Rural and Indigenous Women Speak Out Against Globalization

At the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development , held May 22-24, 1998 in Chiangmai, Thailand, women from throughout the region issued this Statement of Unity:

WE, the rural, indigenous and other women in this conference, come together to take a close and critical look at globalization and its effects on us, our families and our communities. We link arms and forge our sisterhood to resist the onslaught of the global market and foreign monopoly
capital not only on our living conditions but also on the political, social and cultural aspects of our lives.

WE are both saddened and angered as we hear stories about the:

- multiple role of women in sustaining the family and the community and contributing to the national and regional economies, yet the worsening unjust, inhuman and marginal treatment that they get in the supposedly "new economic order";

- further undermining of the rights of indigenous women to their ancestral resources -- land, water, forests and other livelihood sources -- due to logging concessions, mining operations and hydroelectric projects;

- large-scale, export-oriented agricultural production such as oil palm, cocoa, pineapple, cut flowers, teak trees, bananas, and trees for paper and pulp which threatens food sovereignty, worsens landlessness, intensifies impoverishment, further marginalizes and dislocates women, and degrades the environment;

- migration of rural and indigenous women who get heavily indebted, selling or mortgaging what little property' they have for job opportunities abroad, ending up with low wages and at times sexual and physical abuse, and having to deal with disrupted families, adverse effects on young children losing their mothers' care, family breakdowns, loneliness and cultural shock;

- increasing sexual abuse and other forms of violence against rural and indigenous women as they seek work away from their communities, take on roles not considered normal in their villages, are forced into prostitution because of dire poverty or victimized by sex traffickers, and become convenient target of physical abuse from husbands and fathers upset by the economic crisis;

- sacrifice of the agricultural sector to an export-driven industrialization strategy in so called NICs (Newly Industrialized Countries) where women are not acknowledged as independent producers nor managers of agricultural production; and where they are excluded from opportunities in farming education, subsidies for the purchase of farm machinery, financial support from and participation in agricultural cooperatives;

- destruction of rural self-reliant economy, inflation, high cost of production inputs and deterioration in social services resulting from the opening up to the global market and adoption of globalization policies and programs in Indochina and Central Asia;

- increasing resourcelessness and enslaving conditions of women particularly created through the new economic disorder that more than ever guarantees profits for the multinational and transnational corporations (MNCs/TNCs ) and their partners, the local ruling elite, while destroying nascent local manufacturing and trading due to unequal competition from imported goods;

- collusion between our governments and monopoly capitalists whereby laws and even constitutions are amended to institutionalize liberalization, deregulation and privatization; and where militarization is the state's response to people's discontent and protest; and

- globalization as a continuing colonization of less industrialized nations whose national barriers are being removed to render them wide open to economic control and plunder by the powerful nations and the MNCs/TNCs.

WE, therefore, reject the policies of trade, investments and import liberalization, of deregulation and privatization and the whole globalization scheme.

WE deplore their imposition on our countries by the global powers --U.S., Japan and the E.U. -- the MNCs/TNCs, and IMF/WB/WTO/APEC, which are all assisted and protected by the local ruling elite and governments of our countries who benefit financially and politically from the deal.

As globalization of the market economy wreak havoc on our lives, we will in turn globalize our resistance, in the spirit of internationalism and people's solidarity, against caste and class oppression, women's subordination, environmental degradation and destruction, human rights/women's rights violations, and the over-all exploitation and oppression of our people especially the rural and indigenous women.

WE will use all strategies -- organizing and mobilizing for self-determination, increasing visibility of issues, research, education, solidarity networking -- to effectively resist and eliminate unjust and unequal systems that exploit and oppress the rural poor and indigenous peoples, especially the women.

In particular, we make the following demands that require immediate action:

- the unconditional release of the Palong, Lahu, Lisu, impoverished lowland Thai and their visitors who were illegally arrested on March 26, 1998 in Pang Daeng on charges of encroachment and clearing of the Chiang Dao forests;

- a stop to the forced labor and sexual abuses perpetrated against the indigenous peoples, especially the Karen women, by the Burmese military regime (SLORC/SPDC) in the Burmese-Thai border; the harassment of refugees by the Thai military; and the massive forced relocation affecting over 300,000 villagers in the Central Shan State, Burma;

- recognition of the Ainus of Japan as a people and not as "former aborigines"; respect for their economic, political, social and cultural rights; and a stop to the commercialization of Ainu culture;

- immediate stop to all commercial logging operations in Ratanakiri, Cambodia until exclusion from commercial concessions of all customary forest areas in Ratanakiri and their management and control by the local communities are legally recognized; and consultation with the local people of Ratanakiri before any development of the hydroelectric project on the Sesan and Sri Pok rivers to ensure that there are no detrimental effects on the indigenous peoples; and

- a stop to the operation of mining TNCs in the Philippines; indemnification of individuals and communities affected by environmental disasters brought about by TNC mining operations; withdrawal of permits awarded for new mining explorations; and repeal of the 1995 Philippine Mining Act.

Signed on this day, May 25, 1998 in Chiangmai, Thailand by the participants of the Asian Rural and Indigenous Women's Conference Against Globalization convened by the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD).

l. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
Director, Tebtebba Foundation, Inc.
Founding Convenor, Asian Indigenous Women's Network (AIWN)
Chairperson, Board of Trustees, United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations

2. Virada Somswasdi
Regional Coordinator, APWLD

3. Elisa Tita Lubi
GABRIELA & BAYAN, Philippines
Steering Committee member, APWLD
Co-Convenor, Rural and Indigenous Women's Task Force, APWLD

4. Burnad Fatima N.
Society for Rural Education and Development (SRED), India
Convenor, Rural and Indigenous Women's Task Force, APWLD

5. Judy Taguiwalo
Women & Development Program, College of Social Work & Community Development, University of the Philippines
Regional Council Member, APWLD

6. Teo Sew Eng
Ideal Time, Malaysia

7. Govind Kelkar
Gender and Development Program, Asian Institute of Technology

8. Marilyn C. Cepe
BATAS (Center for People's Law), Philippines
NFR (NGOs for Fisheries Reform), Philippines

9. Anchalee Phonklieng
IMPECT, Thailand

10. Madhevi Kuckreja

11. Tiann Monie
Highland Peoples Programme/ Carere Ratanakiri, Cambodia

12. Ting Peap
Highland Peoples Programme/ Carere Ratanakiri, Cambodia

13. Paulraj Epsibai
Tamil Nadu Women's Forum, India

14. Michiyo Yoshida
Yay Yukar Park, Japan

15. Tomoko Keira
Yay Yukar Park, Japan

16. Geum-Soon Yoon
Korea Women Farmers' Association

17. Ji-Young Lee
Korea Ecological Youth

18. Ainura Madraimova
Forum of Women's NGOs of Kyrghyzstan, Kyrgyz Republic

19. Olga Djanaeva
Rural Women's Union, 'Alga', Kyrgyz Republic

20. Bouakham Khattignavong
World Education, Lao PDR

21. Viengxong Chitavong
Oxfam - Belgium, Laos

22. Niloh Anak Ason
Ideal Time, Malaysia

23. Mana Thapa Masar
Kamal Women Service Center, Nepal

24. Sandya Basnet-Bhatta
Service for Unprivileged Section of Society, Nepal

25. Sumika Perera
Women's Development Foundation, Sri Lanka

26. Cholada Montreevat
New Life Center, Chiang Mai, Thailand

27. Lee Ray Costa
Women's Studies Center, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University,

28. Phanomwan Yoodee
Chiangrai YMCA, Chiangrai Thailand

29. Judith P.A. Pasimio
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, The Philippines

30. Mary Kumvaj
Maria Graterol
Etsuko Ikeda
Sachee Vilaithon
Parichaat Thronchaisith
from APWLD Secretariat

This statement and more information on globalization can be found, with thanks, at:

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