Damayan Holds Health Fair and Gender Rights Training for Women

Blog | Posted by Leah Obias | May 18, 2009

On Sunday, April 5, 2009, North Star grantee DAMAYAN Migrant Workers Association held Abante Babae, an open school on gender rights for Filipino domestic workers at the North Star office in midtown Manhattan. 'Abante Babae' means 'women advance' in Tagalog, the national language of the Phillipines. The first of its kind nationally, the training was a four-hour womens orientation geared specifically for Filipina domestic workers, following DAMAYANs quarterly Lunas (to heal) Health Fair. About 50 women workers attended.

The open school ranged in topics to address different forms of gender violence in the Filipino community: general womens rights in both the home and workplace; pragmatic steps and solutions in case of violations; hard data regarding salary and working conditions of women domestic workers in the US; and a lively interactive dialogue that applied gender and economic theory to the everyday lives of women migrant workers. Women from DAMAYANs leadership spoke from their experiences as nannies and housekeepers to discuss the exploitation of domestic workers, globalization, forced migration and the need for a workers organization.

The open school was conducted in collaboration with Gabriela Network of the Mariposa Alliance.

For those that end up in the domestic sector, their immigrant status leaves them vulnerable to a range of gendered violence and exploitation that must be illuminated as unacceptable and illegal," said DAMAYAN organizer Linda Abad. "This workshop created an environment that allowed a real and deep dialogue to emerge regarding these womens economic, emotional and social predicaments and rights.

In the morning, free health services such as blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, echocardiogram, massage and doctor consultations were available. In line with DAMAYANs primary focus to organize and build the leadership of the workers, the Lunas health fair also provided a Know Your Rights training on health access to educate the community and encourage them to advocate for their own health rights. Health services were provided by Dr. Zenaida Santos and staff, Lions Club of Jackson Heights and the Philippine Nurses Association of New York.

Photos from the event

The room was full for the gender rights training. Click to enlarge. Member/leaders of Damayan.