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TRANSFORM ASIA is a non-profit, non-stock, non-government organization registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission (with Company Registration CN200406771) in 2003. Transform Asia takes up gender and labor issues and campaigns in the Philippines, where the institute is based, and in other East Asian countries.

General Aims

• To establish a research and training institute focusing on gender and labor issues to assist development agencies and other civil society organizations in Asia with program work, as well as policy development linked to advocacy.

• To enable the linkage of gender and labor networks in the region to share information, exchange experiences and studies in order to inform and strengthen their respective areas of work.

• To link up gender and labor networks with academic institutions and individuals with expertise in these areas.

Specific Objectives

• Conduct research and publish research materials
• Monitor existing research and trends
• Popularize research findings in literacy packet format
• Conduct training based on the above
• Set up a web-based data base for information sharing
• Provide a forum for dialogue of gender and labor networks

Rationale

The pattern of industrialization that took place in East Asia from the 1970s onwards saw the entry of large numbers of women into the labor force: a trend referred to as “the feminization of labor”. The phenomenon of the feminization of the labor force is having a major sociocultural impact on many countries.

While labor began to organize and strengthen its influence in several countries, in many instances starting with the struggles of women workers for better wages and conditions, the specific needs and concerns of workers as women and the related gender equity issues in all aspects of working life, from the workplace to the family, have been largely ignored or inadequately addressed by trade unions and other civil society organizations working in the labor sector.
Meanwhile, the rise of the international women’s movement through the 1970s and 1980s also saw the development of women’s organizations and networks in Asian countries. This laid the basis for seriously addressing gender equity issues in development through the 1980s onwards.

However, these two “movements” representing labor on one hand and gender equity aims on the other, while having some influence on each other’s thinking and practice, have essentially remained separate with very little dialogue, alliance work and joint activities between them. Nevertheless, there is an increasing “intersectionality” of gender equity issues and labor issues, and a genuine need for these networks to share,
learn and link up.

There are also important variations within the East Asia region which impact differentially on gender equity and labor rights issues. For example, co-existing sideby-side, are the following trends:

• The rapid industrialization of the NICs (newly industrialized countries, such as South Korea, and those in the process of industrializing, such as the Philippines and Indonesia)
• The “transitional economies” such as Vietnam and China, which are starting to become serious economic competitors of some of the NICs
• The impact of the industrialized economies on the region, such as Japan and Australia.
These developments also have major ramifications for the future socio-economic development patterns in the region. There is much debate and discussion within some CSOs on what models of development are the most socially responsible and equitable from a gender equity and labor rights perspective.
Understanding these trends and their impact on peoples lives is key to putting in place effective development strategies and practice in the region.

Transform Asia’s Regional Focus

East Asia (both the “old” and “new” NICs, specifically South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines where strong labor and gender organizations linked into regional networks already exist); the transitional economies with a specific focus on Vietnam and China; the impact of the industrialized economies, Australia and Japan, on the region.
To research and compare the interrelationships (such as multilateral and bilateral agreements) within and between countries in these “blocs”, their impact on labor and gender equity issues, as well as develop linkages amongst gender and labor groups in these countries.

 

Asian Network Coordinators:

Sonny Melencio
Executive Director, Transform Asia

Reihana Mohideen
Chairperson, Gender and Social Development Specialist, Transform Asia

 

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