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Southeast AsiaPhilippines

Strengthening the rights of domestic workers in migration

About 10 percent of the Philippine population live and work abroad as migrants. This is mainly due to poverty and a lack of income opportunities in the country. Many women work as domestic helpers, where they are often exposed to abuse and exploitation. Together with our partner organization Center for Migrant Advocacy, we work to protect migrant domestic workers and their rights.

The CMA team at a case conference. (Photo: AWO International)
The CMA team at a case conference. (Photo: AWO International)

Among the approximately 10 million Filipino migrant women who have left their home to seek better socio-economic opportunities abroad, one of the most frequent occupational fields is that of a domestic worker. This is especially true for women without higher educational qualifications it offers a chance for a sufficient livelihood for themselves and their families.  

However, the risks for domestic workers are particularly high - as work in private households are largely unregulated. This makes them vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse and exploitative working conditions. There is a fine line between labour migration and human trafficking. It is therefore crucial that people who migrate are sufficiently informed and aware of their rights. Only those who are informed about the legal migration process can identify and report illegal recruiters and human trafficking at an early stage. Access to government advice and assistance must also be facilitated.

To improve the situation of these migrants, AWO International is working with Center for Migrant Advocacy Philippines (CMA) – which is a local organization set up in 2002 by a group of current and former Philippine migrants in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, United States, and the Netherlands together with migrant and human rights advocates. CMA commits itself to improving the economic, social, and political conditions for Filipino migrants. Its activities range from political representation of interests, networking, research, and the provision of information, to capacity-building and direct aid.

This project aims for an impact wherein the vulnerability to exploitation and abuse of migrant workers and their families is reduced. The project has a nationwide scope, working with select provinces, municipalities, and barangays throughout Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. We aim to lobby for migrant domestic workers so that their problems and needs are heard and addressed. National guidelines, laws, and regulations for the protection of domestic workers in migration and their families are also intended to be strengthened and properly implemented.


Project Building Rights-Based and Resilient Communities for Migrant Workers and their Families
Place/Region Quezon City, National Capital Region; La Union Province; Nueva Ecija Province Laguna Province; Bicol region: Provinces of Albay, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur; West Visayas: Provinces of Negros Occidental, Guimaras, Iloilo and Capiz; Central Visayas Province
Partner Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA)
Target group Self-help organisations led by and made for migrants; grassroots groups; civil servants
  • Ensuring that programs and services for migrant workers and their families are being properly implemented – specifically policies on safe migration, protection of families left-behind, reintegration programs for returning migrants, etc.
  • Mainstreaming the agenda of migration and development into policy circles
  • Strengthening and broadening CMAs’s advocacy network to ensure and garner support for migrants and their families
Duration 2021-2023
Budget 72.500 Euro p.a.
Sponsor BMZ


A group therapy by our partner organisation Talikala for girls who have been victims of sexual abuse. (Photo: AWO International)
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[Translate to Englisch:] Um Alternativen zu schaffen und Einkommensquellen zu kreieren, lernen die Migrant*innen die Produktion eigener Produkte (Foto: Carlos Cano/ AWO International)
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