The Philippines is one of the world’s largest archipelago nations with a rich diversity of people groups and a history that combines Asian, European, and American influences. Although the Philippines has experienced greater economic growth than some of its neighboring countries, poverty remains widespread in the Philippines, which is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. There are also significant social inequalities, which have their greatest impact on indigenous people groups, fishermen, women, and the informal sector.
In 2018, Love Forward launched its program by partnering with three clusters of organizations in the Philippines that referred students to its program. In the Metro Manila Cluster in Luzon, students were referred by the National Council of Social Development (NCSD), a network of about 160 social services organizations. In the central region of Cebu and Bohol, students were referred through Arms of Love Philippines and the Bohol Crisis Intervention Center, a government agency that provides temporary residential care for sexually abused girls. Our third cluster is in Davao and is led by ChildHope Mindanao. Students from all three regions are being sponsored by Love Forward.
Love Forward is focusing its future efforts on partnering with women's crisis centers in other provinces, including Cebu and Davao, which are currently lacking transition programs. Continuing education and other aftercare is a critical need for women leaving such residential care programs, so they can realize their ambitions in life and avoid being pulled back into potentially abusive and exploitative situations.
The Philippines ranks near the bottom one-third of countries in overall gender inequality, due to a low rate of labor force participation and a lack of productive employment opportunities for women. Violence against women also remains one of the country’s most pervasive social problems. An academic article published in 2018 recognized the Philippines as having one of the highest number of cases of violence against women, with financial dependency, unemployment, poverty, lack of educational attainment, and a patriarchal culture all contributing to the problem. The Philippines also remains an international hub for prostitution and commercial sex tourism, further contributing to the risk factors that impact the students we serve.