Gender Dimension of Migration


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Gender Dimension of Migration

  1. 1. The Gender Dimension of Migration: The Discursive Construction of the Filipina as an Overseas/Migrant Worker in the 2008 International Conference on Gender, Migration, and Development and the Global Forum on Gender and Migration Open University 2009 University of Hildesheim 09 June 2009 Lourdes Veneracion-Rallonza (Miriam College, Philippines)
  2. 2. ‘A Nation of Servants’ <ul><li>In the context of the Philippines’ sovereignty claims on the Spratly Islands, a Hong Kong journalist wrote: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ As a nation of servants, you don't flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Chip Tsao, “The War at Home,” HK Magazine (2009) </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Master-Servant Frame <ul><li>“ As a patriotic Chinese man, the news has made my blood boil. I summoned Louisa, my domestic assistant who holds a degree in international politics from the University of Manila, hung a map on the wall, and gave her a harsh lecture. I sternly warned her that if she wants her wages increased next year, she had better tell everyone of her compatriots in Statue Square on Sunday that the entirety of the Spratly Islands belongs to China.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- Chip Tsao, “The War at Home,” HK Magazine (2009) </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Deconstructing ‘A Nation of Servants’ (J. Manipon 2009) MASTER China (HK) SERVANT State Individual Philippines Employer (HK Chinese man) Domestic Helper (Filipina) Frame Patriotism Obedience and rejection of native land
  5. 5. Politicizing the Household (J. Manipon 2009) <ul><li>Convergence of macro (i.e. nation) and micro (i.e. home) </li></ul><ul><li>Arena where international politics is played out </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Philippines <ul><li>Archipelagic state located in SEA </li></ul><ul><li>Middle-size country with a population of 90M </li></ul><ul><li>Predominantly Catholic </li></ul><ul><li>English as medium of instruction </li></ul><ul><li>Ranks 3 rd (after China and India) in global migration </li></ul><ul><li>(2007) approximately 8.73M Filipinos in 193 countries: 3.69M permanent residents abroad, 4.13M as temporarily working overseas, and the remaining 10% considered as irregular migrants </li></ul>
  7. 7. Migration is serious business... <ul><li>potential to endanger the viability of the state’s economy </li></ul><ul><li>- Marcos: institutionalization of exporting labor </li></ul><ul><li>- Aquino: ‘bagong bayani’ (modern heroes) </li></ul><ul><li>- Ramos: labor migration as integral to industrialization </li></ul><ul><li>- Arroyo: systematic skills upgrade </li></ul>
  8. 8. Migration is serious business... <ul><li>capability to threaten the political survivability of an incumbent government with its failure to protect the migrant workers </li></ul><ul><li>- Maricris Sioson (1991) </li></ul><ul><li>- Flor Contemplacion (1995) </li></ul><ul><li>- Sarah Balabagan (1997) </li></ul><ul><li>- Angelo dela Cruz (2004) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Gender Dimension of Migration <ul><li>Migration is in itself a gendered process </li></ul><ul><li>- mediated by gendered norms, stereotypes, expectations, opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>- global market (still) locked in a sexual division of labor (i.e. demarcation between women and men’s work) </li></ul><ul><li>- supply-demand for ‘gender’-specific labor (i.e. care functions assigned to women) </li></ul><ul><li>- feminization of migration (in the last 30 years) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Women and Migration (De Dios 2009) <ul><li>Women have always been part of migration movements but was not seen significant </li></ul><ul><li>“ Feminization of migration has been identified as a new labor migration stream in the last 30 years when women migrant workers increased in magnitude and reach.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- In some years between 1990 to 2004, women constituted up to 70% of new hires among land-based workers (Baggio 2008) due to increased job opportunities in domestic & care-giving sectors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- In the Philippine mid-term report on MDGs, it cited 72% of newly hired migrant workers in 2005 were women </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- “feminization of labor does not strictly refer only to numbers but to the kind of work demands that transforms domestic labor as an unpaid labor into paid labor by the capitalist market” (Dungo 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>More women (i.e. single and married) are migrating on their own </li></ul>
  11. 11. Modalities of Migration (De Dios 2009) <ul><li>Migration of domestic helpers to Middle East and Southeast Asian countries (e.g. Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei), and Hong Kong </li></ul><ul><li>Migration as entertainers in Japan </li></ul><ul><li>Skilled (nurses, teachers, corporate managers, administrators) female migrants to North America and Europe </li></ul>
  12. 12. Factors influencing Female Migration (De Dios 2009) <ul><li>Family obligation and expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Search for personal growth and opportunity </li></ul><ul><li>Active government promotion of overseas work </li></ul><ul><li>Global demand for ‘gender’-specific work (i.e. domestic work, care service, entertainment) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Reasons for Working Abroad (Sobritchea 2006)
  14. 14. Person/s who influenced the decision (Sobritchea 2006)
  15. 15. The Construction of the Filipina as Overseas/Migrant Worker <ul><li>Robyn Rodriguez’ “Domestic Debates: Constructions of Gendered Migration from the Philippines” (2008) </li></ul><ul><li>“ ...civil society actors, including feminist and women-centered NGOs... produced representations of migrant women that drew on patriarchal logics in their bid to effect reforms to Philippine migration policy. Their constructions of migrant women resonate in important ways with those produced by Philippine migration officials themselves. As a consequence, civil society actors find themselves unwittingly colluding with the state in enacting laws that only serve to discipline women and to conform to dominant notions of gender and sexuality.” </li></ul>
  16. 16. The Construction of the Filipina as Overseas/Migrant Worker <ul><li>Some observations from selected texts from </li></ul><ul><ul><li>International Conference on Gender, Migration and Development (ICGMD), 25-26 September, Manila, Philippines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2) Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), 27-30 October 2009, Manila, Philippines </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. The Context of the ICGMD (Concept Note) <ul><li>Mainstream HR and WHR in discourse and practice of migration and development </li></ul><ul><li>provide a multi-stakeholder forum to explore, highlight and propose actions and partnerships to address the issues arising from the gender, migration and development nexus </li></ul>
  18. 18. The Context of the ICGMD (Objectives) <ul><li>To 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; </li></ul><ul><li>To infuse a gender perspective and rights-based approach to policies, programs, and services on migration; </li></ul><ul><li>To contribute to the mainstreaming of a gender perspective in the deliberations of the 2nd Global Forum of Migration and Development to be held in Manila on 27-30 October 2008. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Some Observations in 2008 ICGMD texts (Domingo-Albert 2008) <ul><li>Majority of Filipino women working overseas take on jobs which are “extension of their roles in performing domestic chores” </li></ul><ul><li>Irony: Philippines have a relatively higher level of educated Filipinas </li></ul><ul><li>High literacy of women not balanced with availability of jobs in the country --- high unemployment rate results in abundant (idle) female labor </li></ul>
  20. 20. Some Observations in 2008 ICGMD texts (Dungo 2008) <ul><li>Choice of labor migration to improve economic stability of the household </li></ul><ul><li>Basic concern on children and elderly ‘left behind’ </li></ul><ul><li>issues that are touching the core of the formation and care of the human capital of the family, and the nation which appear rather neglected and rendered invisible with the preoccupation on remittances and indicators of national development in relation to migration </li></ul><ul><li>Emergence of ‘transnational families’ </li></ul><ul><li>- Despite the separation caused by national borders and distances these families look after one another, share resources and maintain their social relations (Alicea, 1997, Bryceson & Vuorela, 2002) the members of transnational families also provide emotional care and guidance from afar ( Hondagneu-Sotelo & Avila, 1997) </li></ul>
  21. 21. Some Observations in 2008 ICGMD texts (Anonuevo 2008) <ul><li>Emergence of ‘support mechanisms’ such as NGOs to respond to the social impact of labor migration to ‘families left behind’ </li></ul><ul><li>Athika is a community-based NGO that initiates interventions to help overseas Filipinos and their families cope with separation and enable them to save and invest for their future so that migrants can come home the soonest possible time </li></ul><ul><li>With regards to gender promoting gender sensitivity, Athika tries to reach out to husbands/fathers to take on the role left behind by their wives/mothers of the house; also aims to ease the burden of female family members who suddenly become surrogate mothers </li></ul>
  22. 22. Some Observations in 2008 ICGMD texts (Sobritchea 2008) <ul><li>Focus on the risks that domestic workers face: poor working conditions, vulnerability to sexual and physical abuse, absence of legal protection, lack of knowledge on sexual and reproductive health (SRH), and limited access to social services and reproductive health-related problems such as unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, STI and HIV/AIDS </li></ul>
  23. 23. Some Observations in 2008 GFMD texts <ul><li>Scarce reference to gender in general </li></ul><ul><li>When mentioned, reference is attached to: </li></ul><ul><li>- ratio of female/male migrant workers </li></ul><ul><li>- gender sensitive policies on female welfare and domestic workers </li></ul><ul><li>- trafficking and vulnerability/victimization of women migrant workers; ‘double discrimination’ as women and as migrants </li></ul><ul><li>- suffering and disintegration of families </li></ul><ul><li>- inclusion of women’s sectors in participative policy-making </li></ul>
  24. 24. Some Observations in 2008 GFMD texts (Dacuycuy 2008) <ul><li>Training programs as one of best practices in the Philippines </li></ul><ul><li>‘Super Maid’ Program </li></ul><ul><li>- launched in the aftermath of displacement of migrant workers during the Israeli-Lebanon conflict </li></ul><ul><li>- response to widespread perception that household help from the Philippines lack respect and subject to maltreatment due to lack of skills </li></ul><ul><li>- goal was to improve image of unskilled migrant worker through formal training in language conducted by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and OWWA </li></ul>
  25. 25. Some Observations in 2008 GFMD texts (Dacuycuy 2008) <ul><li>Training fees range from Php8,000-10,000 (EUR120-150) + Php1,000 (EUR15) for every certification </li></ul><ul><li>Philippine Government’s demand to increase minimum wage to USD200 </li></ul><ul><li>Since then, the POEA saw a 40% drop of deployment of ‘super maids’ </li></ul><ul><li>“ In a market wherein unskilled workers predominate, a rise in the wage of one class necessarily translates into a fall in demand...[t]he increase (in wages) is an imposition, which implies that it is not market-determined.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Dacuycuy 2008) </li></ul>
  26. 26. Some Observations in 2008 GFMD texts (Baggio 2008) <ul><li>Social costs of international migration </li></ul><ul><li>- high percentage of mothers in labor migration: relinquishing of care giving functions to husbands, other female family members, or extended families </li></ul><ul><li>- younger children of absent mothers not able to understand their mother’s absence </li></ul><ul><li>- adolescent children divided between appreciation of benefits and desire to have their mother back </li></ul>
  27. 27. Some thoughts to ponder... (Caring 2005) <ul><li>Embedded gender roles (global care chain approach) </li></ul><ul><li>Vulnerable subjects (sacrifice and suffering approach) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Bagong bayani’ or new heroes (imaging approach) </li></ul><ul><li>Need to highlight as well the idea of agency and self-empowerment (resistance against sexist confines approach) </li></ul>