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International Partnerships

Safe and Fair: Realising women migrant workers’ rights and opportunities in the ASEAN region

UN Women / Younghwa Choi

The project 'Safe and Fair: Realizing women migrant workers’ rights and opportunities in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region' is part of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls, a global, multi-year initiative between the EU and the United Nations (UN). The Safe and Fair programme is a 25 million euro investment implemented through a partnership between ILO and UN Women with the overriding objective of ensuring that labour migration is safe and fair for all women in the ASEAN region, namely: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.


  • Women migrant workers are better protected by gender-sensitive labour migration governance frameworks;
  • Women migrant workers are less vulnerable to violence and trafficking and benefit from coordinated responsive quality services;
  • Data, knowledge and attitudes on the rights and contributions of women migrant workers are improved.


  • Over 1 million people were reached through public campaigns on safe and fair migration. This is contributing to change the narrative around women migrant workers in the ASEAN region shifting negative perceptions and challenging deep-rooted gender stereotypes;
  • Over 5, 000 women migrant workers and their families received information on ending violence against women and safe migration;
  • 700 people were trained on gender-based violence, labour rights and safe migration. This included specialised trainings for more than 250 front-line service providers in Viet Nam, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand on how to handle women’s protection/trafficking issues in a coordinated manner;
  • In the ASEAN region, 2 innovative task forces linking violence against women, migration and trafficking were established to identify innovative solutions to tackle gender-based violence in context of labour migration;
  • Safe and Fair has enabled 120 key stakeholders from 9 ASEAN countries working on ending violence against women, anti-trafficking and migration to jointly elaborate policy recommendations on how to enhance service delivery targeting women migrant workers at national and regional level. By bringing together stakeholders working in different fields, the programme has enabled the development of a ground-breaking roadmap to make women’s experiences of migration as empowering and uplifting for women and their families in the ASEAN region.
  • Provided technical support to national authorities to develop gender-sensitive national plans ensuring that women migrant workers’ specific vulnerabilities are acknowledged and included as priorities.
  • For instance, in Malaysia, Safe and Fair led, on behalf of the UN Gender Results Group, the development of a strategy paper on SDG #5: “Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Violence against Women services by Migrant Workers in Malaysia” within the framework of the ongoing development of the 12th Malaysia plan.
  • In Cambodia, the Programme brought focused attention on specific needs of women migrant workers in the 3rd National Action Plan to prevent violence against women. Following Safe and Fair’s recommendations, two guiding principles linking violence against women and migration have been included and specific mention to violence against women migrant workers has been made.
  • Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Thailand and Viet Nam are currently developing and revising policies and regulations on safe and fair labour migration and gender-based violence;
  • Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam have initiated various research initiatives to support evidence-based policy making;
  • 176 persons from domestic worker organisations, migrant organisations, and government social services in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand have benefited from capacity building effort through the Safe and Fair Programme on developing gender analysis; organisational skills to run grassroots groups; paralegal skills; and leadership training as well as psychosocial counselling skills.
  • shelter support is being provided to Myanmar Muslim migrant women and trafficked persons in Thailand;
  • initiatives to support establishment/strengthening Migrant Worker Resource Centres have started in eight countries of implementation: Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

Expected impact

ILO and UN Women, in collaboration with UNODC, are currently implementing the Safe and Fair Programme in the ASEAN region to make labour migration governance more responsive to the needs of women, to reduce the risks of violence and trafficking of women migrant workers through improved access to information and well-coordinated gender-responsive services. The programme challenges pervasive stereotypes and victim blaming related to violence against women migrant workers through public campaigns and capacity-building activities targeting a range of duty bearers.

By 2022, the programme will make labour migration safer for women in the ASEAN region so that women migrant workers are able to exercise their agency.

Spotlight Initiative


Funding instrument

DCI - Migration and Asylum

Implementing organisations

UN Women and ILO in collaboration with UNODC

8 MARTIE 2022
Spotlight Brief: Mobile women and mobile phones - Women migrant workers’ use of information and communication technologies in ASEAN 2020
(1.75 MB - PDF)
8 MARTIE 2022
Research brief - Public attitudes towards migrant workers in Malaysia December 2020
(521.27 KB - PDF)
8 MARTIE 2022
Research Brief - Public attitudes towards migrant workers in Thailand December 2020
(557.54 KB - PDF)
8 MARTIE 2022
Research brief - Public attitudes towards migrant workers in Japan December 2020
(527.32 KB - PDF)
8 MARTIE 2022
Research brief - Public attitudes towards migrant workers in Singapore December 2020
(533.84 KB - PDF)