Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Human Rights
at home, abroad and on the way...


Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Human Rights
at home, abroad and on the way...

Events and News

The ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) and Summit

From 20-22 February GAATW-IS joined around 800 civil society representatives at the ASEAN People’s Forum to prepare for advocacy at the following weekend’s ASEAN Summit.

ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is playing a bigger role in the region for 2008 and 2009 since the 11-member countries decided last year to adopt a Charter for the first time in the body’s 42-year history. The Charter, which has security, economic and socio-cultural ‘pillars’, includes a commitment to developing an ASEAN Human Rights Body (AHRB). The ASEAN Governments have committed to a very fast process for the AHRB, with a decision on the terms of reference to be made in July and the AHRB to be operational by the end of 2009. Thus, over the past eight months civil society groups have been active in lobbying for an AHRB that has some measure of power, and for proper inclusion of women’s rights concerns.

The ASEAN People’s Forum brought together CSOs working on issues ranging from trade to environmental protection to migration to women’s rights. It was three days of wide-ranging discussions on the ASEAN charter and associated mechanisms, including the AHRB and the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers (the Migrant Workers’ Declaration).

Outside the main event, were a number of side meetings and conferences. GAATW participated in the Regional Consultation of the Women’s Caucus on the AHRB and the Solidarity for Asia People’s Advocacy (SAPA) Working Group on Migration and Labour to plan advocacy for the implementation of the Migrant Workers’ Declaration.

GAATW co-organised two workshops as part of the APF:

1. The application of the CEDAW framework in addressing the Rights of Women Migrant Workers in ASEAN countries

2. Strengthening regional action against discrimination towards migrant women of ASEAN nations.

The first workshop organised with IWRAW-AP and CARAM-Asia highlighted specific case studies of the abuse of women migrant workers rights, specifically those of a Burmese domestic worker named Aye who is working in Northern Thailand. She noted the lack of employment rights for domestic workers in ASEAN, including no paid day off (she arranged special leave to attend the panel) as well as the lack of family or social life, fear of violence and sexual violence, and the impact of such isolated and difficult working conditions on women’s psychological and physical health. The specific articles in CEDAW, General Recommendation 26 and certain mechanisms in ASEAN were then outlined as a means for women migrant workers rights to be recognised by ASEAN states.

The second workshop, co-organised with ActionAid and the Foundation for Women in Thailand, looked at multiple forms and sites of exploitation and discrimination experienced by women migrating for work and marriage.

Outcome summaries from each workshop were submitted to the organisers for compilation into one overarching statement for delivery to the ASEAN Summit the following weekend. The full text of this statement which was delivered to ASEAN heads of State on 28 February can be found here:

Important outcomes from the ASEAN summit and particularly the dialogue with civil society included that the ASEAN Chair, Thai Prime Minister Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, stated that women and children required a separate body to the AHRB to ensure that their needs are met. In saying this, he was referring to the proposed ASEAN Commission on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC); and that in the proposed Terms of Reference for the AHRB, the role for civil society was unfortunately relegated to that of educating and creating awareness amongst the public about human rights: the leaked ToRs can be found here:

Following on from this, GAATW-IS will continue to work with the SAPA WG on Migration and Labour and is now collaborating with IWRAW-AP and Caram Asia to hold a Roundtable on Using CEDAW to Protecting the Rights of Women Migrant Workers and Trafficked Women in South and Southeast Asia in May 2009 in Kuala Lumpur, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested in knowing more.

Strategic Thematic Direction

During 2011-13, through our Power in Migration and Work thematic programme, we engaged more directly with the migrant rights and labour rights movements. During 2014-2016 our work will build on the work of previous years; we will continue to push for a human rights based approach in anti-trafficking policies and practices.  We will also deepen our engagement with the issue of migration and labour.

The three thematic strategic issues outlined below are continuations of our work during 2011-13.

ACCOUNTABILITY Increasing the accountability of all anti-trafficking stakeholders involved in the design or implementation of anti-trafficking responses, towards the persons whose human rights they purport to protect.

ACCESS TO JUSTICE Broadening spaces for trafficked persons and migrant workers to practice their human rights by improving access to justice and combating all forms of discrimination that impact women’s ability to exercise their human rights as they relate to trafficking.

POWER IN MIGRATION AND WORK Centring an analysis of women’s power in their labour and migration to better assess migration and labour policies’ impact on women, and to work towards labour and migration processes that reflect migrants’ needs, aspirations and capabilities.