International confab to come up with ‘Manila Call To Action’ for the protection of migrant women’s rights

24 September 2008 — The Philippine Government, through the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, the government’s machinery for women’s advancement, leads the 2008 International Conference on Gender, Migration and Development: Seizing Opportunities, Upholding Rights. Delegates and participants to the conference are expected to sign a “Manila Call To Action” to address the issues, challenges and opportunities for migrant women and their families.

With President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as principal advocate, the conference, which will be held on September 25-26, 2008 at Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City, seeks to infuse a gender-perspective and rights-based approach to policies, programs and services on migration. The two-day conference will facilitate the exchange of knowledge and best practices in promoting opportunities and gender equality for women migrants, enhancing their contribution to development and upholding their rights and those of their families.

According to NCRFW Chair Myrna T. Yao who is also the Deputy Minister of the event, the results of the conference will contribute to mainstreaming gender in the 2nd Global Forum of Migration and Development to be held in Manila this October 2008.

Chair Yao explained that the phenomenon called the “feminization of migration” now exists because of increased social acceptance of Filipino women’s relative autonomy in household decision making and export-led industrialization. Of the total of 1.52 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) deployed all over the world during the period of April to September 2006, 50.4 percent are women.

“It is the result of gendered socialization in the country and the gendered demands of foreign employers. The emergence of ‘woman specific’ skilled and unskilled jobs in the formal and informal sectors abroad sustain and perpetuate this phenomenon,” she stressed.

Aside from the “Manila Call To Action,” it is expected that the conference will result to global and multi-sectoral partnerships and networks among governmental bodies, civil society organizations, academe and private sector to strengthen approaches to enhance the opportunities for migrant women and protect their rights.

Representatives from international and regional organizations, government senior officials and parliamentarians (from United Nations Member States) directly involved in policy making, civil society, non-government organizations, religious groups, trade unions, academe and private sector are expected to attend this conference.

The conference is supported by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), Women and Gender Institute of Miriam College (WAGI-MC) and Lola Grande Foundation for Women and Children, Inc.