Philippinen: Mary Lou Alcid

In a globalized economy, will migrants just be a disposable factor to employers? I would like to be optimistic, working for migrant rights.

— Mary Lou Alcid

Mary Lou Alcid’s name is synonymous to the cause of migrants’ rights. She has blazed trails advocating migrant rights and welfare, especially of migrant women who are the most abused. Through her NGO, Kanlungan Center Foundation, of which she has been executive director since 1995, and in alliance with others, Mary Lou (born 1955) has lobbied government to protect Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), helped in community organizing, provided feminist counseling for women migrant workers and put up support structures to empower OFWs and their families.

"Peace," says Mary Lou Alcid, a social worker who has advocated for the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) for close to two decades, "is not just the absence of conflict, structural violence, social injustice and all forms of discrimination. There should be respect for human rights and diversity, with mechanisms for people to resolve various levels of conflict. There must be no injustice in society, even in the smallest unit like the family, from the micro to the macro. Peace cannot be attained while there is injustice, a wide gap between rich and poor." As a professor of social work at the University of the Philippines, Alcid inculcates this culture of peace in her students. As Executive Director of Kanlungan Center Foundation and Executive Chair of Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), Mary Lou applies this concept of peace to migrants as well. "Peace work connected to migration is to keep pressing government to address fundamental economic problems. For the past 40 years the government has been dependent on labor export. Instead of improving the economy, they even encourage us to go abroad." In Mary Lou Alcid’s work, the key word is "integrative" which means (using the Kanlungan framework on international labor migration) levels of intervention are identified: from individual to family to community to the barangay/municipal level up to the national and international levels. Strategies – singly or in combination – are utilized to achieve identified objectives: case management with community organizing, advocacy and development of the local economy. From her broad and diverse experience in migration, from working with rural communities to NGO management and advocacy on an international level, Mary Lou has learned to appreciate individual persons, espouse change on various levels and organize and link up with similar organizations to pursue a common agenda.

Kanlungan Center Foundation Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA)