Examining the struggles for domestic workers: Hong Kong and the Philippines as interacting sites of activism

In: Philippine Political Science Journal
Ma. Glenda Lopez Wui National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

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Dina Delias Division of Sociology, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

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Drawing on transnational activism literature, this article presents a nuanced understanding of political action and the link between two contexts of struggles – the Philippines and Hong Kong – in order to explain the emergence and development of transnational political action. It presents a narrative of the emergence of transnational activism that spans Hong Kong and the Philippines by examining the political opportunities and organizing activities undertaken by two major transnational non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to establish and sustain political action for and among foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong. The article shows that those who pioneered the activism in Hong Kong were products of the contentious Philippine politics and worked on social justice issues in their homeland prior to their stint in the territory. While the activists advocate for workers’ rights in Hong Kong, they continue to link their activism to their home country. This linkage is promoted by the discourse of “forced migration,” wherein the issue of worker migration has been framed, illustrating that poor governance has made migration more of a forced option rather than a choice for workers.

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