Women swell the ranks of overseas workers, Philippine labor diplomat in UAE says

“Our women know what they want, and they are courageous enough to pursue overseas work despite of its social costs,” Bay said. (AN)
Updated 09 March 2019
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Women swell the ranks of overseas workers, Philippine labor diplomat in UAE says

  • Females are becoming the principle earners in Filipino households
  • The majority of Filipinos who leave for jobs oversea are women

DUBAI: Women’s freedom of movement has become more apparent today, as we see them join the global workforce and take jobs overseas, according to a Dubai-based labor diplomat from the Philippines, one of the world’s biggest sources of migrant workers – most of whom are in the Middle East.

“I think we are at a point where our women are more progressive in their decisions to work and provide for their families,” Felicitas Bay said, noting an increasing trend of women becoming principal earners in Filipino households, a role traditionally assumed by men.

Of almost half a million Filipinos who left the country for a job abroad in 2017, 72 percent are women, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, a dedicated government agency for Overseas Filipino Workers.

“Our women know what they want, and they are courageous enough to pursue overseas work despite of its social costs,” Bay said.

But female migration isn’t only rampant in the Southeast Asian country of 100 million people – it is a global phenomenon.

According to research by a UK-based think tank, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), in 2015, the number of female migrants reached 118 million, or 41 percent of the entire population of international migrants, at 224 million.

The trend points to a change in the labor market in several host countries, including Gulf states, which ODI noted as having the highest growth of migrant workers.

Labor migration first saw men taking up jobs in construction and other gender-specific industries abroad, specifically in the oil-rich Gulf states, according to another report by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI).

But due to a slowdown in infrastructure projects in the early 1980s, the report said employment demands shifted, and women started to join the global workforce, landing jobs in the service industry.

Although the Philippine labor office in Dubai has been recording many Filipino migrants employed in diverse industries in recent years, a huge number work in the service industry.

“Men are perceived as stronger and more capable of manual labor and, as a result, are more likely to work in mining, industry, transport, trade and construction,” ODI said in a research paper, adding that men are “overrepresented in management positions.”

“By contrast, women are perceived as nurturing and are concentrated in ‘feminine’ sectors related to care (e.g. health, teaching, cleaning, cooking, service industries) or entertainment, or in factory positions that prefer workers to be ‘nimble’ or meticulous,” the paper added, citing the United Nations, the International Labor Organization and the International Organization for Migration.

Although this global trend could be a positive indication for women in general, it poses a challenge to home countries, especially those like the Philippines that regard women as natural “homemakers.”

But Bay said families are going to survive, pointing to technology as a vital tool for family members to remain connected, as well as welcoming a “more fluid” definition of gender roles where “everyone can be a breadwinner and a homemaker.”


Supporters say Manning in ‘solitary confinement’: WikiLeaks probe

In this file photo taken on May 24, 2018, former US soldier Chelsea Manning speaks during the C2 conference in Montreal, Canada. (AFP)
Updated 20 min 19 sec ago
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Supporters say Manning in ‘solitary confinement’: WikiLeaks probe

  • The Chelsea Resists group said confinement was having a toll on her mental health, evoking her experience when in 2013, as then-Army Private Bradley Manning, she was sentenced to 35 years in prison

WASHINGTON: Chelsea Manning, the anti-secrecy campaigner who was jailed for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks, has been held in solitary confinement for over two weeks, supporters said Saturday.
Since being sent to a detention center in Alexandria, Virginia earlier this month, “Chelsea has been placed in administrative segregation... a term designed to sound less cruel than ‘solitary confinement,’” the Chelsea Resists group said.
“However, Chelsea has been kept in her cell for 22 hours a day.
“Chelsea can’t be out of her cell while any other prisoners are out, so she cannot talk to other people, or visit the law library, and has no access to books or reading material. She has not been outside for 16 days,” they added.
“Keeping her under these conditions for over 15 days amounts to torture, possibly in an attempt to coerce her into compliance with the Grand Jury.”
Manning, who was convicted in 2013 of leaking more than 700,000 classified US documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks, was ruled in contempt of court on March 8 after rejecting a court demand that she testify in the WikiLeaks probe.
The transgender woman, 31, cited “ethical” objections to the grand jury system.
“I will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to, particularly one that has been historically used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech,” she said at the time.
The Chelsea Resists group said confinement was having a toll on her mental health, evoking her experience when in 2013, as then-Army Private Bradley Manning, she was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
At that time she spent time in solitary and attempted suicide twice, before her sentence was commuted in 2017 by president Barack Obama.
She has argued that since the grand jury investigation is officially secret, it is not clear what they want to learn from her about WikiLeaks’ activities in 2010 that she hasn’t recounted in her earlier trial.
In a previously secret court filing unsealed this week, Manning’s lawyers said she “reasonably believes that the current administration is unhappy with her release [in 2016], and seeks to punish her further by using any means at their disposal to incarcerate her.”