Migrant Women Push Back Against Modern lavery,
Economic Exploitation, Misogyny.”
Statement of the International Migrants Alliance on the 2019 International Working Women’s Day 8 March 2019.”
The world is no better ten years after the global economic crisis of 2008. Despite employing various tricks under market economics, global growth after the 2008 remains muted, with the United States, the biggest economy in the world, displaying less than 3% economic growth. The dismal growth of many capitalist economies is coupled with ballooning public and private debt. The Institute of International Finance estimated that in the first quarter of 2018, the global debt has reached USD 247 trillion or more than 3 times that of projected global GDP for 2019.
In many migrant-sending countries in the South, Neoliberal economic doctrine is destroying millions of lives. Land-grabbing and dispossession of assets are rampant, and this is coupled with race-to-the-bottom labor policies, forcing people and women to migrate. Forced migration, according to International Organization on Migration (IOM), is “a migratory movement in which an element of coercion exists, including threats to life and livelihood, whether arising from natural or man-made causes” and this is reality is faced by millions if migrants.
Women migrant workers continue to be treated like commodities without rights and suffer slave-like conditions. Migrant domestic workers, farm workers, workers without status receive the lowest wages in many countries, are exempted from labor laws, and remain vulnerable to physical and sexual violence. The International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 189, which calls for decent work for domestic workers, can only go so far with majority of the countries ratifying it as mainly sources of migrant workers, while governments of receiving countries remain unconvinced on the necessity of the said convention. The attention of many governments is skewed towards profits and not on people, on migrants.
As the economic crunch bites for the working people, migrant will be blamed for “stealing” jobs from the local people. In Europe, the conservatives blame the migrants and refugees for “exporting” poverty to the boundaries of the rich countries. In the US under the leadership of Donald Trump, families of migrants are being separated, mothers and fathers from their children, under the guise of controlling illegal migration. Xenophobia and racism is on the rise and migrants and refugees are the ones to bear the brunt.
Women migrants bear the biggest burden. Women migrants continue to be trafficked, abused and exploited. We hear everyday of suffering from our sisters across the globe. Despite high profile cases like that of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih in Hong Kong or Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia, or collective suffering of brothers and sisters from Syria and the Rohingya in Myanmar, day in and day out, we continue to suffer. As we say this, our sisters in the Central American Migrant Exodus continue to suffer from both the abandonment of their respective governments and violence they suffer at the US-Mexico border.
On March 8, International Working Women’s Day, we must as migrant women push back against exploitation and abuse. On March 8, we must unite with other working people and together, push back against neoliberal attacks on our livelihood and wellbeing.
Let our victories in the past, both big and small, be the spring, the source of our strength, for us to continue the fight. We will fight slavery, misogyny, racism and xenophobia, and neoliberalism. We will build solidarity across genders, across nations and strengthen the working-class movement building a better world for all working people.
Eni Lestari Andayani, IMA Chairperson