The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) recently concluded its 61st session at the UN Headquarters in New York City.
A local delegation to the UNCSW session was led by officials of the Philippine Commission on Women; the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA); and Coca-Cola Philippines.
During the two-week forum, a parallel event session entitled “Here4Her: Making Reintegration Work for Filipino Women Migrant Workers” featured the partnership of Coca-Cola Philippines and DOLE under the Women Entrepreneurs Reintegrated and Economically Active at Home (WOMEN REACH) program.
Through the panel discussion, Coca-Cola and DOLE were able to share the journey and accomplishments of the WOMEN REACH program during its first year of implementation.Among the panelists were DOLE National Reintegration Commission for OFWs Executive Director Chona Mantilla; Coca-Cola Philippines Sustainability and 5by20 Lead Gilda Custodio-Maquilan; DOLE Assistant Secretary Gloria Jumamil-Mercado; and moderated by Cabinet Undersecretary Gloria Tango of the Office of the President of the Philippines.
“The WOMEN REACH program partnership was conceptualized to help facilitate women economic empowerment and the effective reintegration of returning women overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) by providing them access to livelihood programs, building their entrepreneurship know-how and connecting them to resources that will help them establish their own small enterprises,” shared Gilda Custodio-Maquilan, Coca-Cola Philippines Sustainability and 5by20 Lead.
The WOMEN REACH program is a collaboration of the 5by20 Sari-sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program initiatives of Coca-Cola Philippines and the Assist WELL (Welfare, Employment, Legal and Livelihood) centers of DOLE. Central to the program intervention is to help improve the plight of returning women OFWs and mitigation measures to help address the impact of the feminization of migration to women OFWs and their families.
The STAR Program is part of the 5by20 global initiative of The Coca-Cola Company to help economically empower five million women by 2020. Present in over 80 countries, the Philippines is a lead market in the said global initiative. DOLE’s Assist WELL center, on the other hand, is an integrated resources accessing mechanism established to address the challenges faced by returning women OFWs in the areas of welfare, employment, legal, and livelihood needs. The expertise and resources of these two programs posits a promising intervention that will help women OFW stakeholders under the WOMEN REACH Program.
The UNCSW panel discussion served as a platform for the sharing and exchanging of ideas and experiences both from the panel speakers as well as the audience in the constantly evolving world of work for women overseas workers.