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Women OFWs call to end VAW

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MANILA, Philippines – 16 women VAW survivors-turned-advocates (Violence Against Women) were invited by Safe and Fair Philippines (SAF) to engage in workshops and training sessions designed to further build their confidence so that they can stand up and speak up for themselves and other women. Through the Babaeng BiyaHero campaign, these women survivors and champions also came out to speak up about the challenges and various forms of violence and abuse they have had to face, strongly calling an end to VAW.

Entitled Empowering Voices, Empowering Choices: Women OFWs and Survivors of Violence Calls to end VAW” the activity was held in Bulwagang Tandang Sora, CSWCD, UP Diliman and was also done in support of the United Nation’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and commemorate the International Day for Eliminating Violence Against Women (IDEVAW). 

“To this day, thousands of female OFWs remain at risk of abuse, harassment, and violence without having a platform to be heard. That is why days like IDEVAW are important. It is an opportunity to raise awareness on their issues and concerns, gather more public support for our unsung heroes, as well as recognize the power of their stories,” said Charisse Jordan, the National Project Officer of the UN Women Safe and Fair Programme. 

“How our Babaeng BiyaHero champions bravely share their stories to the world, whilst helping other women survivors of violence receive the support that they needed is aligned with survivor-centred approaches provided in the 16 Essentials for Quality Multisectoral Service Provision to Women Migrant Workers Subject to Violence.”

Supporting women migrant workers, VAW survivors and their advocacies

SAF continues to raise awareness on the plight of women migrant workers and calls for changes that ensure a better workplace environment and migration experience for them. This recent gathering concluded a week of activities that included a two-day workshop called Training of Trainers and a visit with Senate officials & officers from the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW). 

Training of Trainers was designed to improve the storytelling & public speaking skills of the Babaeng BiyaHero champions, teaching them how to effectively communicate the advocacies and messages of their campaigns. The workshop also included policy advocacy training to better familiarise themselves with the migrant-focused and VAW-supportive policies at a national and local level—specifically covering the Gender Responsive and Inclusive Pandemic Management Act or “Senate Bill No. 375” (SBN 375) and the mandates of the DMW. Public and media engagement lessons were added to help build up their confidence during events, as well as psychological first-aid to support them in processing their past traumas and triggers as VAW survivors. 

“We are inspired by the strength and courage of our Babaeng BiyaHero champions who tirelessly advocate for a safe and successful migration journey through the stories they share and by rendering their voices for those who cannot speak out yet. We remain dedicated to finding ways so they can continue to articulate and exercise their voice, choice and agency. May this inspire and give strength to others too and also awaken consciousness of those who need to take action and address these problems” said Rosalyn Mesina, Country Programme Coordinator of the UN Women Philippines Programme Presence Office.

SAF also scheduled sessions for their Babaeng BiyaHero champions to meet with legislators and government agencies who are responsible for creating the policies that support women migrant workers. They visited the Office of Senator Risa Hontiveros to get more information and guidance on SBN 375 which ensures gender-responsive and inclusive protocols and programming to address the gender-differentiated needs of women during pandemics, public health concerns, emergencies, and disasters. They also discussed their most pressing concerns and suggestions with the DMW to know more about the department’s commitment to end violence against women migrant workers and promote gender equality.

Lubos kaming nasisiyahan na may programang katulad ng Safe and Fair na pinapalakas ang boses ng mga kababaihan, OFWs at mga survivors ng pang-aabuso. Marami kaming natutunan na aral at mahahalagang impormasyon sa workshop at sa pagbisita namin sa mga pinuno ng pamahalaan. Nasasabik din kaming gamitin ang mga natutunan namin para ipagpatuloy pa ang aming adbokasiya tungo sa ligtas at patas na karanasan ng mga katulad namin women migrant workers. [We are very appreciative of SAF for organizing these activities for us. We have learned so much from the workshops and have taken away many valuable information from our meetings with government leaders and partners. We are excited to use this as we continue advocating for a safer and fairer experience for all women migrant workers], shared Babaeng BiyaHero Champion, Abegail Compuesto of Nueva Ecija. 

Calling for the elimination of Violence Against Women

IDEVAW is dedicated to raising awareness for women, especially migrants who are and were subjected to forms of violence that are often hidden from the public eye. In the Philippines, there are over 10 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) working in more than 200 countries, in which 56% of Filipino women are typically employed in lower-paid and precarious jobs abroad. 

In recent findings, 75% of the 4,830 OFWs who seek assistance from the embassy per year are women who experienced different types of violence.

Visit and follow the Safe and Fair Philippines on Facebook for more information and the latest updates. Go to the Babaeng BiyaHero website (babaengbiyahero.info) for more information about the situation of Filipina migrant workers, or if you need to contact or report any incidents.

 

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