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Sivu on päivitetty 2.1.2007 updated

Women and Working Life in the Philippines - Naisten asema Filippiinien työelämässä

Activists of a Philippine women's network Makalaya, Tes Borgoños, Mye Hega ja Cecile Villarente, visited Finland in the beginning of December 2003. Their host here was TSL, Työväen Sivistysliitto. Meeting with the Filipino visitors was on Thursday, December 11 at 6 pm. in TSL's office, Hakaniemi, Siltasaarenkatu 4, 7 krs., 00530 Helsinki. The event was organized by TSL together with the Finnish-Philippine Society.

MAKALAYA in Finland 7 - 15 Dec 2003

1. Teresita M. Borgoños, Chairperson of MAKALAYA, earlier a local union president in a garments factory (10 years). She is now the Vice-President for Women and Gender Concerns of the National Union of Building and Construction Workers (affiliated to IFBWW). She is also a member of the Executive Committee of IFBWW and the Asia Pacific Chair of the Women Committee.

2. Mylene D. Hega, Secretary-General of MAKALAYA and currently the Deputy Executive Director of LEARN. She is specialized on developing, implementing and evaluating education courses for workers and also organizing women committees in the trade unions and women's formations in community organizations.

3. Cecile A. Villarente, Chairperson of the Davao Chapter of MAKALAYA in Mindanao. Before her full-time work for MAKALAYA (which started last year), she used to work for a legal aid foundation where she was an organizer for indigenous communities. She was also active in the youth movement during her university days. She coordinates the organizing initiatives of MAKALAYA in two other areas in Davao province (Davao del Norte, Northern Davao and Davao del Sur, Southern Davao) and is also responsible for coordinating campaigns.

All are members of AKBAYAN and Borgoños and Hega active in AKBAYAN Women Committee.

MAKALAYA profile

The Manggagawang Kababaihang Mithi ay Paglaya (MAKALAYA) was established in 1998 by women trade unionists, community leaders and women working in informal employment. It was initially organized to challenge the trade union movement to be more responsive to women issues and concerns, hence, its role as a pressure group within and outside of the labor movement.

Among its major areas of concerns are the following:

1. Education and training. It aims to prepare the women leaders to take leadership roles in the unions by raising their consciousness on workers issues and women issues. It also focuses on skills leading to enhancement of women's capacities in union administration and negotiation.

Education Strategy
MAKALAYA is in the process of reviewing its education program and conceptualizing a women workers' school. The idea is to design a program aiming at the following:

a. To understand the interplay of global economic restructuring with that of the local workers' situation
b. To understand the effects of changes in workplace arrangement with the effect on women's work
c. To define politics and leadership based on women's experiences
d. To be equipped with the necessary skills in union administration and participation in local politics

The goal is to develop competent women workers who are ready to take leadership roles in the unions/local government units.

2. Organizing. It aims to help the women formations within the unions to develop programs and services which are responsive to women and gender concerns in the workplace

Organizing Strategy

Vertical Structure

Each chapter will have sub-chapter structure based on work classification: namely formal and informal/community-based. The sub-chapters will be divided further into "sectoral groupings" (example: The formal sector can be subdivided further into hotel and restaurant, public service, etc. while the informal sector can be subdivided further into vendors, community caregivers, etc.) This structure will be useful in terms of pinpointing issues for advocacy work /identifying workplace issues and concerns.

Horizontal Structure

While maintaining the vertical structure, members are also organized geographically. This structure will be useful in terms of building-up community/sisterhood among our members and in politics and governance concerns.

3. Campaign and advocacy. Its aims to mainstream women workers issues at different levels: workplace, community, local government units and national policies and laws

Trade Unions

The major campaign now is on the implementation of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law, which was passed in 1995, but compliance to the law is very low. The campaign is both at the workplace and legislative levels. In the workplace, information campaign will be the main focus while amendments to the laws will be targeted at the legislative level.

Aside from this, MAKALAYA is also closely monitoring the bills being proposed at the House and the Senate that will affect women workers. But it is also very crucial to monitor the implementation of the existing laws and policies protecting/affecting women workers.


By law, at least 5% of the budget of the local government units should be allocated to gender and development. In practice, very few local government units comply. This is mainly due to the fact that majority of local officials and organizations advocating for women's issues are not aware that such law exists. Or if they do, they do not know how to access the budget. Hence, a campaign to understand GAD mainstreaming and GAD budget policies is prioritized by MAKALAYA.
Through this campaign, MAKALAYA aims to change the concept of politics and governance by mainstreaming women issues and concerns.

Aside from the aforementioned women-specific campaign issues in the trade unions and community-based organizations, MAKALAYA is also active in advocacy work on general workers' issues and national issues like campaigns against neo-liberal globalization, anti-corruption, anti-war, etc.

4. Network building. It aims to establish links with women workers' organizations at the local and international levels to exchange experiences, issues and strategies on mainstreaming gender.

Locally, MAKALAYA is a member of the Freedom from Debt Coalition, a multi-sectoral organization advocating for macro-economic concerns. Majority of the MAKALAYA members are also members of the political party, AKBAYAN.

MAKALAYA is also working with trade unions in terms of increasing the participation of women in trade union activities. Link-up with international organizations is yet to be strengthened.

4. Services to members. It aims to respond to members' concerns needing professional help such as counseling both legal and psychological, setting-up small business or livelihood program, etc.

Different programs relevant to the character of the chapter are being introduced to service the needs of the members. Right now, several livelihood programs are being managed at the Cagayan de Oro chapter. The National Secretariat, on the other hand, has established links with an alternative lawyers' group to facilitate cases of concerning violence against women.

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