European Union External Action

"Safe & Fair" working conditions: EU invests €25 million to counter exploitation, abuse, violence and trafficking of women migrant workers in Southeast Asia

05/09/2018 - 13:24
News

The global EU – UN "Spotlight Initiative" to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls launched its first programme in Southeast Asia: "Safe & Fair" is a €25 million (MMK 41.36 billion) project funded by the European Union that will allow the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UN Women to work with governments in all ASEAN countries for better protection mechanisms and wide ranging information campaigns for women migrant workers.

The global EU – UN "Spotlight Initiative" to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls launched its first programme in Southeast Asia: "Safe & Fair" is a €25 million (MMK 41.36 billion) project funded by the European Union that will allow the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UN Women to work with governments in all ASEAN countries for better protection mechanisms and wide ranging information campaigns for women migrant workers.

The programme now also reached Myanmar, starting with a first consultation conference with government representatives, law makers, workers' and employers' organisations, civil society and international experts. The event in Nay Pyi Taw on 30 August 2018 brought together all relevant actors who need to be involved to put in place effective protection mechanisms for women migrant workers.

"Across Southeast Asia, women are increasingly on the move to find decent work that will allow them to create a better life and support their families. Their remittances make huge economic contributions to their families and communities back home," said EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt welcoming the participants at the Nay Pyi Taw consultation. "But while we know that migration is often an empowering experience for women migrants, they also often have to face exploitation, abuse, violence and trafficking. This Spotlight programme will help achieve save and fair labour migration for women in the ASEAN region."

The Myanmar 2014 Population Census 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.

Read the full speech of EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt here:

Background

Violence against women and girls is one of the greatest obstacles to gender equality and the fulfilment of women's and girls' human rights, as well as to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It occurs worldwide, cutting across all generations, nationalities, communities and spheres of society.

Around a third of all women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. Furthermore, women and girls account for more than 70% of all victims of human trafficking detected globally.

To end these severe human rights violations, in September 2017 a major EU-UN Joint "Spotlight Initiative" worth €500 million was launched to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls worldwide.

The "Safe and Fair" programme, launched in Bangkok in cooperation with UN Women and the International Labour Organization, is now the first action under the "Spotlight Initiative" in Asia.

According to estimates, of the 20.2 million migrants globally that originate from ASEAN, 10 million are women. The "Safe and Fair" programme aims to improve the legal, policy and institutional frameworks in the ASEAN region, ensure better access to information and quality services and thus empower female migrant workers, making them less vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking and abuse.

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