Women’s resistance to state attacks highlighted in online forum

'SUKOL DAY'. On International Women Human Rights Defenders' Day, women's advocates from different sectors convene to discuss the plight of women in the Philippines. Photo taken from Liyang Network

Women from different sectors gathered to discuss different strategies, strengths, and victories of women resistance efforts during an online forum hosted by Liyang Network titled “Sukol Day!: Women Advancing the Struggle Against Fascism and Development Aggression” last November 28 via zoom and Facebook Live.

Topics such as agrarian reform, environmental justice, and indigenous people’s rights, were tackled in the forum.

The forum was held in order to uplift the works of grassroots women and LGBTQI movements against state attacks and environmental plunder.

Cathay Estavillo, Amihan Federation of Peasant Women representative, talked about how women in the Philippines are advancing the call for agrarian reform, food sovereignty, and women’s rights, saying “landlessness remains the fundamental problem of the peasantry including the peasant women.”

“A handful of landlords and agri corporations monopolize our agricultural land,” Estavillo said.

She also said that with the government’s call for charter change, food security will be threatened due to the continuous cases of land grabbing.

Part of defending peasant women’s rights, the ‘Bungkalan’ Campaign was started wherein collective farming was introduced to the peasant women. The campaign aimed to make use of idle land in their community to be planted with vegetables and food crops. Such method was also the reason why farmers were able to sustain their families during the quarantine as mentioned in a report.

Lorena Mandacawan, a Lumad grassroots leader who was unable to come, sent a video presentation condemning mining in mountain areas saying that mining would not only destroy the environment but would also harm the people living in the mountains.

Mandacawan said that she does not want the things happening in Luzon, such as floods and landslides to happen to Mindanao.

“Women are the forefront in defending ancestral lands,” Mandacawan said.

Dr. Jean Lindo, Gabriela-Souther Mindanao Region representative, also highlighted the importance of women in terms of fighting for human rights, saying that “women are essential to people’s struggle.”

“Women persist by being united, and supportive of each other,” Lindo said.

Despite the numerous cases of red tagging Gabriela has experienced, Lindo said they are still continuing to fight for their rights.

Lindo cited the case of actress Liza Soberano, who was red tagged by an army general after she appeared in one of the online forums of Gabriela discussing women’s rights.

“Sa military, wala ka ng maasahan diyan. Sexist talaga yan sila,” Lindo said.

“Women should remain steadfast because di dapat tayo magpatalo,” she added.

Liyang Network is an international group that aims to amplify the call of actions for human rights, environmental justice, and gender equality.

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