Southeast Asia • Philippines

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. 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 for a better future and income, one of the most frequent occupational fields is that of domestic workers. Especially 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: work in private households is largely unregulated and 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.

In order to improve the situation of migrants, we and our partner organization are working on different levels. Many measures are aimed directly at the communities: Residents are informed about the realities and processes of labour migration and local counselling centres are enabled to provide legal assistance and counselling for job seekers, migrant workers and their families.

At national and international level, the project lobbies 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 to be strengthened and implemented. International platforms need to become aware of the problem and react accordingly.

The project is carried out by our partner organization Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), founded in 2002 by Filipino migrants and legal experts on migration and human trafficking. CMA is committed to improving the economic, social and political conditions for Filipino migrants. Its activities range from political representation of interests and networking, research and the provision of information, to capacity building and direct aid. The aim of our project with CMA is to reduce the risk of exploitation and abuse for migrant domestic workers. With a national reach, the project covers the regions of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Project information

ProjectStrengthening the rights of domestic workers in migration
PartnerCenter for Migrant Advocacy (CMA)
Target group

elf-help organisations by and for migrants, grassroots groups, civil servants

  • Capacity building of local help desks for migrants
  • Strengthening and implementation of national guidelines
  • Advocacy at international level
Budget72.500 Euro p.a.

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