Alongside the 100th anniversary global celebration of the International Labor Organization (ILO), a media launch and public forum on Ending VAW and Discrimination, and Empowering Women OFWs: The Safe and Fair Program and Key Strategies of Philippine Stakeholders was held last 11 April 2019 at the Rigodon Ballroom of the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City.

The event served to drum up awareness on the Safe and Fair – Philippines programme strategies. It also aimed to highlight the various programmes, services, activities of Philippine stakeholders in ending VAW, gender discrimination, empowering women OFWs and changing public attitudes on women OFWs and to give public space to the voices of women migrant workers in addressing these concerns.

In her message, Diana Van Daele, Programme Manager-Health, EU Delegation in the Philippines recognized the initiatives of government and other partners in addressing violence and discrimination against women migrant workers. Ms. Van Daele emphasized that change can happen if it is supported by social and cultural movements working to eliminate violence against women migrants and their empowerment. She added that the Safe and Fair Programme, the first project to be implemented under the Spotlight Initiative, can bring about real change for women and men migrants.

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Women migrant workers claim their rights during the media launch and public forum of the Safe And Fair – Philippines.


 Atty. Hans Leo Cacdac, Administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and Safe and Fair – Philippines National Project Advisory Committee (NPAC) Chair, congratulated ILO and its tripartite partners on the occasion of its centennial anniversary. Administrator Cacdac made mention of recent initiatives to assist women migrant workers such as the May I Help You Corner at NAIA 3, the 1343 / 1348 /1349 hotlines as proof of the Philippine government’s continuing commitment to improve services for migrant workers in general and women migrant workers in particular.

He also highlighted the value and importance of coordinative work in bilateral and multilateral work, citing the role that ILO played in bringing about the ASEAN consensus, the agreements between the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon, the safe repatriation of OFWs. At the end of his opening message, Administrator Cacdac called for better and stronger partnership among stakeholders on reintegration (and welfare), especially in making sure that the funds directly given to beneficiaries are put to good use and that cases reported in the hotlines are attended to, addressed, and assisted to ensure justice, gender equality, and safe and fair migration.

Ms. Maricel Aguilar of UN Women talked about the intersectional forms of abuse experienced by women migrant workers, the need for gender responsive migration policy landscape and governance, and to reduce the stigma faced by returned women migrant workers.

In his overview of the Safe and Fair Programme, Rex Varona of ILO said that the project is a tale of women migrant workers’ vulnerability and empowerment, about identifying gaps and getting a handle on addressing these gaps in order to increase the choice, the voice and agency of women migrant workers.

Ms. Novelita Palisoc, a migrant returnee who survived exploitation while working overseas as a domestic worker, shared her journey as a domestic worker, a survivor, a returnee, unionist, and a leader.

A panel discussion highlighting the initiatives by the stakeholders from government, civil society and trade union emphasized the value of shared responsibility and stakeholders coming together to plug the gaps in addressing cases of violence against women migrant workers. The discussion revolved around creating a protection mechanism involving all stakeholders playing different roles in the various stages and phases of migration in order to address the condition and situation that makes women migrant workers vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

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Eumarlo Tolosa of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas talked about the 1343 Actionline Against Human Trafficking and how it contributes to creating the protection mechanism for women migrants.

The Safe and Fair – Philippines Programme is a multi-year joint initiative implemented by the ILO and UN Women along with partners from government, civil society, trade union, and migrant organizations with support from the European Union under the Spotlight Initiative.