Call for South Asian co-operation to support women migrant workers


The Hindu Business Line

23 March

An increasing number of women from South Asia are migrating in search of better livelihood opportunities to support their families. A large number of them are employed in vulnerable jobs, such as nurses, domestic helps etc.

In 2010, about 6.45 million international female migrants were from South Asia, with the highest number from Nepal (68.2 per cent), followed by Sri Lanka and India at 49.8 per cent and 48.7 per cent, respectively.

Taking a serious view of the rising incidents of discrimination and exploitation of women migrants, an inter-governmental body, which met in Colombo recently, has called for stronger South Asian co-operation to support women migrants. It also called for an integrated response to cases of violence against women during migration – from departure, transit to return.

“For the first time, governments, private sector, international and civil society organisations from across South Asia and the Gulf region came together to find solutions to safeguard the rights of women migrant workers,” said a release by UN Women, which supported the cause.

The two-day ‘Regional Consultation on Safe Mobility of Women Migrants’ also called for better data to document and acknowledge the contributions of women migrant workers, as well as better and support services.

“In the last few years, the migration trend shows that women are becoming economic actors rather than dependent migrants. However, women often tolerate abusive working conditions to write-off the debt they may have incurred during migration,” said Sushma Kapoor, Deputy Representative, UN Women’s Office for Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Since migration is set to increase in the future, Ranjana Kale, Economic Advisor, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, said “International migration being a cross-border issue, the challenges faced by women migrant workers are best addressed through regional co-operation.”

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