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The Development Action for Women Network (DAWN) is a non-government, non-profit organization established in 1996 to assist distressed women migrants from Japan, as well as their Japanese-Filipino children, in the promotion and protection of their rights and welfare. In 2011, DAWN expanded its programs to include Filipino migrant domestic workers and their families.

It has four core programs:


And two support programs:



Up to the mid-1980s, the vast majority of migrant workers were men. By the late 1980s, when the demand for service grew in the international arena, more women workers started to join the migrant workforce. This era marked the feminization of migration.

There was a rapid increase in the number of women Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). Most of them are domestic workers and entertainers. In the 1970's, the Philippines starts sending Overseas Performing Artists (OPAs). About 98% of OPAs go to Japan for work, where 95% are composed of women.

The 1990s and 2004 saw a huge increase in the number of Filipino women who were deployed abroad as OPAs. Although the figure declined in 1996 with the implementation of stricter laws after the commemoration of the Maricris Sioson case in 1991 and the Flor Contemplacion case in 1995, there was an increase in the number of OPA deployment in 1997. The deployment reached 74,000 in 2003, and about 71,000 in 2004.

It has long been accepted that women constitute the more vulnerable sector among OFWs. The Development Action for Women Network (DAWN) believes that women entertainers, particularly those who work in Japan, are more vulnerable to exploitation with the nature of their work.

With the increase of women working in Japan as entertainers in Japan, problems arose, including the issue of Japanese-Filipino Children (JFC). The burden suffered by some of the women who worked in Japan as entertainers is likewise borne by their children.

The Dawn of a New Day

Given such scenario, seven concerned individuals with different backgrounds but with a common passion for helping migrant women, met at a nun's residence in Quezon City to minister to the birth of a new organization that would serve the cause.

The six individuals are Aurora "Auring" Zambrano, an Immaculati Cordis Mariae (ICM) sister; Carmelita "Mel" Nuqui, who had extensive experience in helping women overseas workers; Pearl Domingo-Flores, a health worker; Julia Racquel Rimando, a Medical Doctor; Leonardo Morada, a pastor; and Corazon Valdez-Fabros, a lawyer.

Thus, on February 6, 1996, DAWN was registered with the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a non-stock, non-profit organization.

DAWN was set-up in 1996 to address the growing number and concerns of distressed Filipina migrants from Japan as well as the growing number of JFC abandoned by their Japanese fathers. Its aim is to protect and promote the rights and welfare of Filipina migrants and the JFC, help them regain and enhance their sense of dignity and self-worth, and reclaim their wholeness in the process of their reintegration into their families and the larger Philippine society.

Immediately after DAWN was set-up, Sr. Auring Zambrano and Ms. Mel Nuqui were invited for a series of meetings in Japan to explore possible areas of cooperation with different Japanese organizations.

During their trips, Sr. Auring says that she learned a lot about the problems of migrants in Japan. One of the biggest problems is the overstaying of women who continue to work despite the lack of proper visas. Sr. Auring also says that she is saddened by the fact that a lot of women "are forced to go into prostitution in order to remain in Japan and survive."

Other problems they noted were drug trafficking and addiction, divorce and complicated relationships with Japanese men or other Filipinos with families in the Philippines, wife battering and abandonment.

With all these problems and more, DAWN actively sought out partners who could assist them in helping these women, including their children, rebuild their lives. DAWN worked hand-in-hand with the Citizens' Network for Japanese-Filipino Children in Tokyo, the Asian Women Empowerment Project based in Kobe, the Japan International Center for the Rights of the Child of Osaka, the Lawyers for Japanese-Filipino Children based in Japan, the Kitami Maligaya in Hokkaido, JICHIRO, the Asia-Japan Women's Resource Center, and some Philippine-based organizations.

At the onset, DAWN had to rely on its Board members and incorporators for the implementation of its programs and services. Donations from Filipino and Japanese friends provided the initial funds for DAWN's programs. Volunteers also lend their hands in the running of the programs.

Among the first volunteers who provided support to DAWN is Ms. Agnes Mineko Hara, a retired Japanese teacher. She gave SIKHAY members Nihongo lessons twice a week. To this day, Ms. Hara has remained a staunch supporter and dedicated DAWN volunteer. She gives Nihongo lessons to JFC every Saturday, and also gives tutorials in mathematics.


A society where women and men share equal opportunities for a just and humane living, creating empowered and self-reliant families in communities where each one cares for one another in the spirit of peace based on justice; and where migration is an option that is respected and protected.


To live in hope with the Filipino people, especially with the returning distressed migrant women and their children, through programs and services that enable them and their families to regain and strengthen their sense of dignity and self-worth, reclaim their wholeness and attain total development.

Core Values

  • Dignity for all
  • Appreciation of Everyone Amidst Diversity
  • Women and Children Empowerment
  • Nobility of Purpose

Goals and Strategies



  1. To enhance the competencies of migrant women towards their active participation in building a self-sustaining community

A.1 Strengthen existing programs and services through expansion of clientele.

A.2 Strengthen referral system

A.3 Enhance programs and services such that these are adapted to the changing context of Migration and Development

  1. To provide skills training and alternative source of income to women migrant returnees

B.1 Enhance existing programs and services on Enterprise Development

  1. To generate a strong public support in calling for employment opportunities in the country and the protection of women against exploitation here and abroad;

C.1 Lobby for preventive policies/programs that will curb migration

C. 2 Employ different communication platform in pushing for advocacy.

  1. To educate the general public and women in particular about the plight of Filipino migrants;

D.1 Strengthen public education and advocacy work

D.2 Intensify human rights   advocacy thru optimization of Information Communication Technology (ICT)

  1. To ensure the sustainability and continuing improvement of the programs and services of DAWN.

E.1 Leverage track record and accreditation for resource generation

E.2 Develop and implement program and services with LGUs

E.3 Develop consulting services

E.4 Obtain donee status

E.5 Develop a continuing education program for the human resources of DAWN

E.6 Improve coordination and collaboration with other partners

E.7 Tap other sources of financial and non-financial support

E.8 Implement Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Next: Milestones
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