The Breaking out of Marginalisation Programme recognises that Rural, Indigenous and Migrant (RIM) women across Asia Pacific are among the poorest and most marginalised in society. Rural and indigenous women’s lives and livelihoods are threatened by climate change events, environmental degradation, militarisation, ethnic and religious discrimination and economic policies that make small scale subsistence farming unsustainable. Women displaced from their lands are more likely to end up in low paid, unregulated work and are especially at risk of being trafficked. Domestic work is the largest driver of labour migration in the region for disenfranchised women seeking economic survival and migrant domestic workers face heightened vulnerability and lack of access to their rights. Across Asia Pacific, domestic work is recognised as an extension of household chores and due to this invisibility of work, governments fail to extend to domestic workers the rights and benefits other workers enjoy.
Women are affected more severely and are more at risk from natural disasters and extreme weather events, including during post-disaster response efforts. Women’s exclusion from decision-making and limited access to and control over resources impedes their rights, and in the case of climate change, means that women’s voices are absent from decisions about environmental management, climate change adaptation and mitigation, with long-term consequences for the wellbeing of women, their families and the sustainability of their communities. It is therefore important to articulate rural and indigenous women’s critical role and capacity in the nurturing of a sustainable ecological system.
Current development policies promote resource intensive-practices that have led to rural, indigenous, and migrant women in Asia and the Pacific living in the most precarious environments, being rendered homeless, and often forcibly evicted from their homes and land. Further, unsafe household and industrial waste contaminate land and living environments, waterways and cause oceanic pollution. In homes, countries, and across the region, women’s rights and autonomy over their bodies and life decisions are violated, especially due to fundamentalisms and ethnic and religious discrimination, which continue to escalate in the context of an unsustainable, inequitable global economic system.
To challenge these inequalities, strong movements of rural, indigenous and migrant women are needed. In 2013, the Breaking Out of Marginalisation-Rural and Indigenous Women (BOOM-RIW) programme sought changes through Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) for Change, which focuses on:
- – Building the capacity, sustainability and skills of marginalised women’s organisations to document evidence and engage in advocacy to bring about change;
- – Supporting advocacy at local, national and international level to advocate for their rights to access and control over resources, decent work and living wage, peace and security and voice;
- – Building and fostering local movements of rural indigenous women in advocating for their rights.