABRIELA USA was a landmark formation that reflected the quickly changing conditions of the Filipino people with a stern and militant resistance from Filipino women in the diaspora.

One of the major efforts of GABRIELA USA this year was to launch the national IVOW campaign- a comprehensive campaign that addresses violence against women (VAW) as issues of sex trafficking and prostitution, domestic violence, rape, incest, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and exploitation, limited access to reproductive health care, and violence as a result of political repression. The campaign, which launched in February 2010, urges people to take a stand and commit to ending violence against women. GABRIELA USA asserts that violence against women is becoming varied in its forms, inflicted by numerous perpetrators from intimate partners, family members to limited access to basic needs of the family and state violence. Under this banner, GABRIELA USA invites communities to acknowledge the inequalities in the lives of women and children as violence to then stand against the problems that are slowing women’s advancement.

In New York, FiRE has accumulated more than 700 signatures and photos of people from all nationalities, class backgrounds, genders and sexual orientations that have vowed to end VAW. FiRE members have traveled up and down the Eastern seaboard to educate Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike about VAW. This past year, FiRE has also strengthened their ties in supporting KABALIKAT Domestic Workers Support Network by organizing different cultural projects and a research project about the conditions of Filipino domestics in NYC. FiRE has seen an impressive growth in membership and will be looking towards building a strong and united Filipino sisterhood against imperialism and VAW.

In San Francisco, BABAE celebrated 5 years of political organizing and carried the iVOW campaign with fervor at their event. Along with college workshops, forums and conferences, they have enlisted several organizations including Kappa Psi Epsilon to the campaign and will continue to spread the word at the upcoming SF Walk Against Rape. BABAE members created, produced and performed their first full theater show that addressed issues of domestic violence, a culture of silence and family dynamics in the Filipino community. BABAE has increase 80% since the formation of GABRIELA USA and look towards building stronger ties to the LGBTQ community there.

Pinay sa Seattle launched the IVOW campaign on Februrary 19, 2010 with with a cultural show also titled IVOW that partnered with Cambodian and Japanese progressive organizations on the themes of violence against women. Audience members participated in the IVOW campaign by writing their vow to end violence against women. The show was a success with over 100 people in attendance and requests that the show be done again. For International Women’s Day, Pinay participated and helped plan a city-wide IWD march that was held on March 6 where women and community members marched with IVOW placards that addressed pressing issues affecting women and children.

Sisters of Gabriela, Awaken (SiGAw), the newest of the four GABRIELA USA member organizations, has also taken strides to expand the Filipino women’s movement in Los Angeles. In the past year, they launched their campaign through internally studying the VAW orientation and collecting photo vows of allies and members. They have conducted interviews with a handful of migrant and working class pinays about their migration experiences and VAW to understand the local manifestations of the campaign in their community. SiGAw has steadily held writing workshops, with help from Professors Lucy Burns and Michelle Cruz Skinner, as well as Melissa Roxas. Roxas is a FilAm activist who survived torture and abduction in the Philippines. SiGAw’s writing resulted in a cumulative show called Diwang Pinay. Its theme was focused on Filipinas migrations stories and their experiences of various forms of violence,  highlighting the violence committed against women in the Morong 43, a group of healthcare workers in the Philippines who are illegally arrested and detained.

GABRIELA USA’s next major efforts will be to organize and mobilize women organizations from different backgrounds and communities to attend the Montreal International Women’s Conference (MIWC) to confer about strategies and issues that can usher in a “Global Militant Women’s Movement in the 21st Century.” Also, GABRIELA USA will join the broad movement to pressure the Obama administration for comprehensive immigration reform with legalization for all.

The need for Filipino women’s organizing continues to be necessary with elections drawing near in the Philippines. Pre-election violence has already risen with the Maguindanao Massacre in Mindanao and continuing human rights violations. As the Philippines looks forward to the end of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s presidential term, Filipino women must come together to demand genuine leaders and government representation from the most oppressed classes. In this spirit, GABRIELA USA fully supports the upcoming candidates for the GABRIELA Women’s Partylist, including Emmi de Jesus and urges all migrants abroad with Philippine citizenship to vote for pro-people candidates.

With the economic crisis steadily worsening, GABRIELA USA commits to the ongoing struggles of Filipino women in the US, especially those who are bearing the brunt of unemployment, lack of access to social services, anti-immigrant policy and discrimination. GABRIELA USA looks forward to building solidarity with other women’s struggles and movements in the US and around the world, in hopes of unity between all working women. We vow to fight violence against women in its various forms. One year of women’s organizing in the US has taught us many lessons, one of which is the relentless punishment of capitalism and imperialism, which gives us strength to stand together to to expand and grow to challenge those problems.

Unite to Fight Violence Against Women!
Vote for GABRIELA Women’s Partylist!
End U.S. Imperialism Now!