fdc march 8 2013Over the years, International Women's Day has taken on a festive character, a contrast to its beginnings more than 100 years ago when women workers, facing terrible labor conditions took to the streets demanding better treatment.

Many of the rights we enjoy today are the fruits of those early years of difficult struggles, and yearly, on March 8, we pay tribute to our sisters who were detained, beaten, deprived of their basic freedoms, in their determination and belief that women can enjoy a better quality of life, free from violence and discrimination.

The Philippines leads in women-friendly laws and policies but we know and always stress that these need to go far and wide in enforcement and implementation to be enjoyed, especially by grassroots working women.

Consider the number of employed and unemployed Filipinos. Female employment was estimated at 14.2 million compared with 22.3 million males (as of 2010); the gender gap is more than 8 million. This has been the trend for many years, indicating that discrimination in employment opportunities and hiring are still very much around, despite our the Philippine government's avowed commitment to implement international human rights treaties and despite the passage of the Magna Carta of Women.

Consider that not all employed women enjoyed the fruits of their labor. Some 2.4 million women, as compared to 1.8 million men, worked without pay as family workers in their family-operated farms or businesses.

Consider also that women – whether employed or unemployed – do unpaid work from morning till night, in fulfilling expectations of caring for their spouses, nurturing children, doing the laundry, cleaning the house and attending to other household concerns. Truly, the great majority of women are working women.

It is no surprise that in these difficult times of widening and deepening poverty, the incidence of Violence Against Women (VAW) persists, and is even on a rising trend. A well-known fact is that the inability of women to fully enjoy their socio-economic rights deepens their existing marginalization in society and continues to expose them as targets of VAW. These include their rights to decent work, reproductive health, education and training, affordable and adequate access to water and electricity or energy needs. Big business exploits these conditions, hiring women for their lower wages as compared to men.

Achieving women's economic empowerment – the full enjoyment of our economic rights, without fear and discrimination – is one of the important ways to end VAW. Let today, International Women's Day, strengthen and inspire us to make this an everyday reality, a reason to celebrate the victories of working women everywhere.

Defend and fulfill women's economic rights!
Fight for women's economic empowerment!
End VAW now!


  • One in five women aged 15-49 has experienced physical violence since age 15; 14.4 percent of married women have experienced physical abuse from their husbands
  • More than one-third (37%) of separated or widowed women have experienced physical violence
  • Reported cases under RA 9262 continue to increase from 218 in 2004 to 9,021 cases in 2011.

*Source: National Demographic and Health Survey