70 percent of laid-off workers women — Gabriela

Published by rudy Date posted on February 1, 2009

The militant center for women, Gabriela National Alliance of Women expressed concern about the rising unemployment rate among women, saying 70 percent of the laid-off workers are women in their productive years.

In a statement, Emmie de Jesus, Gabriela’s secretary general, said that based on Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) 2005 data, 75 to 80 percent of workers in the export processing zones (EPZs) are women.

Late last year, some of the companies inside EPZs expressed their plans of either shutting down or downsizing their workforce in order to cope with the economic crisis.

With lower exports, according to De Jesus, some semiconductor and textile or clothing companies are shutting down, with women as casualties.

“Data from the Department of Labor and Employment show that in Region IV alone, a total of 10,344 workers in Calabarzon were displaced from October 2008 to Jan. 19, 2009. This is extremely alarming for the already handful of Filipino women in formal employment,” said De Jesus.

“We can only imagine how anxious the remaining Peza workers with neighboring factories closing down one after another,” she furthered.

It is not only the women working in the formal sector who are affected by the economic crisis, but those in the informal sector as well, added De Jesus.

She explained that with the massive loss of jobs, less and less households can afford to hire house helpers or avail of services of laundrywomen or other odd jobs women take on to cope, thus the situation of joblessness among women further aggravates.

“With this kind of situation, women are becoming more vulnerable to sexual exploitation,” says De Jesus.

Studies done by the Center for Women’s Resources, a research institute for women, found that women workers desperate to keep their jobs tend to overlook, tolerate and even accept sexual advances of superiors or employers.

“Furthermore, crises always mean a boom for the illegal sex trade with the influx of women desperate for livelihood. For example, in Taiwan alone there are more than a thousand OFWs who lost their jobs and 90 per cent of them are women. With the Philippine government encouraging these workers to stay put in Taiwan for possible future employment, it is not unlikely that some of them will fall prey to sex trade,” she further explained.

Moreover, the current devastation in the lives of the Filipino working class women is the undoing of the Arroyo government. No amount of so-called relief packages can mollify the impact of global financial crisis. The only way out is for comprehensive social change starting by extricating our economy from the stranglehold of trade liberalization impositions, she ended. Pat C. Santos

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