E.g., 03/22/2017
E.g., 03/22/2017

Women’s Labour Migration from Asia and the Pacific: Opportunities and Challenges

Policy Briefs
March 2015

Women’s Labour Migration from Asia and the Pacific: Opportunities and Challenges

The number of women migrants in many countries in the Asia-Pacific region is on the rise, both absolutely and proportionately: in 2013 women comprised nearly half (48 percent) of overall migrants to the region and 44 percent of migrants from the region, in line with global trends. Earlier it was thought that out-migration of women mostly takes place in the context of associational migration, including marriage, but a larger share of female migrant workers are now migrating on their own as a result of a variety of economic and cultural factors in both sending and receiving countries.

The gendered dimensions of migration both within and from the region have implications for migration flows and trends as well as for migrants themselves. The majority of female migrant workers in the region work in low-skilled, women-dominated occupations in the domestic, hospitality, health-care, and garment and entertainment sectors, and many skilled female professionals from the region must take up substandard employment due to skills mismatch and lack of recognition of their qualifications. With the Millennium Development Goals set to expire at the end of 2015, the formulation of the next development agenda offers a window of opportunity for better support of gender equality and women's empowerment across the developing world.

This Issue Brief, one in a series by MPI and the International Organization for Migration, looks at the trends and patterns in female labor migration in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the key policy challenges relating to female migration that governments in the region face. It also examines the significant financial and social impacts of female migrant workers and recommends best practices for policymakers looking to capitalize on these gains while supporting the rights and welfare of migrant women and their families. 

Table of Contents 

I. Trends and Patterns of Women's Migration in the Asia-Pacific Region

II. Factors that Influence Women's Labor Migration

III. Impact of Women's Labor Migration

1. Financial Impact

2. Social Impact

IV. The Legal and Policy Context

1. Policy Context in Countries of Origin

2. Legal and Policy Contexts in Destination Countries

3. Bilateral, Regional and International Mechanisms

V. Challenges Relating to Migration of Women

1. Pre-Migration Stage

2. In Transit

3. At Destination

4. Return and Reintegration

VI. Conclusion and Way Forward: Learning from Good Practices

1. Strategic Plans to Protect Women Migrants

2. Better Preparation of Migrant Workers

3. Improving Policy Environments in Labor-Receiving Countries

4. Increased Cooperation at Regional and Intra-Regional Levels

5. Improving Information, Knowledge and Evidence Base