After years of working overseas, migrant women return home and build businesses 


Ellen Elecanal spent almost her entire adult life taking care of other people's families in three foreign countries. Now,  she's finally back home looking after her own family—but still trying to adapt to a place no longer familiar after being away a quarter century.

Ellen Elecanal tends her bakery in September 2017. Photo: UN Women/Nuntana Tangwinit
Ellen Elecanal tends her bakery in September 2017. Photo: UN Women/Nuntana Tangwinit

Here in Iloilo province of central Philippines, Elecanal, 49 and single, tends the bakery she opened with her savings and lives with her brothers and their children. Business is going well, she has five employees and does retail more than 4,000 pieces a day, catering and wholesale.

Elecanal's story reflects the devotion and trials of the many thousands of migrant women who each year leave poorer countries of South-East Asia in search of work and better lives. With help from UN Women's Fund for Gender Equality, Elcanel was able to achieve this goal.

The worries that many female migrants like Elecanal have about the future have been eased by a programme called "Coming Home, Reintegration of Migrant Domestic Workers in the Philippines", supported by UN Women Fund for Gender Equality through the grant awarded focuses on.

The 2016-2019 programme, run by Atikha Overseas Workers and Communities Initiatives, a Philippine non-governmental organization, works with overseas workers in Hong Kong and Singapore, two favored destinations for domestic workers from the Philippines. As of September 2017, Atikha had trained 600 of the women how to manage their incomes and plan their return home.

Read the full story on UN Women's regional website for Asia and the Pacific