EU, ILO and UN Women join hands to end violence against women migrant workers in ASEAN/Myanmar

The European Union (EU), International Labour Organization (ILO) and UN Women are organizing a national Consultative Dialogue to discuss with key stakeholders women migrant workers’ rights and opportunities.

Press release | 30 August 2018
Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar (ILO & UN Women News) – Today, EU, ILO and UN Women are organizing a national Consultative Dialogue on women migrant workers’ rights and opportunities. The consultation will introduce the new ILO and UN Women “Safe and Fair” Programme to key partners and identify activities which could be undertaken in Myanmar building on the on-going efforts by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Settlement to promote safe and fair migration practices, including to promote the labor rights and end violence against migrant women.

Photo: ILO/Phyo Maung
Government authorities, embassies, labour organizations, overseas employment agencies, community-based organizations, INGOs and UN agencies will elaborate a shared roadmap that will inspire the work in Myanmar over the next five years. The meeting will ensure that the project aligns with country and ASEAN level priorities, and international legal frameworks on migration, anti- trafficking, ending violence against women, and promoting women’s rights. This national Consultative Dialogue is part of a series of ten national consultations being held in each ASEAN country.

Women migrant workers are contributing to the development and economies of both the country they work in and Myanmar, including sending significant amounts of money home and bringing back skills and contacts The Myanmar 2014 Population Census through backward projection methods, estimated that a total of 4.25 million persons (nearly 20% of the Myanmar labour force) were living abroad. Women make up nearly half the migrants in Thailand, China and Japan and just over half in Singapore. Women work as domestic workers, factory workers, sex workers and in agriculture and construction. According to the World Bank's Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016, Myanmar migrants remitted US$3.5 billion to Myanmar in 2015, nearly five per cent of the country's gross domestic product.

Myanmar women continue to migrate for livelihood reasons, and migration can be a positive experience, in which they gain skills, find meaningful employment, and gain more opportunities for themselves and their families. Through migration, women can inform and change social, cultural, political and gender norms and can influence positive change across households and communities. Yet, some women migrants find that they cannot access legal and social support when they face problems. They can also suffer from discrimination - both as migrants, and as women - which can result in isolation, unfair working conditions, or abuse and exploitation.

Women migrant workers can face sexual, physical, psychological and economic violence- at home before migration, during migration, and upon return. 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. Women who are in an irregular situation and women working as domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, violence, forced labour and trafficking due to their status and isolation. Fear of being deported, reluctance to report abuses to legal authorities, language and cultural barriers are among the obstacles, women who have experienced violence face, when accessing services such as health care, justice, police or social services.

The positive experiences and contributions of women migrant workers can only be fully ensured if their safety, labour and human rights are fully protected and migration becomes a safe and fair process for them.

Safe and Fair’s objectives

“Safe and Fair: Realizing women migrant workers’ rights and opportunities in the ASEAN region”, is part of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. The programme’s main objective is to achieve safe and fair labour migration for all women in the ASEAN region by addressing women migrant workers’ vulnerabilities, enhancing their access to essential services and strengthening rights-based and gender-responsive approaches to violence against women and migration governance. The Safe and Fair programme provides a unique opportunity to ensure that labour migration policies are gender-sensitive, and that there are laws, institutions and programmes in place to eliminate violence against migrant women. The programme supports organizing and networking among migrant women, and is committed to working with a wide range of national partners. Funded by the EU, with a budget of EUR 25 million, the programme will be implemented through a UN Women and ILO partnership. The programme will run for five years, starting 2018, and focus on ASEAN countries.

For further information, please contact:

ILO Myanmar

Jacqueline Pollock (English language)
Chief Technical Advisor, Migration Projects
ILO Liaison Office in Myanmar

Hkun Sa Mun Htoi (Myanmar language)
National Project Coordinator, Migration
ILO Liaison Office in Myanmar
Email :

UN Women Myanmar

Ms. Phyo Thu Nandar Aung (Myanmar language)
Programme Manager SAFE and FAIR

Montira Narkvichien (English language)
Regional Communications Specialist
UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific