• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
There are more Negrense women Overseas Filipino Workers with jobs abroad than men, according to records of the Overseas Worker’s Welfare Administration Western Visayas.
Of the 51,618 Negrense OFWs, OWWA records showed that 35,712 are female, compared to 15,906 men, encompassing both sea-based and land-based sectors.
Rizza Joy Mapa Moldes, OWWA Western Visayas officer-in-charge who briefed participants of the Forum on Women’s Health and other GAD (Gender And Development) matters, spearheaded by the Provincial Gender and Development Focal Point System, held at the Food Terminal Market of Negros Occidental in Bacolod City, regarding Health and Medical Programs of OWWA, reported that they extended P19 million in financial assistance to 172 OFWs who died, and P6 million to 630 others who got sick, in Region 6, from January to June this year.
The said beneficiaries also include male OFWs, Moldes said.
In tandem with the provincial government of Negros Occidental, she also reported that OWWA Region 6 also extended psycho-social interventions to distressed and displaced OFWs, especially those with traumatic experiences while working abroad.
OWWA records further showed that almost all 416,093 OFWs in Western Visayas are involved in elementary occupation, or domestic workers.
Most cases affecting women OFWs, especially in Middle Eastern countries, are verbal, physical, and mental abuse; confiscation of personal belongings; non-payment or under payment of salaries and other benefits, among others, Moldes said.
She reiterated her call for those who want to work abroad to ensure that their recruitment agency is registered with OWWA.
Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, who also spoke at the women’s forum, said that gender inequality is at the root of many issued that disproportionately affect women and girls, including domestic and sexual violence, low wages, lack of access to education, and inadequate health care, citing an Amnesty International report.
As we have today’s forum, we look into why women’s health is sometimes overlooked, Lacson said, stressing also the need to address the continuing gap in healthcare.
Moreover, we must acknowledge that women’s health encompasses more than just reproductive matters, he said, adding that “we must espouse a broader definition concerning to the overall health of women.”
Lacson also stressed the importance to encourage Negrense women to prioritize their own needs, owing to their natural motivation to prioritize the health of their spouse or children.
Let us not just renew our focus, let us commit to action to make sure that in Negros Occidental, women’s rights are upheld and all forms of discrimination eradicated, the governor said.*