Asia Pacific Women's Village at WTO meeting in Hong Kong
Some 150 women representing various women’s organizations in Asia from the ranks of peasants, indigenous, Dalit, herders and fishers gathered in a ceremony to open the Asia Pacific Women’s Village at the Victoria Park in Hong Kong in the morning of December 14, 2005. The Asia Pacific Women’s Village is set up as a site where women come together to share their stories on the negative impacts of WTO to their lives and livelihood, have solidarity and draw strength from each other’s struggles and stories, display and share their local products and information materials and talk of common actions while the 6th ministerial meeting of the WTO is taking place.
The Asia Pacific Women’s Village is being coordinated by the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), a network of women in the Asia-Pacific region which is also currently running a women’s campaign called Don’t Globalise Hunger.
“WTO is causing us deeper hunger and poverty”, is the common call of the women. “We demand WTO to get out of agriculture where most of us derive our livelihood, for WTO to get out of our lives”, the women delegates chanted in the opening ceremony of the Asian Women’s Village. The women reverberated the call for women in Asia to resist WTO.
About 60% of food production in the Asia-Pacific region is done by women. With hunger getting more massive and poverty deepening, more and more women in Asia suffer greater violence as they are pushed to take up low-paying jobs as farm workers and farmhands of rich land owners, take up low-paying menial jobs, forced to give sexual favors in exchange of rice to eat for the next meal and out-migrate even to foreign lands just to be assured of survival.
Asia Pacific women delegates also participated in an opening march by some 10,000 WTO protesters from all over the world from Victoria Park to the designated area close to the Convention and Exhibition center where the 6th Ministerial Meeting of the WTO is being held.
Participating Asia Pacific women will also be holding a Talanoa event, a Fiji word for story-telling, at 4:00 pm today at the Asia Pacific Women’s Village. The Talanoa event will also launch the patches of women’s resistance towards global resistance, a collection of slogans of women against WTO which will be sewn together to come up with a huge patches of women’s resistance. The collective sewing of the patches will symbolize the building of a stronger unity among Asia Pacific women, specially rural women to resist WTO and be recognized of their right to land and food and against all forms of violence including hunger and poverty.
The Asia Pacific Women’s Village hopes to bring the less-heard voices of Asia Pacific women to the media and groups closely monitoring the development of the 6th ministerial meeting hoping to bring to the public the women’s perspective of the negative impact of the WTO. The voices of Asian women will add up to the voices of the world’s peoples to derail the 6th Ministerial Meeting towards the junking of this global trade regime.