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Women workers, youth worse off under Aquino—groups

PRESIDENT Aquino’s daang matuwid  mantra, according to the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), failed to improve the living condition of women workers.

In a statement issued on International Women’s Day on March 8, KMU said women are, in fact, worse off today than they were six years ago.

Citing data from Ibon Foundation, KMU said the number of unemployed Filipinos are at an historical high.  On the other hand, the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics said that women comprise only 39 percent of employed Filipinos.

“Women form the majority of the unemployed, and many find precarious work in the informal sector,” the statement said.

KMU blamed this to the regionalization of wage-setting and other alleged attacks on the legally mandated minimum wage, which proves that “there remains no genuine minimum wage in the country” and, worse, “women workers suffer more from this because of wage discrimination.”

According to KMU, contractualization, which is already the norm in most workplaces in the country, continues to spread.

“Women workers are concentrated in sectors of the economy, which are some of the most contractualized—the service sector, special economic zones  and agro-corporations,” the group stressed.

Women contractual workers are deprived of maternity benefits.

Because they can be laid off from work easily, contractual women are the ones most vulnerable to sexual exploitation by managers and capitalists, KMU added.

The majority of workers who died in factory fires under Aquino’s term—Kentex (2015), Asia Micro Tech (2014), Novo Jeans (2012)—are women.

Meanwhile, KMU said the rising cost of commodities and social services make life even more difficult for women workers, who often double-duty as homemakers.

The group cited the reports from the women rights-advocacy group Gabriela, indicating that police reports of violence against women have peaked in the past months.

Meanwhile, the Kabataan Party-list group said that, with the crippling poverty affecting more and more families, more and more youths are engaging in antisocial activities for survival.

Estimates of various sources reveal that 60,000 to 100,000 youth and children are pushed into prostitution each year.

“We’ve heard about ‘sex-for-flight,’ but how about the cases of ‘sex-for-tuition,’ ‘sex-for-exams’ and ‘sex-for-baon?’” the group asked.

“This facts only manifests with the alleviating commercialization of education. We grave with these cases of prostitution in the country and other devastating avenue of youth and students, just to comply the heightened cost of education,” Vennel Francis Chenfoo, third nominee of Kabataan Party-list group said.

“The spiraling cost of education—coupled with growing joblessness and worsening poverty—are attacking the youth on all fronts. We won’t allow these to intensify for it only aggravates the engagement of Filipino students to antisocial activities,” Chenfoo added.

Youth organizations will join the activity for the International Women’s Day to echo the call for the respect of the rights and welfare of women and youth.

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