Jordan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia & Philippines.
UNIFEM’s engagement with the issue of migration in the Asia-Pacific and the Arab region commenced with UNIFEM Delhi’s work in Srilanka in 1997. UNIFEM organized several roundtables with key stakeholder s emphasizing a gender and rights-based perspective, thus moving beyond a’ helpless victim needs protection approach’, that marked work with migrant women workers, including that by several bilateral agencies. At the request of one of these roundtables, a network of institutions working on women migrant workers was set up and UNIFEM was requested to support a Sri Lankan NGO CENWOR to conduct research on trends in women’s migration and to establish a documentation center that would facilitate the ongoing network in information sharing on women’s migration. UNIFEM was also requested to open up dialogue in receiving countries, i.e. Jordan as UNIFEM had a regional office there.
Following and building on this, UNIFEM Asia-Pacific and Arab States launched its Regional Programme on Empowering Women Migrant Workers in Asia. This Programme is also being implemented against a background of:
Increasing migration for work in the recent context of globalization.
Changing trends in overseas migration, a new feature being its feminization.
The recruitment of women primarily into lower skilled jobs in the informal manufacturing and service sectors as domestic workers, entertainers, cleaners, factory workers where they suffer gross human rights violation.
The qualitative difference in the migration experience of men and women, circumscribed by class, ethnic, nationality and gender inequities, with women suffering greater discrimination and bearing a heavier burden.
The Programme focuses on poor women migrating legally overseas, with a special focus on domestic workers.
The Programme seeks to empower women migrant workers from a gender and rights-based perspective. This will be done by helping create enabling policy, Institutional and socio-economic environments to ensure women equality of opportunity, access to resources and benefits at all stages of the migration process.
To promote gender responsive migration policies, legislation and programmes that further the realization of women’s rights
To strengthen the capacity of women migrant workers and their organization to access and claim their rights
To promote sustained policy dialogue between source and destination countries to empower migrant workers
To pilot innovative reintegration projects
Advocacy and capacity building
Promoting sustained dialogue and multi-stakeholder collaboration within and between source and destination countries;
Piloting innovative strategies; and Facilitating cross country and regional learnings.
Overall, the achievements of the UNIFEM Regional Programme on Empowering Women Migrant Workers in Asia conforms with the mission of the AGFUND by supporting sustainable human development for migrant workers, targeting one of the neediest groups in developing countries, particularly women, and facilitating cooperation among a wide variety of relevant organizations and institutions.