GABRIELA pickets APEC forum on women, demands land and jobs, not micro-financing, for empowerment

September 16, 2015

By Gabriela

On the first day of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2015 Women and the Economy Forum, members of the women’s organization GABRIELA held a picket in front of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) to slam the APEC’s neoliberal economic agenda which has brought further poverty and economic disempowerment especially among women of underdeveloped economies like the Philippines.

A Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) meeting today opened the formal events of the APEC Women and the Economy Forum, which will culminate in the adoption of a set of policy recommendations on women during the High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy on September 18. Said statement is expected to be included in the APEC 2015 declaration to be adopted by heads of state during the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in November.

GABRIELA criticized the APEC and PPWE’s framework for women’s economic empowerment, which is founded on 5 key pillars, namely access to capital, access to market, skills and capacity-building, women’s leadership and agency, and innovation and technology, as a path to achieving close to nothing in terms of eradicating women’s burdens and improving their economic situation.

“Women’s economic empowerment cannot be truly addressed without focusing on basic economic fundamentals like land reform and job security through national industries. What they will be discussing would only be mere band-aid solutions for poverty alleviation targeting women like the Conditional Cash Transfer,” said Joms Salvador, Secretary General of GABRIELA.

Salvador said that 7 years of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the Philippine version of the CCT, has not brought significant change to the economic conditions of women. Poverty incidence among women registered a very slight decrease from 25.9% in 2009 to 25.6% in 2012, while budget for the program increased from PhP 10 billion in 2010 to PhP 26 billion in 2015. “If these programs are what they mean by access to capital, then this cannot lead to economic empowerment,” she said.

Salvador revealed that during the recent budget hearing of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) lump sum amounts of PhP 3,373,271,000 for Micro-enterprise Development and PhP 6, 236,132,000 for Employment Facilitation was allotted for so-called graduates of the 4Ps program with 170,470 and 208,352 family-beneficiaries, respectively. “Like the CCT, these forms of dole-outs can again be a source of corruption and in the end beneficiaries will remain impoverished and disempowered,” Salvador added.

Salvador added that the APEC Forum’s policy direction that will be adopted in November will likely only further erode the economic status of women. “Neoliberal policies will be implemented at full speed – agriculture and trade will be further liberalized, remaining public services will be privatized and the government will further renege on its responsibility to the people, and private and foreign business interests will thus be favored over public interest. All these are in the guise of economic integration in Asia Pacific. Anong laban ng mga mahihirap na bansa gaya ng Pilipinas sa mga bansang gaya ng US, Japan, Korea at kahit ng Singapore? As the economic situation of the country worsens, so will women’s economic empowerment be non-existent.”

GABRIELA is set to join other sectors in various protests in line with the November APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in Manila. ###

Reference: Joms Salvador, Secretary General (09189182150); Public Info Desk (3712302)