Needs of women migrant workers discussed at first joint Asean meeting

Economy December 15, 2017 11:23

By The Nation

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Asean agencies across sectors have joined forces to improve the protection of women migrant workers in crisis situations.

Four Asean sectoral bodies overseeing women’s and children’s rights, migrant workers, and disaster management, met for the first time in Manila on Friday to discuss the particular challenges facing women migrant workers in crisis situations.

Women migrant workers are often the most vulnerable to crises, and have the least access to support services and tools in their host countries, said a press release on Friday.

Migrant women workers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) face widespread discrimination and abuse, yet are often cut off from the mechanisms and services that could support them. Better intersectoral coordination is needed to protect women migrants and meet their needs.

The need for intersectoral dialogue and research was the focus of the Manila meeting. Participants discussed the findings of a scoping study that pinpointed the particular actions needed to protect and empower women migrant workers, particularly during crisis or disaster situations.

“We need to ensure that all migrant workers can count on the protection of their basic economic, social, cultural and civil rights,” said Anna-Karin Jatfors, deputy regional director of UN Women Asia and the Pacific.

“This includes access to essential services such as education and justice, as well as health services including sexual and reproductive health. And in times of crisis, this means access in particular to effective legal and emergency health services.

“Only when women have this level of agency can they unlock the potential of migrant work to improve their economic and social circumstances, bringing benefits to their families back home, and to the host communities where they live and work,” said Jatfors.

The meeting brought together representatives from four relevant Asean sectoral bodies: the Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children; the Committee on Women; the Committee on Migrant Workers; and the Committee on Disaster Management.

They met in the Philippine capital to discuss the findings of the scoping study, and to identify possible next steps to remove some of the barriers that women migrant workers run into when trying to access support mechanisms and tools, especially during crises. The research also examined the various difficulties facing women migrants at each stage of their migration journey.