March 8, 2012 is a historic day. It marks the 101st celebration of the International Women’s Day when over a million men and women stood valiantly and fought for the right to suffrage of women, demanded humane working conditions for all and struggled to end gender discrimination.
These men and women had all been gone by now, but the ideals they implanted on the annals of history continue to inspire today’s movements of women fighting for equality of rights, justice, freedom, peace and genuine national and social liberation. The courage and fervor they had shown to uplift the lot of women around the world lingers on.
In the current era of globalization and imperialism, women get the hardest blow. Their struggles are deeply embedded in societies where the rights of women are constantly threatened, if not totally subjugated and violated inside and outside of the home. Their bondage is deeply rooted in the milieu of societies where they are in and where the chains of patriarchy and fundamentalism still exists.
Women migrants, like many of us here, have no escape. Like migrants from other nationalities (MONs) we are violated against thrice over: as migrants, as women and as citizens coming from a poorer country. Our marginalization is further aggravated by state policies that reduce us into virtual commodities for sale. We are locked up in a quagmire in which only our collective efforts could free us.
Our celebration today is even more significant because it is hovered by memories of the March 11 tragedies that took away lives of many of our women – mothers, sisters, and daughters. The trauma and cries for justice of all the victims and survivors continue because in the face of these tragedies coming one after the other, the Japanese government has refused to acknowledge its responsibilities.
Worse, it has tricked people to blindly accept the laws of nature as the culprit for all their sufferings while saving its face and the monopoly capitalists’ whose unbridled exploitation of our people and environment caused these unprecedented disasters. Proof of this is Japan’s adamant position on the Fukushima nuclear crisis which we all shall have to bear for many years to come.
Thus, our coming together is not only to celebrate the advances won by women’s movements the world over in the struggle for emancipation and genuine social change; nor to merely recognize the need to continue the militant tradition to end all forms of gender-based violence, oppression, exploitation and discrimination. We are also here to honor the survivors and the more than 20,000 lives that perished in the March 11 tragedies. We dedicate our struggle to them and to the thousands of other women around the world who had shed their lives for the struggle.
At this point, may we call on everyone to please rise, and together, let us offer a minute of silence for the victims and survivors of the March 11 tragedies and to our fallen mothers, sisters and daughters in struggle.
(A minute of silence.)
As women migrants in Japan, we are inspired by the militant tradition started by our courageous sisters in struggle 101 years ago. And as we continue to fight to end our own oppression and exploitation and the continued commodification of our labor, we shall be part of this militant tradition that seeks to unshackle the chains of women oppression and exploitation in all our societies.
End the commodification of women and migrant labor around the world!
End violence and discrimination against women!
Save the environment, save humanity!
No to nuclear power plants!
Fight for equality of rights, justice and peace!
Struggle for genuine national and social liberation and women’s emancipation!
Long live international solidarity!
March 10, 2012