Regional Planning Meeting for Promoting ASEAN Women Migrant Workers’ Rights through Organizing

Meeting's objectives

  • Identify key challenges for women migrant workers in joining trade unions to protect their rights, in terms of legal frameworks, union institutional capacity and migrant workers’ competencies;
  • Put forward good practice and showcase strategies of organizing experienced by trade unions, migrant associations, and informal sector labour organizations:
    -Improve opportunities for women migrant workers to organise at the regional, national and local levels,
    -Increase membership of migrant workers (particularly women) in labour organisations, and
    -Increase representation of women in decision making positions in labour and migrant organisations.
  • Facilitate networking between trade unions and CSOs.


Women are increasingly migrating for work within the ASEAN region, and today women make up 47.8 per cent of migrant workers between ages of 20 and 64 in ASEAN.[1] While women migrant workers are disproportionately represented in the domestic work and care sectors, women migrant workers are also found in large numbers in other sectors in ASEAN countries, including construction, agriculture, manufacturing, services, home-based work and entertainment. However, women have fewer options than men for regular migration, and are often channelled into lower paid informal sector work with few if any labour protections and opportunities for organizing.

One of the most effective ways of preventing the exploitation of migrant workers, including women and those in informal sectors, is by guaranteeing the right to join trade unions in destination countries. There are lower levels of labour exploitation, child labour, trafficking, and forced labour found in industries with strong trade union representation.[2] ‘Organising is an entry point to increase new members of trade unions, address their concerns, provide better access to education and training, and eventually enable them to bargain collectively to improve working conditions, remuneration and benefits.