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Cañada College Student Studies Labor Rights in UAE

Matet Malit, a Filipino immigrant, spent the past six months studying Filipino domestic workers

 

Matet (R) with Philippine Ambassador Grace Princesa
Cañada College student Matet Malit recently finished a six-month study of Filipino domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates that included an internship with Migrante International in Dubai, a Filipino labor rights group.
 
It is estimated that thousands of domestic workers from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Ethiopia are hired each year by families in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and paid substandard wages. Recently, the Philippines and UAE began discussing a new agreement outlining the rights of domestic workers.
 
Malit said the internship was an eye-opening experience. “I had the opportunity to interview several key grassroots actors, including the president of Migrante International in UAE as well as the group's members.” Malit said she conducted policy studies on runaway domestic workers and other cases involving low-skilled workers. She reviewed the legal, economic, and political challenges and constraints in providing labor and employment assistance to Filipino workers.
 
“At the policy level, I had the opportunity to assist the Philippine Ambassador to the UAE, Grace Princesa, on identifying legal and policy challenges in securing labor protection for household workers in the UAE,” she said.
 
Last December, Malit spent a month working for Kanlungan (Shelter), a Philippine organization in London. There, she assisted domestic workers applying for citizenship and other labor-related cases. “All of these experiences have not only deepened my understanding of labor but they’ve also inspired me to pursue a career in public policy.”
 
Migrante International holds a rally in the UAE
Malit’s interest in the issue was sparked by Cañada College History Professor Mike Noonan. “I took Professor Noonan’s Middle East History class and he instructed us to analyze a current event in the Middle East. I selected the issue of labor and migration issues of Filipino workers in the UAE. I focused on the coping mechanisms and experiences of workers.”
 
“Cañada has certainly provided me with excellent training and tools to become an insightful researcher,” she said. “I want to thank professors Chuck Carlson, Lezlee Ware, and Elizabeth Terzakis for helping shape my understanding of labor and its relevance in the global economy. I also want to thank the TRIO program and Melissa Alforja for helping to facilitate the internship.”
 
Malit plans to finish her studies at Cañada and earn an associate’s degree in political science and then apply to UC Berkeley where she will study public policy.

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