Domestic work and labour migration play a critical role in women’s economic empowerment, and in sustainable development worldwide. With often limited economic opportunities at home, labour migration provides a pathway for women to access the world of work. In 2015, more than 3 million South Asian women travelled to the Middle East, the majority in search of employment in the domestic work sector.
When subject to robust governance frameworks which are rights-based, accessible, affordable, inclusive and gender-responsive, labour migration can lead to significant benefits to individual women, their families and communities, and to sustainable development in countries of origin and destination. Despite increasing attention on maximizing the benefits of labour migration, including for women, addressing the specific needs and situations of women migrant workers is still a work in progress.
Translating policies into real-world protections means ensuring women migrant workers are protected by accessible, rights-based and gender-responsive employment contracts and recruitment procedures. Women migrant domestic workers often work under inconsistent protections, based on their country of origin, their means of recruitment, and other variables, and therefore face unique challenges in realizing their rights to equality, non-discrimination and freedom from exploitation, abuse and trafficking. For established international standards to be realized, they must be reflected in real-world contracts that are effective across corridors through national, bilateral and multilateral mechanisms.
UN Women has developed Empowering Women Migrant Workers from South Asia: Toolkit for Gender-Responsive Employment and Recruitment. The Toolkit provides comprehensive guidance on ensuring the protection and promotion of the rights of women migrant workers throughout the labour migration cycle. The Toolkit includes a policy brief series that describes the process of establishing national, bilateral and regional policy protections. The Gender-responsive Guidance on Employment Contracts supports relevant stakeholders to ensure these policies and protections are reflected in employment contracts. The Gender-responsive Self-assessment Tool for Recruitment Agencies provides recruiters with information on how to protect and promote the rights of women migrant workers in practice, throughout the migration cycle.
For the full policy brief, please click here.
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