overseas Filipinos

Berlin exhibit trains spotlight on Filipino women migrants in Germany

Mari-An C. Santos

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Berlin exhibit trains spotlight on Filipino women migrants in Germany

EXPRESSION. Krisanta Caguioa-Moennich's exhibit at the Philippine Embassy in Berlin in March 2023 shows portraits of Filipino women migrants in Germany, using their works as captions.

Philippine Embassy in Germany

The exhibit offers a platform for Filipino women migrants to share their experiences and raise hard questions, says Philippine Ambassador-designate Irene Susan Natividad

“Filipinas are not just marriage migrants. If the German and European laws and policies only allow it, we can have more Filipinas in different sectors here.”

At the opening of her exhibit, Para kay Juana: Mga kuwento at larawang migrante sa Alemanya (For Juana: Stories and portraits of migrants in Germany), artist Krisanta Caguioa-Moennich stressed the need for Filipino women in Germany to have more rights, more access to resources in society, and more opportunities for economic growth.

The exhibit opened on March 18 at the Philippine Embassy in Berlin. It runs until March 31.

Caguioa-Moennich is a language and cultural mediator of the NGO Ban Ying e.V. Coordination and Counseling Center against Trafficking in Human Beings. 

Her works, she said, honor the Filipino woman’s migrant spirit.

“They are fighters. [I want] to let the world know that they exist and their stories are real,” she said.

Philippine Ambassador-designate Irene Susan Natividad said the exhibit “celebrates the strength and resilience of migrant women and promotes the empowerment of women in general.” 

“Many Filipinos in Germany are in the nursing profession, the IT sector, and the services industry.” said the ambassador.

During the opening reception, three Filipinas talked about their challenges and victories as migrant women in a foreign land.

“We wanted to provide them a platform for their voices to be heard, to create avenues for hard questions to be raised, and for other women in similar situations to draw inspiration from their experiences.”

HERSTORY. Philippine Ambassador-designate to Germany Irene Susan Natividad (left) and artist Krisanta Caguioa-Moennich listen to ‘Jona,’ recall her experiences as a Filipino migrant in Germany. Philippine Embassy in Germany

According to Germany’s Federal Statistics Office, there were 24,575 Filipino women in Germany at the close of 2021, making up most of the 32,245 Filipino population in the European country.

Neither the German agency nor the embassy, however, had statistics on Filipino women migrants’ work areas, though nursing and allied medical professions have always been a strong market.

The works on display are the result of a two-part series: acrylic paintings from  Caguioa-Moennich’s project for Ban Ying’s 30th anniversary in 2019, and pen and ink on transparent paper that was part of a joint project with the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women.

Her portrayal of the women – showing their backs but adorned with their own unique characteristics and words reflected as captions- is borne of Caguioa-Moennich’s difficult migration route as a single working Filipino mother.

During the pandemic, despite the imposed lockdowns, Ban Ying continued to create connections with vulnerable women through technology to mediate their services. The group produced videos online, and offered email and telephone counseling for migrant women in Germany.

It is crucial to have solidarity among migrants,” Caguioa-Moennich stressed. 

“Let us not leave the job of supporting and helping women to NGOs, embassies, and other government bodies. We can do more if we influence and inspire each other.”

The Ambassador said government officials can nurture and empower women by consciously using the gender lens in day-to-day work. 

“We should at all times, be very conscious in ensuring that our actions promote gender equality and women empowerment,” Natividad said. – Rappler.com

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