Monday, March 29, 2010

For May First

Gearing up for the May 1st immigrant rights mobilization, here are data to clarify the debate, from the Center for Economic and Policy Research:

• Immigrant workers come from Mexico (32%), the Philippines (4.9%),
India (4.9%), China (4.2%) and El Salvador (3.5%) -- top five

• Immigrant workers comprise 15% of the workforce and 13% of unionized workers

• Immigrant workers who are unionized earn about $5 more per hour than
non-unionized workers.

It's curious that the Philippines -- which is quite a distance from the US and with a smaller population -- should rank equal to India. I am surmising that the Western-style educational system, a product of colonialism, comprises part of the impetus for emigration. I have to check whether the gender ratio for the Philippines (65% female) holds true for the other countries.

Being a predominantly female population has its advantages and disadvantages. The push to build a women's network is there; but the vulnerability to a predator (and that has many meanings to me, including political; many entities profess to be pro-woman but actually work to bring women under patriarchal control) is also pronounced.

Building sisterhood is always a step forward but replicating feudal or nativist power hierarchies among women works against equality. Such hierarchies are usually patriarchal based. Hierarchies, to my mind, should only be based on skill, ability, knowledge and capacity for work, so they represent more of a structure of competence and wisdom than anything else.

The drive for women's emancipation has or should have the undercurrent of enabling women to engage with one another and with society on the basis of democratic equality. The drive for women's liberation builds on this internal emancipation and pushes forward to crush class and other structures that exploit and oppress women. Minus one or the other and everything backslides.

My two cents for this month. -- ##

Monday, March 08, 2010

Factoids For International Women's Day

Alexandra Kollontai, the only woman in Lenin’s Central Committee, wrote about her life and gave the book the title “Autobiography of a Sexually Liberated Woman.”

After the death of Ossip Zetkin, her lover and comrade, Clara Zetkin married George Friedlich Zundel who was 18 years her junior.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Better Educated But Still Crummy Jobs, Pay

Saw this at

Although more than half of the enrolled students around the world are women and girls, increased education has not lead to corresponding gender equality and achievement levels in employment and politics, and with regard to social norms. At all levels of education, school curiricula reinforce negative/traditional stereotypes of women as home makers, mothers, and devalued members of society. At the university level, many women are still confined to studying “soft” subjects within the social sciences, whereas men continue to dominate “hard” fields, like engineering, math, and technology.

In the Philippines, women have higher literacy scores than men, and more than twice as many women graduate from college (17.83% of women compared to 8.24% of men). However, women only represent 20% of engineering and law students, predominantly receiving degrees in female-dominated fields, like education and health. And alarmingly, in several regions of the world, for example Africa and parts of Latin America, while the majority of enrolled students are still female, the number of women and girls enrolled in school is declining.

It validates one distressing observation: Philippine women have just about done all the prescribed solutions to inequality but continuously find themselves in worse situations of gender oppression and exploitation. Note that majority of exported domestic workers from the Philippines are educated, some at post-grad level. And yet they find themselves back at household work. I half-suspect that calling such domestic workers serve to hide what should have been glaring: their re-feudalization in terms of the character of the work and in terms of what obligates them to accept becoming exported.

Oh, please, enough with the poverty narrative! That's just not the totality of it. - #

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


From Global

"For every $1 in aid a developing country receives, over $25 is spent on debt repayment."

"The poorer the country, the more likely it is that debt repayments are being extracted directly from people who neither contracted the loans nor received any of the money."

Is there a presidential candidate who will promise NOT to borrow or beg for aid?