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Migrant workers are a silent group within a nation's population and have largely been overlooked. Yet, they continue to organize to demand for their rights and just working conditions. Oftentimes, internal migrants, those moving from rural areas to urban ones, are overlooked in favor of migrant workers who leave their countries for a job. Both face much exploitation and oppression due to the temporary nature of their job and lives and having to adjust to new environments and situations.

The first Isis International Activist School, “Media Advocacy Rights and Empowerment,” took place 4-11 April 2010 in Manila, Philippines. Attended by activists, grassroots women leaders and development practitioners from China and the Philippines, the focus of the week-long school was on learning the theory of development communication and applying the knowledge gained to create alternative media. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants created radio plugs and had experience with video advocacy.

On 5 April 2010, an open forum, titled “Development Communications for Migrant Rights: The China and Philippines Experience,” was held as part of the week-long workshop. The forum gathered migrant rights advocates from China, a professor from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, grassroots women leaders from the Philippines and an expert on community radio from Isis International as well as participants of the Isis International Activist School.

Presenters highlighted the ways in which Chinese migrants empower themselves by acquiring communication skills and applying them while dealing with government agencies at various levels. The forum also highlighted the fact that Filipinos have been organizing since the 1980s to promote rights and just living and working conditions for overseas Filipino workers. Alternative forms of media, such as community radio, were emphasized as tools that could be used to inform workers of their rights and to fill in information gaps.

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