European Union External Action

EU protecting the rights and safety of women migrant workers in South East Asia

09/07/2018 - 10:54
News stories

According to estimates, 10 million of the 20.2 million migrants globally that originate from ASEAN are women, with fewer options for women for regular migration. Women are in high numbers in domestic and care work – but also in construction, manufacturing, agriculture and services. Labour and migration frameworks tend to be gender-blind while high rates of physical and sexual violence against women in the ASEAN region are recorded. Violence acts as both a push and pull factor for women migrants. Women are particularly vulnerable to violence and trafficking throughout the migration cycle.

With a European Union (EU) financial support of over €25 million, the programme "Safe and Fair" will contribute to improving the labour migration conditions for women in the ASEAN region. Together with UN Women and the International Labour Organization, the EU will work with governments, community-based organisations, civil society and service providers to improve labour laws, access to information and services, and ultimately prevent and put an end to violence and trafficking of women and girls.

Started in January 2018 and lasting five years, the Safe and Fair Programme aims at improving data and knowledge on the rights and contributions of women migrant workers. Through targeted awareness raising campaigns, the programme will actively promote the change in attitudes of relevant stakeholders to ensure safety, well-being and fair treatment of women migrant workers in the region.

In the Philippines, particular attention will be put on access to improved services and information for migrant women inside and outside the Philippines.

This programme is part of the new EU-UN "Spotlight Initiative" to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls worth €500 million. "Our Spotlight Initiative is a movement without precedent in the global fight to end violence against women and girls", Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica commented. "With Safe and Fair programme we want to empower female migrant workers in the ASEAN region so that they become less vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking, violence and abuse. Through our €25 million contribution, and in cooperation with our international and local partners, we are investing in a brighter future that fully respects and protects all women and girls."

As the next step, the EU and the UN will identify additional programmes and beneficiary countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific, where the Spotlight Initiative will also be implemented. New programmes will be developed based on what is needed most to protect and empower women and girls in each region.

For more information on the Spotlight Initiative: