Globalization, Gender, Employment, and Social Policy: Comparing the Philippine and Japanese Experiences

Rosalinda Pineda Ofreneo


The largely negative effects wrought by globalization have been magnified in the late 1990s by the Asian crisis, which saw many women in the affected countries losing their jobs, facing more insecurity in various forms of irregular work, trying to make do in the unprotected informal economy, and roaming foreign lands to earn a living for themselves and their families. Women and men are affected differently; a gender perspective shows how this is so particularly in the field of employment. Scarce economic opportunities at home drive Filipino women and men towards overseas work at a rate of about 2,400 a day. By the late 1990s, most of the new hires had been women who go abroad mainly as domestic helpers, care givers and entertainers, thereby giving substance to what has been called feminization of migration. The exodus is explained by the usual push factors: poverty, unemployment, family responsibilities, failed relationships, as well as pull factors such as prospects of much higher incomes, better standards of living, and possibilities of permanent residence through marriage. The migration of Filipino women to Japan also has to do with gender dynamics which has seen more and more Japanese women marrying late, refusing to have children or take on 3-D (dirty, demanding, demeaning) jobs that include entertaining and sexually servicing Japanese men. Through the years, Filipino women have learned how to struggle and adjust within Japanese culture, manifesting stronger indicators of agency and resilience. A major source of strength is the existence of a strong support network in both Japan and the Philippines, which has been there since the late 1980s.

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