The Asian economic crisis has been particularly difficult for many women and young children who have taken up garment work in their homes to support their families, Filipino women told Secretary of State Madeline Albright. During a break from a regional diplomatic conference, Albright sat down with several women garment workers to discuss their increasingly scarce and dangerous working conditions. Many who used to work on their sewing machines at home now depend on it as a solitary source of income.
“We all know that women do most of the work although they don’t get most of the pay,” Albright commented. Improvement in working conditions and overall status will come as a result of the empowerment of women, said Albright.
Many Filipino women are seeking empowerment through the use of lending organizations, such as the one headed by Cecile Zacarias, which make small business loans to female workers. Zacarias added that women have a good record of paying back these small loans.