On International Working Women’s Day
Statement of Migrante Canada
March 8, 2022
Immigrant women are at the forefront of the women’s movement in Canada. Their voices reverberate among the marginalized, demanding equality, rights and benefits as workers in Canada, better protection, and services for women.
Immigrant women comprise some 30% of all the women in Canada. Many of them come through the federal family reunification program and economic pathways. Many women workers endure family separation, labour exploitation, abuse, and on top of it, many layers of Canada’s discriminatory, difficult, and often changing immigration policies.
In Canada, many women of colour are impoverished. Statistics Canada places the prevalence of low income for immigrant women at 31.4%, while racialized females and girls at 21%. These vulnerable sectors are likely to face homelessness.
The Philippines remains one of the top source countries for foreign workers in Canada, including skilled care workers. This forced migration from the Philippines is unlikely to abate given the deterioration of social services, lack of jobs, and absence of government support, more so during the pandemic in the Philippines. The feminization of this forced migration is reflected in women making up over 60% of the more than 6,000 Filipinos who leave the Philippines every day for jobs abroad.
As the progressive alliance of Filipinos in Canada, Migrante Canada marks this day most especially to highlight the struggles and gains of Filipino migrant women. We remember Flor Contemplacion, domestic worker in Singapore, whose death angered thousands of Filipinos and inspired the launching of Migrante International and of Juana Tejada, caregiver in Toronto who fought to get justice right up to her death, and scored the victory of the exemption for caregivers from the medical exam when applying for their permanent residency. We remember Mary Jane Veloso who is still on death row in Malaysia and the strong global support of women to stop her execution by firing squad, and we raise the continuing campaign to free Mary Jane and bring her home. We cannot forget the global collective action of Filipino women and men migrant workers who struck back against the Philippine government's proposed mandatory PhilHealth membership and increased premium scams forcing the Duterte government to step back nor can we forget Filipino women and men migrant workers who raised their united voices worldwide to draw attention to the criminal neglect and abandonment of stranded, sick, and unemployed migrant workers under this pandemic.
As migrant women in our strong overseas organizations, we celebrate March 8 as a day of collective commitment and action to continue organizing, educating, and mobilizing in the broad movement of patriotic and democratic forces to ensure that the Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte tandem (and their families and cronies) are defeated and stopped from coming back into power. It is in this context that the migrant women of Migrante Canada support the Leni Robredo and Kiko Pangilinan tandem in the collective spirit of working together to defeat tyranny and advancing democracy. We forward the 10-point Filipino Migrants’ Program which is the heart and soul of the Filipino migrants’ issues and demands.
Meanwhile in Canada, the fight intensifies for full and permanent status for the 1.6 million-strong racialized working class and over 500,000 undocumented migrants. The economic crisis, marked by ballooning inflation on basic commodities and widespread joblessness, fuels anti-immigrant sentiments, and many immigrant women become targets of racial violence. More and more people of colour, mostly women, are driven into uncertainty and precariousness.
As the restrictions from COVID-19 loosen, it is also high time for migrant women and migrant advocates to break systemic barriers, demand full and permanent status for all, and to fight for the social, political and economic rights of immigrant and migrant women. Migrante Canada unites with working-class women, immigrants and supporters in this collective fight.
Immigrant and migrant women are in the forefront of the women's movement in Canada!