Close to 200 former overseas Filipina workers gathered at the launching of the WOMEN REACH!, or “Women Entrepreneurs Reintegrated and Economically Active at Home” Program of the Department of Labor and Employment and Coca-Cola Far East, Limited (CCFEL) over the weekend at the TESDA Women’s Center in Taguig.
The event, which Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz cited as one of the DOLE’s continuing engagement with the private sector to achieve a sustained and continuous set of programs and initiatives for OFWs intending to stay in the country for good, was highlighted by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Coca-Cola Far East, Limited and the DOLE.
Undersecretary Nicon F. Fameronag represented the DOLE Secretary who is heading a Philippine delegation to the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York.
The WOMEN REACH! Program, which is a combination of the Coca-Cola 5by20 initiative that seeks to empower five million women entrepreneurs worldwide within the Coca-Cola system by 2020, has a two-tier set of target beneficiaries.
The first type of beneficiaries is composed of women returnees who are already in retail business and are already engaged in a sari-sari store, grocery, carinderia, food stall, bakery, or restaurant business. They will automatically qualify as training scholar under the Coca-Cola 5by20 Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program.
The second type of beneficiaries, according to Fameronag who heads the DOLE’s Employability of Workers and Competiveness of Enterprises cluster, shall be composed of eligible women OFW returnees who are interested in setting up micro-enterprises of their choice and inclination.
According to Undersecretary Fameronag, the women OFWs will be invited for an orientation session where they can sign up for training in any of the offered courses at Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Women’s Center, including the Basic Entrepreneurship and Gender Sensitivity course to be jointly developed by the Coca-Cola Far East, Limited and the DOLE.
“We had a good turnout of returning women OFWs from various cities and municipalities in Metro Manila, including some provinces in the county, who received orientations about the Coca-Cola 5by20 STAR Program, and DOLE’s several OFW reintegration programs, such as the Assist W.E.L.L.; Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay; Sa Pinas Ikaw ang Ma’am/Sir; and Balik Pinay, Balik Hanapbuhay,” said Fameronag.
Culminating the orientation sessions was the scholarship enrolment for women participants who are interested to avail of the Coca-Cola 5by20 Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program.
The former women OFWs who participated in the orientation worked in various Middle East and Asian countries as nursing aides, household service worker, cashier, waitress, factory workers, ceramic carver, singer/entertainer, caregiver, and teacher.
Before leaving for the UN Conference on Women, Baldoz expressed high hopes that with reintegration as DOLE’s vital support system provided to OFWs, the unique partnership program between the DOLE and Coca-Cola would help empower Filipino women migrants through providing livelihood support will guarantee the viability of their decision to return home.
Coca-Cola Philippines President and General Manager Diego Granizo also conveyed the Coca-Cola company’s solidarity with the Philippine Government in helping ensure economic opportunities are available for returning women migrant workers.
“We recognize that the social cost of migration within families is incalculable, especially detrimental when the women of family is the one who has to leave. I believe that this partnership with DOLE will enable us to help bring lasting positive impact in the lives of marginalized women OFWs,” said Granizo.
The MOU signing and the WOMEN REACH launching capped the DOLE’s full week of partnerships with the private sector to provide employment opportunities for returning OFWs.
On Thursday, 10 March, the DOLE publicly launched the new PhilJobNet, which was highlighted by a one-day job fair at the Occupational Safety and Health Center and the signing of memoranda of understanding with Aboitiz Power Corporation, Makati Development Corporation, Republic Cement, Bruno’s Services Corporation, and Mytaxi Philippines, Incorporated.
These companies have signified their intention and desire to assist the DOLE in providing job and livelihood opportunities for OFWs under the Assist W.E.L.L. Program.
The “WELL” in the ‘Assist WELL’ Program stands for Welfare, Employment, Legal, and Livelihood, the four components of the convergence services that the DOLE’s family of agencies provide to address OFWs’ reintegration needs. These are comprised of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), Bureau of Local Employment (BLE), Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) which supervises the DOLE’s 36 Philippine Overseas Labor Offices.