Women migrant workers

Mobile women and mobile phones: Women migrant workers’ use of information and communication technologies in ASEAN

The joint ILO-UN Women Safe and Fair Programme: Realizing women migrant workers’ rights and opportunities in the ASEAN region (part of the multi-year EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls) undertook a qualitative study involving potential and returned women migrant workers in four countries of origin in the ASEAN region – Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines. The study covers intra-ASEAN labour migration, including women who intended to migrate to, or had just returned from, Malaysia, Singapore, or Thailand. The study provides insight into women migrant workers’ use of mobile phones, and how women migrant workers could access more accurate information throughout the migration process and increase their connections with peers.

The study finds that most women migrant workers use their phone for social networking, and it highlights opportunities for governments, unions, employers, and civil society to harness women’s current use of social networking apps and mobile connectivity. Women migrant workers’ use of mobile phones can enhance migrant organizing, access to information on safe migration, and access to services, including in response to violence. The study finds however that the development of apps for smartphone use does not represent a panacea to the challenges that women migrant workers face. Not only are there numerous factors that impinge on women migrant workers’ access to and current capacity to use mobile technology, but also significant structural barriers exist in terms of governmental and non-governmental capacity and infrastructure to maintain, monitor, and meet women migrant workers’ needs, and to ensure safety through the use of any apps they establish.