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Miriam College is a premier women's college in the Philippines. Founded in 1924, Miriam College offers programs at the basic, tertiary, post-graduate and adult education levels.

The institution supports specialized centers engaged in curriculum development, research, community outreach and advocacy in the fields of social development, peace education, environmental studies and women’s empowerment.

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Miriam College and Seisen University: On Gender Equality, Migration, and the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Department of International Studies, together with the Department of Global Citizenship Studies of Seisen University (Tokyo), organized a two-part event on the 6th of July 2021 through the Zoom platform.
 

Part 1: Lecture

The first part was a lecture titled “Gender Equality Impact of COVID-19: Philippine Situationer and International Migration of Filipina Workers.” It was delivered by Dr. Melanie Reyes, Chairperson of the Department of International Studies in Miriam College.

Dr. Reyes began her discussion by providing information on the Philippines’ rank at the Gender Global Gap Index. The country was 10th in 2019, but dropped to 16th in 2020 due to the decreased political participation of women. However, the Philippines remains to be committed to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. These are reflected in the Magna Carta of Women, Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Law (RA 9262), Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), and the Safe Spaces Act.

However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Filipina women are burdened in maintaining sanitary conditions at home, caring for the sick, and managing work with care work. These affect the mental, emotional, and financial aspects of women and migrant workers.

In the context of international migration, the Philippines is among the top remittance-receiving countries. Among the countries that Filipino migrants go to is Japan, where approximately Filipinos are the fourth-largest foreign group after the Chinese, South Korean, and Vietnamese. The Filipinos in Japan are students, caregivers, English language teachers, part-timers in hotels, supermarkets, or factories. In 2019 and 2020, there was an increased number of Filipino nurses in Japan under the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement.
 

Part 2: Exchange Sessions

The second part of the event was the exchanges session between the students from Miriam College and Seisen University. Professor Shun Ohno gave a short introduction about Seisen University and its Department of Global Citizenship Studies. Seisen University shares similar qualities of Miriam College as it is also a Catholic and women’s university, making it an ideal partner university in the Philippines. The Department of Global Citizenship Studies requires its students to join fieldwork projects, including the Philippines to immerse the student in a culturally diverse environment.

Enough time was given for representatives of both schools to go into breakout rooms and engage in a conversation about gender equality and migration. The four breakout rooms consisted of both students and faculty members, where they shared about gender roles and practices of women’s empowerment in both countries. The exchange session brought about increased awareness of cultural differences (and similarities) in the context of gender equality and migration amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a great opportunity for the students to approach social issues of today by looking beyond local issues but rather with a global and wider perspective. -- By: Carizza Arambulo

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