Flowers, Fale, Fanua and Fa'a Polynesia - APMRN Working Paper 8||
How to improve the conditions of female labour migrants in Southeast Asia?
1. A better protection regime and more efficient social safety nets should be developed to assist vulnerable female migrants. Concrete actions that could be taken are, for example:
- a. the provision of dormitories for commuting domestic helpers to prevent harassment at home by male employers;
- b. the establishment of easy access hotlines and shelter homes for female workers who have difficulties with employers;
- c. the provision of legal advisors to assist migrant women with work contracts and legal status problems;
- d. the encouragement of family reunion schemes to partly subsidize annual or bi-annual travel costs of female migrants to their family in the country of origin;
- e. the provision of reproductive health and mental health care services to migrant women in the countries of destination, including contraceptive services and HIV/AIDS and STD intervention programmes; and,
- f. rehabilitation programmes to be set up for the migrant's families while they are abroad, for example in remittance management or care-giving.
2. A gender-sensitive reintegration programme should be established to absorb returned women into the economic and social life in countries of origin with:
- a. skill development training programmes to assist women to work in accordance with their acquired skills, individual interests and local labour market viability;
- b. the provision of small loans for female returnees who want to start a business;
- c. family rehabilitation programmes for returned women, their husbands, children and other members of their family;
- d. availability of social workers or counsellors to assist returnees who have social and psychological troubles; and
- e. public recruitment services for those who want to re-migrate to prevent undocumented migration.
3. A public awareness campaign should be conducted, highlighting the possible vulnerability of female international labour migrants as well as the types of work which the sending government wishes to encourage its migrating nationals to be employed in. Such an information campaign would aim to prevent grassroots level irregular migration. The use of electronic communication could benefit prospective female migrants as well as those who are abroad, the former for information-sharing and the latter for communicating with their families in the country of origin.
4. A database of returned migrants should be developed, which includes their basic characteristics and monitors their development after return.
5. Research studies should be conducted to elucidate such issues as: the mental health of returnees (or other social costs of migration); the causes of migrant women's reintegration success and failure in various occupations; the sustainability and viability of such work; and the efficacy of existing reintegration programmes.
6. Women's networking through information sharing and self-help interest groups should be encouraged, to raise public awareness with regard to the economic imperatives which force women to move abroad for work so frequently.
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