UN Women-ILO project: ‘Preventing the exploitation of women migrant workers in ASEAN’

A UN Women and ILO collaboration to enhance the benefits of labour migration in the ASEAN region through improved protection of women migrant workers

Labour migration makes a substantial contribution to the economic vitality of South-East Asia. There are an estimated 9.5 million international migrants in ASEAN, with women making up 48 per cent. When successful, labour migration can be a catalyst for increasing prosperity not only for the individual who migrates, but also for their family, community and the country of origin and destination. However, women migrant workers in the region experience multiple and intersecting discriminations (stemming from sex, race, ethnicity, class, nationality, age and other bias), which severely undermine their human rights as well as their economic and social contributions to development, and the gains they stand to make from migration for employment. Women are disproportionately represented in vulnerable areas of employment, such as domestic and care work, entertainment, and the sex industry. Vulnerability is increased by inadequate regulation of recruitment and labour conditions for migrant workers, in particular a lack of gender sensitive policies and legislation in ASEAN.

With the support of the Australian Government, UN Women will be executing a project on ‘Preventing the Exploitation of Women Migrant Workers in ASEAN’. The ILO will be an implementing partner for several outputs under the project, centered on increasing policy- and decision-makers’ access to gender-sensitive evidence and knowledge; capacity building of recruitment agencies and government regulatory bodies; and social mobilization to improve public awareness and actions against abuse and exploitation. The development and implementation of the project will be informed by and undertaken in close partnership with relevant ASEAN bodies, governments, social partners, and regional and national CSOs. The project builds upon the dynamic ILO labour migration programme in South-East Asia, in particular the work of the Australian Government and Canadian Government-supported GMS TRIANGLE project and ASEAN TRIANGLE project.


  1. Improved availability and access to gender-sensitive evidence and knowledge to prevent exploitation of women migrant workers and promote their rights
  2. ASEAN institutions effectively advocate for greater cross-border collaboration to prevent and eliminate exploitation of women migrant workers based on evidence and international norms and standards
  3. Effective social mobilization to improve public awareness and actions against abuse and exploitation of women migrant workers in ASEAN