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Ailyn Agonia
Empowering women through education and raising awareness of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) global standards aimed at ending violence and harassment in the world of work and landmark Qatar labour reforms is at the heart of the mission and vision of the BMKQ Women.
BMKQ, which stands for Bayanihan ng mga Manggagawa sa Konstruksyon ng
Qatar (BMKQ), is a non-profit, welfare-oriented organisation of Filipino workers in the construction sector with more than 600 members. BMKQ Women is a special programme of BMKQ established in 2019 and driven by the desire of the female active members of the group to bring women empowerment at the fore of BMKQ’s overall vision.
At the helm of this campaign are 60 female community leaders headed by Myla Laja, BMKQ Women President.
“Our priority is to build a strong campaign on raising awareness and support to ILO Convention 190- Harassment and Violence in the World of Work. We aspire to educate and develop more women leaders through trainings as well as strengthen support to the community and workers welfare through coordination with the Philippine government and Qatar’s Ministry of Labour in understanding the implementation of the new labour reforms,” Myla told Qatar Tribune in an interview.
Talking about the motivation to establish BMKQ Women, the staunch advocate of women’s rights said, “I was inspired to form BMKQ Women following my participation to the Global Women Meeting held in Skopje, Macedonia in 2019 to represent BMKQ. The event was attended by 40 women leaders from 20 countries in Asia, Africa, Middle East, Latin America and Europe. The inspiring words of the Chair of BWI (Building and Wood Workers’ International) Women Committee on finding solutions instead of mere complaining and putting blame on the challenges and difficulties faced by women has struck me that I was motivated to go further and learn more about women’s rights.”
Myla added: “Our first membership orientation seminar was conducted in November 2019 with only 14 women from construction sector and different allied sectors. Continuous trainings and activities help us to further understand and improve our knowledge on the issue. As of now, we have 60 members from various industries including construction, manufacturing, hospitality and services sectors including medical workers, salon staff, hotel employees, cleaning staff and domestic workers.”
Since its inception, BMKQ Women has engaged its members in various activities including the group’s first International Women’s Day gathering in March and the celebration of International Migrants Day and BMKQ Women’s Graduation held recently.
Last year, BMKQ Women conducted a series of trainings and seminars mainly on Basic Gender Sensitivity, Gender-Based Violence and Basic Leadership Skills Training for Women.
“The highlights of our trainings on gender sensitivity focuses on the gender and different perception of individuals based on their physiological and biological functions as dictated and raised by the society. The seminar raises awareness and understanding of different genders and uplifts women’s roles and importance in our society. All the participants shared their insights and voiced out their remarkable experiences and learning. During our gender-based violence sessions, we tackled the root cause, effects and responses to have a decent and safe workplace free from violence and harassment. We also put emphasis on leadership skills by training our members on two major characteristic of good leadership: behaviour and skills,” said Myla.
BMKQ Women partners internationally with the global union federation BWI and locally collaborates with Community Leaders Forum of ADSLA and Bayanihan ng mga Domestic Workers.
Aside from Myla, the BMKQ Women office-bearers include: Engr. Meliza Ortiguerra (Vice President), Rhoselyn Dolloso (Secretary), Ana Hezel Aglipay (Treasurer), Suzette Oli (Auditor), Marissa Llaneta and Jenny S. Mendez (PROs), Rosario Dano and Lorena Salvador (Business Managers), Nora Concepcion, Roxan Carrascal and Adelyn Lucanas (Sergeant-at-arms), and Ludelyn Pelonio and Engr. Belinda dela Cruz (Membership Committee)
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