Babaylan - The Philippine Women's Network in Europe is an initiative of Philippine women's groups and women's desks in Europe.
A result of the first Conference of Filipinas in Europe held in Barcelona on September 23-26, 1992, it is a response to a long felt need of Filipinas living and working in Europe to link together and forge unity to improve their situation, address specific issues affecting women. It seeks to develop an effective and liberating support system for Filipinas.
The Europe-wide network is aptly named Babaylan - a title given to the priestesess in pre-Spanish times. The Babaylan priestesses performed not only sacred rites but also exercised leadership roles in all aspects of community life. They fought alongside with the people for a peaceful and egalitarian society against the imposition of a foreign political-social system by the Spanish colonizers. Though repressed by the Spanish friars, Babaylan priestesses continued to be revered and respected by the people.
We, Philippine women in Europe want the Babaylan spirit to live on.
Babaylan believes that migration is brought about by a combination of socio-cultural, economic and political factors in the Philippines that push women to migrate as well as factors in Europe that pull women to immigrate; the unequal and unjust distribution of wealth and resources in the world; the colonial culture ingrained by years of colonization by the West; the Philippine government's failure to address decisively the problem of poverty and its policies that encourage migration; and the low value of women's work in the Philippines and Europe.
We also believe that Filipinas have common problems that confront them as women migrants in Europe. Like other black migrants in Europe, the Filipinas also experience racism and sexual discrimination. Most Filipinas are employed in low paid 'reproductive work', eceive low salaries, suffer deskilling, intellectual stagnation, unrecognized educational level, and often have language difficulties.