Women's Identity: A social, cultural and economic segregation
women as mail order brides
Filipino women migrated to other countries as nurses, teachers
and other professionals. In Canada, these women came to work as
nurses and teachers in the 1960s and 1970s. The nurses were very
visible and it was during this period when the Filipino woman
identity as a nurse came to be defined.
As the economy of Canada continued to expand and became more integrated
witheconomic globalization, the demand for more Canadian women
to participate in the formal sector of the economy also grew.
To replace their unpaid labourat home, the need for foreign domestic
workers also became a necessity. This need for domestic workers
was filled up mostly by Filipino women since the 1980s and it
was during this period when the social construct of the Filipino
woman as a domestic worker began to emerge.
But the relentless expansion and growth of globalization necessitated
further inroads of capital in all areas of human endeavor. Long
Marx already saw this globalization when he said that the expansion
capital would compel it to chase markets "over the whole
surface of the
globe" and commodify everything that comes across its path.
This is precisely true in the trafficking of women today.
in women has become such a lucrative business that it ranks number
three after trade in arms and drugs. This is one major context
of the mail-order-bride business in the Philippines. Mail-order
brides are the latest sector of Filipino women to leave the Philippines.
According to the Philippine government, close to 150,000 Filipino
women left the country between 1989 and 1998, as fiancées
or spouses of foreigners. The top destinations of these women
are the United States, Australia and Western Europe.
is becoming a new frontier for mail-order brides from the
Philippines. In our research published this year, we interviewed
Filipino mail-order brides in five provinces. We found out that
only scratched the surface of this subject. More studies need
to be done.
But one thing that is slowly emerging is a new identity of the
woman as a mail-order bride.
While it is true that a large number of Filipino women may have
successfully into the mainstream of Canadian society, it is also
that our community continues to be marginalized and segregated.
nurses continue to do domestic work and they face systemic barriers
wheneverthey try to return to their profession. Besides doing
the traditional domestic work, they are also being used as 24-
hour home support workers to care for the affluent elderly and
people with disabilities. This is part of the slowly emerging
privatization of the health care system and cheapening of the
nursing profession. It also creates a division a between the nurses
from the South and nurses from the North where the former are
looked down as inferior to the latter.
which continues to be in place, has had a severe impact on the
community as whole and second generation of Filipino Canadians.
The long years of separation due to this program has created dysfunctional
and disempowered members of families. Filipino youth has the highest
drop out rate among high school students in the Lower Mainland.
This will only perpetuate further segregation of the community
and deepening of economic marginalization.
is to be done
Despite all the barriers and our marginalization, Filipino women
continued their resistance. We have always defined our work at
within the context of our situation in Canada that uses us as
in the Philippines that "forces" our migration and within
the global reality
that intensifies our dislocation and forced migration. Our presence
Canada has been largely shaped by our history of migration with
going back to the crisis in Philippine society and the need for
by advanced capitalist countries like Canada. This cheap labor
provided by women from the South who end up at the bottom of the
economic ladder enduring class, gender and racial discrimination.
With this understanding, our work at the Centre involves three
components. The first one is in the area of education. We do
community-based research and education in order to fully understand
reality and root causes of our presence in Canada. The next component
our work is organizing. We organize in order that we can collectively
effectively present our issues both within and outside out community.
way we develop both our personal and collective empowerment. The
component is our mobilization work. We do not only educate and
ourselves. We mobilize ourselves and our community for action
to change our reality. We develop alliances and coalitions with
other women and their
organizations. We also do lobbying work with the government for
change and/or development of policies that are not oppressive,
anti-women and racist.
Thus, our work at the Centre involves mainly three key areas:
organization and action for social justice, genuine development
and just and lasting peace not only for this generation but also
for future generations.
May 4, 2001