May 24th, 2016 — It is exactly ten days since I left Manila on a flight bound for Vancouver, where I spent some time with fellow intern and dear friend, Nadya in her home in East Vancouver. From there, I slowly made my way home to Toronto. And by slowly, I mean slowly—by train, over four days, with limited Internet, asingle electrical outlet to serve all sleeper class passengers, and an overwhelminginability to “sum up” this experience for the blog that was already late.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a CEDAW national consultation in recognition of the 35th anniversary of the Philippines’ ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). I learned here that the Philippines drafted the original CEDAW bill presented to the United Nations, marking an important moment in the collective recognition that women faced distinct barriers to equality that deserved legal and governance attention. Today, the terrain of gender rights work is changing, affected by policy reforms that are facilitating the Philippines’ integration into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community. How will CEDAW find relevance and contest gender-blind policy in this new domain?
In this entry, I reflect on the research I have been conducting with the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) on the labour recruitment apparatus in the Philippines. I consider several structural challenges that exist in the protection of rights for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and comment briefly on the main trends in recruitment reform.
On December 8th, 2015, I had the opportunity to attend the first gender and migration forum organized by a partnership between UN Women (Asia and the Pacific), the Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines (CHR) and my host organization, the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA). I recount my observations from that day and reflect on the UN treaty process in terms of its potential to mobilize rights-based work.
Recounting the first few weeks of CAPI training in Victoria, British Columbia, I am reminded of our intern group’s conversations on privilege, anti-oppression, gender-based work, and how these worlds intersect with migrant rights advocacy. In many ways, speaking of privilege set the tone for how I continue to think about how to represent the place that I—temporarily, and with awe—live in, struggle with, and am trying to describe all the time.