FIELDWORK OUTPUT DELIVERABLES: Objective #4
Consolidation of the All UP Women Solidarity
The All UP Women Solidarity was established by the wives of members of the All UP Workers Union in order to have a voice in the community and support their husbands in their struggle to uphold employees’ rights and their participation in union activities relating to national issues. Their roles as wives and mothers render them accountable for the nurturance and maintenance of their husbands, children, and their households alongside their employment and involvement in community activities. Thus in creating the All UP Women Solidarity they are in the company of other women who understand their needs, issues, constraints, problems and concerns in the accomplishment of their reproductive work and are further bound together by their support for the causes of their husbands as part of the Union.
Nature of the Organization
We have had the opportunity to observe a few of their meetings and participate in an activity they had organized (The Gawad Lourdes Crisostomo 2008: Pagkilala sa mga Natatanging Kababaihan ng UP Diliman). Our observations and valuations of the different aspects of the All UP Women Solidarity are as follows:
Membership and Recruitment
The main criteria for membership is that one be a spouse of an employee of UP.
Hierarchical Structures and Leadership
The organization acknowledges the existence of a core group, whose initiative presumably led to the establishment of the AUWS. Core group members Ate Connie and Ate Fransing speak of the AUWS with evident pride but without self-indulgent braggadocio, with conversations always centered on coming activities, plans, or past meetings. They are even quite self-effacing actually in their discussion of their involvement with the AUWU or with the AUWS, always focusing on issues and activities. Though it may be simply a matter of personality, the regularity with which this type of attitude occurs among members may also be indicative of the organizational culture.
The organization currently has an ad hoc committee whose members act as the officers. Though the AUWS is linked with the All UP Unions, its hierarchy does not follow that of the unions, nor is there an assumption of leadership of the spouses of the incumbent officers of the union. There is an acknowledgement though of the wives of the current officers and deference to core group members, – a gesture which Ate Shirley (Ka Buboy’s wife) and Ate Connie, for example, quietly and good-naturedly brushed aside, or, if we may say, “brushed back” to the facilitator.
Though there seems to be an acknowledged organizational structure with committee members presiding over meetings and having decision-making powers specific to tasks for activities, there were indications that the actual practiced structure was that of a flat organization.
From our observation, the leaders seem to function as coordinators and moderators. As the items on the agenda are discussed one by one, for example, there seems to be an intimated motion and agreement that each person in attendance is welcome to share perspectives on the matter – a kind of round-table discussion – which is characteristic of feminist organizations.
Conduct of Meetings
The meetings we attended had a set agenda but were fluid in discussion and accommodation of points. Ate Celeste, who managed the discussion, acted as a facilitator, ensuring that all items on the agenda were covered. She allowed for related issues and side discussions to be entertained, then steered the dialogue back to the items on the agenda.
Decision-Making Policies and Mechanisms
We did not have the opportunity to observe a core group meeting, as understandably core group members or leaders may have more decision-making powers. However, during the meetings, decisions were reached by consensus, and any opposition was heard out and discussed, before the members reached a final decision where it seemed the ideal scenario was that everyone was amenable to the resolution.
Organizational Expectations of Members
We got the impression that members were expected to attend, participate and contribute whenever they could given their appreciation of the realities of a wife and mother.
We learned that their meetings also included updates on current national issues and the positions taken by the Union. During one meeting we attended, the facilitator read aloud some excerpts from articles, some definitions, and flyers, after which the group discussed the issues surrounding the ZTE-NBN deal. It was a comfortable, sharing-type discussion where some contributed what they knew and their stands on the issues while others remarked that they were learning or understanding these for the first time.
Range of Issues Addressed
As part of the All UP Union “umbrella”, we surmise that there is an expectation that the AUWS address these issues from a political standpoint or analysis shared with the organization of their husbands.
Hindering Factors / Sources of Conflict
Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to be integrated well enough to observe any hindering factors or sources of conflict. The Christmas season, centennial celebration preparations, and the active participation of the All UP Unions in the MOBs and rallies addressing national issues made their scheduled meetings more erratic.
Conclusion and Recommendations
- Community-based programs for women will be good opportunities for bonding, meeting practical needs while serving information to meet strategic needs. Initially these may focus on activities that address practical needs of women, i.e. medical mission (pap smear); later on seminars and fora on relevant topics such as livelihood development, small-scale entrepreneurship and non-formal education may be offered.
- Support group formation
- “Speak-out” sessions among women are a great tool for communicating to each other that they are not alone in their concerns, needs, problems, and issues. Though speak-outs do not work for everyone on the part of sharing, these may be cathartic and enlightening on the receiving part. Ethical parameters should be set regarding the treatment of the information shared.
- Peer counseling and the creation of safe spaces for women are also important in helping them resolve immediate problems while also enlightening them about options and egalitarian / feminist concepts and views.
- Education and training to build their capability
- Gender awareness seminars
- Gender sensitivity training
- Seminar/training on feminist counseling
- Flat organization or non-hierarchical structure for decision-making may be maintained.
- Hold “socials” for women in the community as an opportunity for bonding and as a respite from their daily grinds.
- GSTs for both the wives and husbands should also be held.
“Women and the All UP Unions: Mainstreaming the Women’s Agenda – An Integrated Field Work Paper” written Jelina Tetangco and Cindy Cruz-Cabrera | March 2008
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