The Babaylan - Philippine Women`s Network in Europe, which is composed of various Philippine women`s groups, women organizations and women`s Desks in Europe believe that:
Migration of Filipinas is brought about by a combination of sociocultural economic and political factors in the Philippines that push the women, as well as factors in Europe that pull them to migrate; the unequal and unjust distribution of wealth and recources in the world; the colonial culture ingrained by the long years of colonization by the West; the Philippine government failure to address decisively the problem of poverty; the Philippine government policies that encourage migration; and the low value of women`s work in the Philippines and Europe.
We also believe that Filipinas have common problems that confront them as a woman, a migrant and a Filipina in Europe. Like other black migrants in Europe, the Filipinas also experience racism and descrimination and are often stereotyped as "sexobjects". Most Filipinas are employed in low paying "reproductive work"; experience sexual molestation, de-skilling and intellectual stagnation.
A lot of Filipinas married to European nationals are forced to be legally and financially dependent on their husbands because their education is not recognized, employment possibilities are in low-paying jobs, they have language difficulty and their contribution as housewives is not recognized in the society.
There are Filipinas who underwent experiences of trafficking and they were deceived, physically, sexually and psychologically harassed, and financially exploited by pimps, bar-owners, recuiters and traffickers. These women are the ones usually punished by lawmakers in Europe and not the traffickers.
Faced with these experiences of sexual and racial descriminiation and exploitation, we Filipinas in Babaylan believe that we have to link together to be able to have more power in fighting against patriarchy and the instituionalization of racism in Europe.
2001 BABAYLAN CONFERENCE DECLARATION
We, the 58 delegates Filipina migrant workers, immigrants and youth from 10 European countries, namely Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the Philippines came together and convened the fourth Babaylan Conference in Rome, Italy, from the 18th to the 21st of October 2001.
We are united in our view that poverty is more than just the lack of the basic necessities in life. Poverty is a state of deprivation and disempowerment which results from a process in which only a privileged few deprive the majority of their basic needs in life. This phenomenon is not endemic to Filipinos but also to the developing world whose conditions are rooted in historical and global factors which require global solutions.
We also hold the view that poverty is not only material poverty but spiritual as well.
We believe that women carry additional burden of poverty, and finding solutions to these problems. This results in the increasing migration of Filipinos specially women from the homeland .
Our Conference deliberations reflect and re-affirm this process of injustice and inequality through which we have to give up the following: relationships, careers, and traditions in the Philippines among others. We are deprived of our rights to choose our political leaders both in the Philippines and our respective host countries. This has affected our health and physical well-being and thus develop stress-related ailments. Opportunities for training, education, and self-development are available, but are not easily accessible and oftentimes exclude or discriminate against women and migrants. Our skills, academic qualifications or work experience in the Philippines are not recognized in the host countries. Domestic workers are considered unskilled and therefore not entitled to the rights and benefits of regular workers. Domestic work of women remain unrecognised and uncompensated in many countries. The sons and daughters of migrant workers become alienated from Philippine culture and suffer from identity crisis, while those left in the Philippines who are deprived of the necessary parental guidance at times drop out of school, indulge in vices and become consumerists and materialistic. Women who marry European nationals become economically dependent are prone to abuse and violence.
We recognize the link of the poverty that we experience as migrants in Europe with the more extreme poverty experienced by our fellow Filipinos at home.
The fourth BABAYLAN Conference therefore, resolves to implement the following resolutions:
1. Every migrant should have basic information on the following:
Telephone numbers of important offices, like the police, embassy, hospitals, etc.
List and telephone numbers of migrant centres and organizations, government, NGO offices in the home country
Migrants should get support from these offices and groups when needed.
Guidelines for migrants on such issues like taxes, pension, health plans, etc.
2. BABAYLAN should undertake cultural and education work
Learn further about Philippine history, heritage and culture so that we can assert our identity as Filipinos
Re-educate us as migrants and our families regarding the negative effect of financial assistance and dependency, consumerism and luxurious lifestyles
Learn the language of our host country, and for the young to learn the Filipino language to deepen links to their Filipino roots
Collate Filipino songs and make a book ( for fund raising)
Get info-media contacts to spread information on the Philippines, e.g. culture, etc.
Deepen discussion (malalim na pag-usapan) on sexuality and gender issues and concerns: violence, sexuality, relationships, economic empowerment (cycle of women's life)
3. BABAYLAN should encourage members to develop deep spirituality
Develop a sense of self-empowerment
Access personal and skills development
Conduct seminars on stress management, self-centering, assertiveness, etc.
4. In order to develop effective programs for migrant women, BABAYLAN should undertake researches on the following:
Comprehensive research on the status of Filipino migrants in Northern and Southern countries in Europe. A team should be created to do representation work with local governments in host countries to facilitate gathering of information.
5. BABAYLAN should continue its work of organizing migrant women and their families
Organize/involve Filipino communities with other migrant communities, with local institutions/NGOs
BABAYLAN and the country chapters and organizations should join and be active in labour unions/ political groups / migrants affairs office / migrant organizations at the local/ national levels
Lobby on the European level for the recognition of Philippine diploma and other qualifications
obtained in the Philippines
Fight for the rights of overseas Filipino workers/ migrants to have a voice through voting rights and
representation in government
Join the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) campaign on Automatic Appropriations Act :
Signature campaign on the repeal of the Automatic Appropriations Act
Be Involved in national (host countries) campaigns on the cancellation of debts and migrant policies
Organize seminars on the debt issue in different countries
Launch a Campaign on Domestic Workers Rights
Join the RESPECT campaign on Migrant Domestic Workers' rights
Give focus to and address the need of the undocumented domestic workers
Advocate for the concept that migrant organizations are experts for cultural integration
Push for bilateral agreement between the Philippine government and the host country regarding protection and security for domestic workers
BABAYLAN to work on issue of violence against women
BABAYLAN to be involved in "shelter/safe house" network
Upgrading of skills of domestic workers
7. BABAYLAN should develop different programs to address specific concerns
Programs and Activities for MIGRANT YOUTH
Exchange ideas and experiences with other youths
Dialogue between parents and children
Organize leadership training for the youth
Relatives in the Philippines should get guidance ( in case of children left in the Philippines)
Socio-economic Alternatives for Migrants
Encourage entrepreneurship and cooperatives among Filipinos in Europe
8. ECONOMIC ALTERNATIVES FOR THE PHILIPPINES
As a key strategy - to build relationship based on trust with Philippine partners
Networking: to obtain more reliable information for advocacy and practical programs
Community to community matching
Feasibility studies for alternative trade
BABAYLAN concrete action for the next two years: concrete financial
Support for Philippine based groups
Our past experiences in organising migrants Filipinas have shown us the need to widen our network beyond the Filipino-focused organising to the main centres of European society.
We, therefore, resolve to mainstream Filipina migrant concerns in European society and achieve recognition and assertion of rights in the context of the worldwide poverty and inequality engendered by a globalising society.
21 October 2001, Rome, Italy