Work in Freedom, Phase II - Fair recruitment and decent work for women migrant workers in South Asia and the Middle East

The Work in Freedom is an integrated programme to support mobility by choice among women and girls from countries of origin (India, Bangladesh and Nepal) to decent jobs with safety and dignity of workers in destination countries (India, Lebanon and Jordan) through fair recruitment processes.

Project background

In South Asia and Middle East, women’s occupations have traditionally tended to be ascribed to the world of subsistence and reproductive care. Women’s work, whether undertaken within or outside of households, has tended to be unrecognized, unpaid or lowly remunerated. It also often carries negative social stigma when it is outside of the household. While women in South Asia seeking paid work have traditionally been employed in agriculture work (ILO, 2016), in both South Asia and Arab States, the largest emerging sectors of paid work include the care sector and the garment and textiles sector. Both of these highly gender segregated types of occupations often require some sort of dislocation where women workers are required to travel some distance away from their homes after which their mobility tends to be constrained around the workplace. Challenges persist with regard to ensuring better working conditions for women workers; accountability of recruitment for decent work and gender sensitive approaches to social protection, mobility and labour.

Project objective

The overall aim of the programme is to reduce vulnerability to trafficking and forced labour of women and girls across migration pathways leading to the care sector and textiles, clothing, leather and footwear industries of South Asia and Arab States.

The programme will address key drivers and vulnerabilities of human trafficking, such as (a) gender and other forms of discrimination, distress migration and poor working and living conditions, through an integrated prevention strategy of: (1) targeted social protection and empowerment; (2) fair recruitment practices; and (3) and evidence based policy advocacy for decent work options.

Implementing partners

Ministries of Labour, Ministries of Expatriate/Overseas Affairs and other relevant government partners; worker organizations, including the International Trade Union Confederation and sector-specific affiliates; employer organizations including International Organization of Employers; International Employment Confederation; and UN agencies.

Target beneficiaries

The project will contribute towards bringing about a sustained situation where women and girls in South Asia and Arab States are less vulnerable to trafficking and forced labour in emerging sectors of migrant employment. At least 250,000 women and girls will be reached at source and destination in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon and Jordan and policy changes, if implemented by State actors, could impact the lives of up to one million women.

For further information, please contact:

Neha Wadhawan
National Project Coordinator