Safe and Fair project

Realizing women migrant workers’ rights in ASEAN region – main outcomes

At an InfoPoint organized by the European Commission, the ILO presented key results of the Safe and Fair project, which is part of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative and implemented across ten countries in Southeast Asia.

News | 05 December 2023
BRUSSELS (ILO News) – The EU-funded project ‘Safe and Fair: Realizing women migrant workers’ rights and opportunities in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region' addresses gender-responsive labour migration, violence against women and trafficking. After six years, it now approaches the end. The ILO presented some of the main outcomes of the action at an InfoPoint, organized by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships.

Around five million migrants in Southeast Asia are women. Migrant women and children are more vulnerable to violence and harassment, and to labour exploitation and trafficking. The project sought to ensure that labour migration is safe and fair for all women in the region.

The ILO and UN Women implemented the project in collaboration with UNODC, and addressed several gaps in gender-responsive migration governance and in national legal and policy frameworks. These include inadequate social protection floors and occupational safety and health safeguards, a lack of sex-disaggregated data, limited cross-border recognition of skills, negative stereotypes and exploitative working conditions in specific sectors, such as domestic work.

Safe and Fair has improved national laws and policies on labour migration and violence against women, by building the capacity of national government actors, including the Ministries of Labour, Justice, and Health, and sub-national migration actors. More than 420,000 women migrant workers and their families in ASEAN have benefitted from better access to information and services related to safe migration and ending violence against women.

The project has enhanced women migrant workers’ voice and leadership, by improving data (54% of the data are now sex-disaggregated), providing them with certified vocational training (1,133 women were trained) and encouraging their right to association and collective bargaining.

In Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, a domestic workers association, a transnational union and a workers’ group were created, respectively. Furthermore, the project has produced evidence and tools on the vulnerabilities faced by migrant women workers, including 140 innovative knowledge products, such as financial literacy training tools.

Building on the lessons learned and committed to scale up the impact of the project, the EU will fund a new project entitled Ensuring decent work and reducing vulnerabilities for women and children in the context of labour migration in Southeast Asia (PROTECT).

PROTECT will focus on strengthening institutional capacity, regional prevention and protection mechanisms, and on increasing migrant women’s and children’s access to social and legal services and counselling. The project will also seek to prevent human trafficking and address the inadequacy of child protection services. The ILO will jointly implement this project with UN Women, UNODC and UNICEF.

The EU-UN Spotlight Initiative seeks to end all forms of violence against women and girls. It focuses in particular on domestic and gender-based violence, trafficking and sexual and economic exploitation. A global knowledge exchange platform, SHINE was created as part of the initiative to encourage discussion and knowledge exchange to address gender-based violence.