- Published on Wednesday, 16 April 2008 11:08
- Written by BWU
The Center was formally known as a “Drop-in Center” but will now be called as the “Women’s Empowerment and Resource Center”. The center has been running as a sanctuary for migrant women in Mae Sod for the past 3 years and provides a space where they can learn from each other, exchange their concerns and opinions, as well as relax and enjoy some personal time.
Various women empowerment and community development activities have been conducted at this space. Like the library, the center also hosts a discussion each month and they are conducted in a similar manner.
The center’s main goal is to provide the much needed assistance and services to migrant women workers as they are unable access resources due to their lack of rights and status in their country of migration.
The center also acts as emergency temporary shelter for those who are in transition or are in a crisis situation(s). It has at the same time become a safe retreat place for those in need of rest from long-hours of hard manual labor work on their day-offs. The BWU has referred many cases needing further assistance, long-term shelter, medical treatment and legal assistance through the organizations networks in the area. The center accommodates training and workshops on women empowerment. In addition, other services include counseling, laundry facilities and reading materials. The main topics at the empowerment trainings have been on: migrant workers’ rights, women’s rights, human rights, child rights, reproductive health, and violence against women, to peace building, conflict transformation, non-violence for social change, and community organizing.
The center also provides sewing training as a means of “upgrading” women workers skills that they can get better-paid job. Many clients had often expressed desire to learn however as a result of the cost, they were unable to do so. The aforementioned trainings were established as a way of assisting women meets their needs.
Currently seven staffs run the center operations: One coordinator, one counselor, one health educator, two women empowerment trainers, one sewing trainer, and one staff. The two trainers and one counselor have been trained in feminist counseling and conflict transformation and are on full-time duty to assist these women in need of emergency help. When it opened in 2004 (under its previous title), about 700 women from 13 factories used the drop-in center facilities and participated in monthly discussions and workshops. In 2005, a total of 992 women from 32 factories had used the Drop-in Center’s facilities.
The center is open 5 days a week from Wednesday to Sunday and in addition to the aforementioned services, it also offers entertainment systems including multimedia to be utilized for the clients. The counseling and health education sessions are offered during the week as well as on a “special appointment/need” basis. The coordinator and staff manage the schedule of the drop-in center whereas trainers organize workshops that range from 2-3 hours to one-day long.
The staff of the center also collects and maintains video documentaries and movies to use as resource materials for group discussions. Often a forum in which women can discuss their views and opinions follows a presentation. Sewing training is offered to 3 women at one time for the period of 3-5 days and each month a total of 12 women are trained under this program.