NEW YORK, NY—On Wednesday, Filipino women of grassroots organization Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), under the banner of GABRIELA USA, a member organization of the newly formed International Women’s Alliance (IWA), joined a mass rally and march to Zucotti Park, the site of the 3-week-long Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York City. The rally and march, organized by community organizations and labor unions, drew in thousands of participants and has been the largest demonstration since the launch of Occupy Wall Street. The rally commenced at Foley Square where more than fifteen public sector organizations and unions, including the United Federation of Teachers, United Auto Workers, and Transit Workers’ Union, gathered with other community and labor leaders to protest against income inequalities and poor public education in New York City.
FiRE marched with fellow BAYAN USA Northeast member organizations, Anakbayan New York, Anakbayan New Jersey, and the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, as well as with member organizations of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON). This Filipino contingent joined the “New York Communities Contingent” which included People’s Justice, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, Picture the Homeless, and FIERCE. FiRE members chanted “The banks got bailed out. We got sold out,” carrying signs reading “No to Imperialist Globalization. End U.S. Economic Intervention.”
Malou Logan of GABRIELA Australia, which is also a member organization of the International Women’s Alliance, is visiting New York City and joined the march. Of the march she stated, “I joined the march in New York as an expression of my support, and to represent the voice of the Filipino women of GABRIELA Australia and MIGRANTE Australia. Wall Street is the financial capital of the world, the epitome of corporate greed that sucks all the profits labored by the immigrants and citizens of third world countries. We as immigrants in the U.S. and in Australia are forced to leave the Philippines to look for decent jobs for our families and the women workers bear the brunt of the financial crisis.”
Monica Moorehead, an organizer with the Women’s Fightback Network, and a steering committee member of the International Women’s Alliance says, “The Occupy Wall Street actions amount to a growing mass rebellion against the global capitalist economic crisis which has already devastated the lives of millions of people, especially women, and promises to destroy the future of the youth. This radicalization of youth must continue to open up political space for the workers, who are losing their jobs, their homes, their health care and their pensions, and the most oppressed, who face political repression in the form of police brutality, cutbacks in social services, and the prison industrial complex. The Occupy Wall Street actions must be wholeheartedly supported and continue to flourish throughout the globe until ‘Occupy the World’ becomes a reality, not just a slogan. This dynamic movement inside the U.S. has been inspired by righteous occupations in Egypt, Tunisia, Greece, Spain and Wisconsin–many of them led by women.”
Irma Bajar, Chairperson of FiRE-GABRIELA USA, stated, “Women in the U.S. and all over the world have been fighting against capitalist exploitation, patriarchy, and multiple intersecting oppressions and discrimination. The enemy is this unfair capitalist system and imperialism. People across various immigrant communities and people of color have been standing in solidarity with Occupy Wall St. because people are fed up with the injustices and unfair systems.” Bajar continues, “As a Filipino American woman, I can connect the reasons why my mother had to leave the Philippines to the Occupy Wall Street struggle because of the economic conditions and joblessness there. Women are forced out of the country and legally trafficked by the Labor Export Policy that benefits imperialist countries like the United States and big corporations like Dole and Nestle.”
The International Women’s Assembly (IWA) successfully held its First General Assembly on July 5 and 6, 2011 in Quezon City, Philippines under the theme, “Advance the Global Anti-imperialist Women’s Movement! Strengthen the International Women’s Alliance!” FiRE-GABRIELA USA urges other anti-imperialist organizations to join us in fighting against capitalism and imperialism from the level of grassroots organizing expanding to global networks. Class consciousness becomes the basis for women to fight for economic equity, political rights, freedom of association, and to oppose colonial and imperialist wars.