Reclaiming Migrant Women’s Narratives: A Feminist Participatory Action Research project on ‘Safe and Fair’ Migration in Asia

4 Sep 2019 23:09:01

This report is the result of a two-year project through which the International Secretariat of the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW-IS), in collaboration with eleven organisations across nine countries in Asia, carried out a Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) on “Safe and Fair Migration: A feminist perspective on women’s rights to mobility and work”.

Our research community stretched across South, Southeast, and West Asia offering views from both countries of origin and destination, as well as adding the perspective of internal migration from rural to urban areas. Three distinct sectors of work are covered in this study: the domestic work sector, the garment sector, and the entertainment sector. The lead research groups who facilitated the discussions with women migrants were: Anti-Racism Movement (Lebanon), Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (Cambodia), International Domestic Workers Federation (Lebanon), Karmojibi Nari (Bangladesh), Legal Resources Center for Gender Justice and Human Rights (Indonesia), MAP Foundation (Thailand), Sandigan (Kuwait), Self Employed Women’s Association (India), Society for Labour and Development (India), Women Forum for Women in Nepal (Nepal), and an independent researcher based in Jordan.

The report shows that Safe and Fair migration cannot happen in a silo – the factors that produce gender segregated labour markets, industries dependent on flexible, underpaid and overworked migrant labour require a systemic change. This change can happen at the grassroots level, through self-organised groups of women (migrant) workers.

Overall there is a need for critical conversations about serious limitations of safe migration policies and governance mechanisms in the context of a labour market scenario is which capital and power are increasingly being taken away from workers and placed into the hands of a few, under the thumb of repressive regimes.

Given the indications we have about the nature of the future of the work, such as increasing automation, technological advances that enable greater atomisation, monitoring and (remote) control of workers, it is likely that “safe and fair” migration and work will be transformed in the coming years and decades in unpredictable ways. It is necessary to continue researching the issue and adapting our advocacy strategies.

The increasing reliance on migrants in certain labour sectors risks further dividing societies and fostering xenophobia, racism and anti-migrant sentiments and causing Western governments to place more restrictions on migration. The safety and fairness of migration risk being even more constrained under such pressures. It is necessary not only to highlight the positive impact of migrants on the economies of destination countries, and to counter false claims about migrants as perpetrating crime and draining the social system, but also more generally, to promote the human rights framework and the fact that all human beings are equal and deserve to be treated fairly.

Download the complete report here.