We are Filipino migrant and immigrant women in Canada celebrating March 8th together with our sisters all over the world. We are Filipino caregivers, migrant workers, health workers, teachers, service workers, organizers and more. We are mothers, grandmothers, wives, sisters, and daughters.
Driven out by a labour export policy, poverty and unemployment in the Philippines, we endure separation from our families and homes, suffer through loneliness and isolation. But we also learn to organize and fight for our rights and welfare. In our community, we especially remember Juana Tejada, the caregiver from Toronto. It was because of her that the “Juana Tejada Law” was made which removed the need for a second medical exam for the caregivers applying for landed status. We also have Herminia Vergara, the migrant worker at the Denny’s Restaurant, who stood up to represent her co-workers in the $10 Million lawsuit against the Denny’s Restaurant.
As Filipino immigrant women, we refuse to have society define us by what we do, because that is not who we are. We push strollers, we serve coffee, we nurse the sick and we care for the elderly – yes– but that is not the sum of who we are. We are workers and we are activists.
We demand decent wages, better working conditions and workers’ benefits. We march in the streets, rally in places like the Art Gallery, and we educate ourselves in our rights and responsibilities as migrants and as workers. We organize! We take our place in the midst of the struggle for migrant rights, for justice, for peace.
As women, we also resist war, intervention and occupation – not only in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine but also in the Philippines. As sisters, we know that it is the women and the children who are the main casualties of any war or occupation. In the protest and resistance movements that have rocked the world, the women have showed how necessary and indispensable our role is in the struggle.
This March 8, the International Women’s Day, let us celebrate 101 years of women’s struggles and resistance. Let us continue to assert women’s role in the fight for rights, justice, freedom and peace. Let us continue to be the fire of inspiration for all the exploited people of the world.
Let us reaffirm our commitment to the struggle for national and social liberation and women’s emancipation.
Long Live the Working Women! Domestic Work is Work!
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