In commemoration of the International Women’s Day on March 8 in the midst of COVID 19 pandemic, massive vaccination roll-out, and maintenance of health and safety protocols, the Associated Labor Unions (ALU), and global union Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) called out, “COVID 19 and economic recovery should come with gender equality!”
Women from different sectors have greatly contributed to the economy prior to and during pandemic to continue providing essential public goods and services despite the health risks and constraints. Women largely comprise the frontliners fighting the pandemic, addressing the safety and health needs of the people. However, ALU National Executive Vice President Gerard Seno sadly recognizes that the pandemic claimed many lives, sown grief among families, closed businesses, induced job losses, reduced incomes, and increased incidence of gender-based violence.
ALU National Vice President and Women’s Committee Chair Eva Arcos asserts, ” the International Women’s Day is not just a celebration of women and their triumphs in the exercise of their role in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. It remains to be a day of protest as it is about the living history of struggle from systemic
women subordination and domination, misogyny, and the continuing action to reclaim women’s fundamental right to dignity, equality and inherent power as change-makers in society.”
Laya Ferrer, a young worker says, “Our call for equality should go beyond Women’s Day or Month. Although this pandemic drove us to be flexible and innovative at work and be resilient in life, there are young women who became vulnerable to exploitation just to earn or survive. That is why, implementation of laws that protect young women is essential.”
Arcos expressed alarm, “The pandemic and restrictions have made violence more digital, highlighted abuse of women in intimate relations or harassment in the world of work, minimalized women’s capacities, and sidelined their critical participation in governance. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the long list of the government’s 2021 priority agenda that directly tackles these concerns.”
The ALU and BWI continue to accept the challenge to change the circumstances of Filipino workers here and abroad. This year, their priority calls include: full employment, occupational safety and health, achievement of gender equality, end of violence and harassment in the world of work, and government’s ratification of ILO Convention 190 that consolidates the intents and interventions of existing Philippine legislation and that addresses their gaps and challenges.
The labor unions stress the importance of the roles of the government, employers, employees, social institutions, media and the public in addressing the said concerns and issues.