Safe and Fair: Realizing women migrant workers' rights and opportunities in the ASEAN region
Women migrant workers are significantly contributing to the economies of the countries they work in, and send significant amounts of money home, but the positive experiences and contributions of women migrant workers can only be fully ensured if their labour and human rights are fully protected. Efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women in the ASEAN region are growing, and at the same time, much more needs to be done.
Women have fewer options than men for regular migration, and are often employed in lower paid informal sectors, with few if any labour protections. Poverty, discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, immigration status and unequal access to education and information are compounding factors contributing to women migrant workers' vulnerabilities to violence, trafficking and labour exploitation.
Whether migrating through regular or irregular channels, women can face the risk of violence from intermediaries and employers, as well as from partners and others. Yet, despite their vulnerabilities and the fact that some have survived human trafficking, there are many barriers to access essential services such as health care, legal, justice, police and social services, even when they are legally working in the country.
With the overall aim of achieving labour migration that is safe and fair for all women in the ASEAN region, the "Safe and Fair" programme will strengthen rights-based and gender-responsive approaches to labour migration governance, address women migrant workers' vulnerabilities to violence and trafficking, and support access to essential services for women migrants who experienced abuse. It will increase the capacity of front-line service providers to respond to the needs of women migrant workers who experienced violence and trafficking. This new programme aims to produce evidence and use data, new technologies and communication to improve the information and access to assistance for migrant women. The programme will also provide skills training opportunities for migrant women and support the establishment of skills recognition frameworks.
The programme will target countries of origin and destination across the ASEAN region, working with women migrant workers, ASEAN Member States' government authorities, ASEAN institutions, and worker, employer, civil society and community-based organizations. This programme fully integrates the principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of "leaving no one behind" by focusing on women migrant workers. It is informed by and will contribute to the 2030 Agenda which emphasizes the importance of gender equality and the empowerment of women of Goal 5, and decent work and economic growth of Goal 8.