International Migrants Day: Demanding Protection for Foreign Domestic Workers and All Women Migrants
December 18, 2012: As we observe the 12th year of the International Migrants Day, the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) commemorates the gains made in the region for all migrant workers, refugees, displaced peoples and their families, while also reaffirming her solidarity with its network and international partners in the continuing struggles for the recognition, protection and fulfillment of the rights of women migrant workers, especially domestic workers.
Feminisation of Migration
Women migrant workers account for more than half of the 50 million migrant workers in Asia alone. And domestic labour account for nearly one third of all female employment in Asia Pacific. Since domestic work is received as an extension of housework, it is seen as least valued in the region and thus, women domestic workers are excluded from the current development framework and are marginalised in terms of salary, benefits and protection.
Migrant Workers’ Rights, Human Rights
The essence of labour migration challenge the traditional labour laws and raise the question of whether should the same national laws and protection mechanism be extended to foreign workers. But human rights of migrant workers should not derive from nationality and cross-border nature of their labour, but from their humanity. This universality is established under international laws and standards promulgated by the United Nations (UN), International Labour Organisation (ILO), World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international and regional bodies. States are responsible for protecting the human rights of migrants, whether the migrants are citizens or foreign workers, passing through the country in transit to another location or expecting to reside within the country for employment.
Resistance Against Migration for Development Paradigm that do not benefit migrant workers
On this day of migrant workers, APWLD
- express concerns on labour-export policy that commodify migrant workers as exchange for those who profit from labour migration;
- calls for the region-wide ratification of ILO’s Convention on Domestic Work (C189) along with other relevant international human rights instruments such as International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights (ICSECR); and
- subsequent national legislative reforms and implementation to recognise domestic work as work, protect and ensure the fundamental labour rights and entitlements, such as the right to decent work with living wage as the indicator for the development of all migrant workers, including foreign domestic workers and women migrants in the post-2015 MDG/development framework.
Genuine development can only be achieved when states begin to take accountability and responsibility in ensuring the human rights and fundamental freedoms, including protecting, guaranteeing and fulfilling labour rights.
For information on APWLD’s work in building movement and claiming rights to get domestic work recognised work as work in Asia Pacific, please click here.
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