I thought this is a good statement on International Women’s Day, March 8. It was released by Committee for Asian Women based in Bangkok:

On 8 March 1857, women working in clothing and textile factories (called ‘garment workers’) in New York City, in the United States, staged a protest. They were fighting against inhumane working conditions and low wages. The police attacked the protestors and dispersed them. Two years later, again in March, these women formed their first labour union to try and protect themselves and gain some basic rights in the workplace.

On 8 March 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter work hours, better pay, voting rights and an end to child labour. They adopted the slogan “Bread and Roses”, with bread symbolizing economic security and roses a better quality of life.
— United Nations

A century later International Women’s Day is being commemorated with the following realities:

  • 20 million unskilled, low educated Chinese workers have lost their jobs;
    40,000 Indonesian workers in the electronic and manufacturing sectors were fired in only two months in 2008;
    Millions of Indian workers in textiles, leather, gems and jewellery faced job losses;
    5,000 dismissed overseas Filipino workers are returning to the Philippines everyday;
    633 enterprises laid off more than 106,000 workers in January and February 2009 in Thailand, with 1.13 million more expected to be fired by the end of the year.

Up to 90% of retrenched workers will be women. They are concentrated in highly export-oriented manufacturing industries which are now closing down in Asia. Women have always dominated labour-intensive and low skilled jobs and thus have been the most vulnerable to exploitation at work, job insecurity, and arbitrary retrenchment as in the case of today’s global financial crisis.

The prosperity promised by profit-driven, free trade capitalist system, fuelled by the exploitation of cheap labour and consumerist over-production have resulted in debt-ridden lives, environmental destruction, energy and food crises that entwine in vicious cycles of each other. Yet again workers are sacrificed to save transnational corporations (TNCs) and superpower governments that support them.

Neo-liberal specialists insist on intensified Free Trade to solve the problem as if indulging more in what’s killing the people will save them.

A hundred years from Bread and Roses, it is time to reclaim emancipation for women through feminist economics and social justice: cooperation of all society towards fulfilment of human needs instead of human greed; agricultural security; social protection; equitable distribution of wealth and resources; sustainable, self-sufficient gender-fair industrialisation, and not export-led growth fantasies.

An immediate and unconditional halt to all free trade agreements, together with the allocation of insurance funds for displaced workers, nationalising of privatised public utilities and services, development of employment opportunities at home for returning migrant workers, and debt cancellation are needed to bail out suffering workers– the real victims of this global financial tsunami.


15 responses »

  1. Jed Yoong says:

    I think feminism is a big con.

  2. Arif says:

    Now you’re talking Susan..!

    Every ringgit & dollar goes to big corporation, will end up into pockets of the very same man responsible for all this malady.

    In war and peace, its the soldier and workers for the latter, right at the frontline that will be massacred.

    Please write more about this Susan, not many out there are able to read those blogs full of economic jargons, make “free-trade warriors” out there run for their money..!

  3. Teh Manis says:

    If one choses to remain a worker ant, one will be worker ant for life.

    When one choses to be worker ant, one also choses the risks.

    Vice versa.

    P/S: Please… men are also affected. Please do no bias this to promote feminism.

  4. The Penquin says:

    I am not a supporrter of company bailouts nor am i a supporter of any political party. I believe the advocaters of company bailout will put forward that the main reason is because when they save a company from going bust so they are actually saving hundreds or even thousands of workers from losing their income. But if the money is given to the individual how long can the individual survive? on the subject of equality at the workplace i do agree wiith ome of the commentators that not only women have this problem.

  5. motherchell says:

    Woman have been exploited to the hilt by the so called developing Countries as Malaysia. 2 sets of Laws have become 3 sets now . Women are treated by the Rela cronies as commodities .
    What have our Woman Ministers done to uplift the women here? Nothing ,! they have all been busy making hay for themselves.
    Bigotry has added the despair of the woman in Malaysia.
    The Ministers and community Leaders are too busy exchanging wives as they keep Uncle Jak as sentry to cover their tracks .

  6. wits0 says:

    Jed: “I think feminism is a big con.”

    I think it depends of what sort.

    The Gloria Steinem’s feminist sort seems to have degenerated into a sort of leftist post modernist fakery when it reasoned that different cultures may be allowed to apply different yardsticks.

  7. monsterball says:

    It seems that bailing out corporations are indirectly bailing out thousands of workers from being retrenched.
    Those retrenched.or out of a job….is a separate problem.
    This means while bailing out corporations…..the government needs to help corporations to create jobs too.
    It is strange that the bigger company you are….they get financial assistants and all sorts of help from the government.
    Those small and medium size companies…all havi8ng financial difficulties..are being ignores and considered..not important.
    The government seems to forget..a corporation starts from a one man show.
    That’s how the rich get richer and poor gets poorer…and clear signs….of a corrupted government.

  8. As long as they are not bailing out the companies mismanaged by government cronies, but helping out companies that really deserve it, then it’s ok.

  9. seetanggang says:

    This is another “not so clever question” really. Like in a question ” why you save the sinking ship, why don’t you save the passengers?”

  10. Menyalak-er says:

    Sloone – Dorothy Day’s understudy in ‘distributism’. Precisely what the world needs now, to return too sanity.
    Well said Susan. I don’t see any ‘feminist’ ideation here, it’s the bare faced truth! Prove otherwise.
    Methinks a dose of oestrogen is needed here, not testosterone driven drivel – otherwise we all end up in the abyss…

  11. Issac says:

    Hello there !

    I was wondering if you could do me a small favor. My friend Gael, will be organizing a Fund Raising Event called “Malaysian Health & Happiness Festival 2009”. The purpose of this function is to raise fund to help underprivileged & abused woman.

    You can get all the information’s at :

    The Festival is the first health and Wellness family festival of it’s kind in Asia, combining exhibition, conferences and stage demonstrations. In promoting natural health and wellness, it also provide a platform for health professionals, practitioners and therapists to connect to each other and a wider public.

    The will be loads of local & international speakers from a wide range of fields who will give a speech at the workshop. A part of the proceed from the products sold & the admission for the workshop will go straight to the fund.

    Everything is going smoothly for us, we manage to secure a venue, find adequate sponsors and find plenty of exhibitors. What we are severely lacking is publicity. So I was wondering if you could find the space and time to promote this event in your blog? Its all for a good cause. Your blog is a popular one, so there is a great potential to reach out to a lot of people who might be compelled to help our cause.

    Of course, the final decision will be your own whether to publish it or not, but we will be forever grateful if you could lend us a hand, it is after all for a very good cause. And of course we will be greatly honored if you could make it to the event itself.

    I could be contacted at “”

    Your sincerely

  12. free says:

    Have to see what type of corporations. If it is a bank for example, bailing out the company will be wiser because, if the bank go bankrupt, that also means your money (if you deposit money in there) will get fry too. Don’t forget these company are public listed, that means a lot of the money are public shares. Of course, the richer ones will benefit more from the bailout.

    Take this for example, the US government intended ot pump in 500 billion dollar to save citi*. If the money were to bailout all its employees (300,000 of them) and ask the CEO to ‘ta pau’. Each employee get at least a million dollar. Sounds ok, but haven’t we neglected billions of customers who saved money in there will suddenly lost all their savings if the company declare bankrupt.

    On the other hand, if the company is a toll concessionaire, better let the company bankrupt lah! All tolls can close shop, save millions of malaysians!

  13. Thousands are laid off. But they’re baling out big corporations whose management made big time mistakes. The CEOs should be fired!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    i love this BLOG=D

  15. Ashlee says:

    Grrr. this is gay!

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