Making Informed Decisions: Working with women in source communities at the pre-migration and pre-decision-making stage

Duration: January - December 2016

Location: Bangladesh, India and Nepal 

Beneficiaries: Women and girls before they have decided to migrate

What is this project about?

Since June 2014, GAATW-IS, in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and local NGO partners, has been working with women and girls in selected source communities of Bangladesh, India and Nepal to support them in making informed decisions about their labour migration. GAATW believes that working with women before they have made their migration decisions is an extremely important and essential step in reducing exploitation. This is a step that should happen before trying to influence the structured pre-departure programmes already on-going in Bangladesh and Nepal. GAATW is aiming to enhance the capacity of community workers who interact with migrating women in source districts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

What are we going to do?

  • Organise country/district-level trainings for staff of NGO partners in Bangladesh;
  • Conduct field visits to all project areas in Nepal;
  • Organise a conceptual clarity session in an all-partners meeting in Nepal;
  • Conduct a second training for peer workers in Nepal;
  • Organise an Information festival for migrating workers in Chennai, India;
  • Organise a preliminary meeting with partners and a second training in Bangladesh;
  • Conduct an IEC workshop for partners in India;
  • Collect feedback, prepare and publish a Community Workers' Handbook on Women, Work and Migration.

Project Partners (Members and Non-Members): Bangladesh: ACD, BOMSA, OKUP, WARBE; India: APDWWT (AP Domestic Workers Welfare Trust); NDWM Tamil Nadu; Nepal: ABC-Nepal, People’s Forum, Pourakhi, WOREC.

Funding Support: ILO Department for International Development. 


Towards Empowerment: Working with women and girls in India

Duration: January - December 2016

Location: Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh states, India

Beneficiaries: Women and girls before they have migrated or have decided to migrate

What is this project about?

The tribal communities of Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh are migrating to other parts of the country – mainly to cities – in search of work.  Many people see the cities as places of opportunities and freedom.

Unfortunately, when people from these communities migrate, they become subject to exploitation, abuse and poor working conditions. Much of this migration is distress or forced migration resulting from policy failure of the state.

Our project aims to understand the complexities around interstate labour migration, especially female labour migration, in India. We want to critique and speak out against forced or distress migration. We also want to support young women and girls in making informed and well-considered decisions regarding their in-country migration for work.

Rather than trying to stop or promote migration, we would like to focus on three basic human rights in our work with women and young girls in the communities: Right to Health, Right to Education and Right to Information.

We will not only provide information on these topics to women and girls, but also encourage them to question and seek out information for themselves. We want to help girls stay in school, but also enjoy learning and get advice on work and migration.  The health component will provide them with knowledge about their bodies, on hygiene , nutrition, preventive health care and traditional medicines.

What are we going to do?

The project is a pilot and we hope to develop it further in future. In 2015, we will implement the following main activities:

  • One-on-one discussion between GAATW-IS and partners;
  • Planning meeting with all partners and GAATW-IS and finalisation of work plans;
  • Situational analysis of project sites by partners;
  • Support visit and training by GAATW-IS (part-time staff based in India);
  • Review meeting and completion of report.

Project Partners (GAATW Members and Non-Members): Institute for Social Development - Odisha, Shramajivi Mahila Samity-Jharkhand, Jashpur Jan Vikas Sanstha-Gholeng, Jeevan Jharna Vikas Sanstha-Jashpur, Chetana Child and Women Welfare Society-Chhatishgarh

Funding Support: Caritas-France 


Supporting Migrant Domestic Workers in Destination Countries

Duration: July - December 2016

Location: Bangladesh, Hong Kong and Lebanon

Beneficiaries: Women migrant domestic workers

What is this project about?

The need for organising among migrant domestic workers cannot be overstated. However, most countries do not allow domestic workers even one day off in the week or to let them go out, let alone encourage them to organise. In the few countries in the Asian region, such as Hong Kong, where migrant domestic workers are able to organise, it has been noted that they are able to advocate for their own rights. In the Middle Eastern region only Lebanon offers some opportunities to women migrant domestic workers to organise. Despite this, there are not many migrant domestic workers groups in the country. Among the South Asian women workers, Nepali women have come together as Nari, which is the result of the support work of KAFA and Anti-Slavery International. On a scoping trip to Beirut in early 2013, we observed that many of the Bangladeshi domestic workers we met did not have any opportunities to organise. The short film called 'Migrant Workers, Standing Together', which we made in 2013, clearly shows that women have found support from each other. GAATW’s experience shows that it would be worth making a sincere effort to form an organisation of Bangladeshi domestic workers in Lebanon, along the lines of Nari. However, this will take much preparation and time. Careful, cautious steps will have to be taken.

We would like to take some action steps towards this by linking up organisations in Bangladesh (OKUP), Lebanon (KAFA) and Hong Kong to facilitate knowledge exchange on the topic of organising. Noting that currently there is not much women’s organising at grassroots level happening in Bangladesh and Bangladeshi women have not shown much inclination to use drop-in centres in Beirut, we plan to arrange an internship for an OKUP staff member with an organisation in Hong Kong that has a lot of experience in organising women workers. Following that, two colleagues from OKUP and a GAATW-IS staff will visit Lebanon and assess the conditions for organising. If feasible, with permission of the employers, a small meeting between a few workers and KAFA will be organised. If all goes well, two female staff members from OKUP will spend some time with KAFA in 2016 to help them organise the Bangladeshi workers.

What are we going to do?

Create a detailed work plan with the project partner in Bangladesh and colleagues in Lebanon;
Organise an internship of an OKUP staff member in Hong Kong;
Conduct a scoping visit to Lebanon together with OKUP. 

Project Partners: OKUP-Bangladesh and KAFA-Lebanon

Funding support: Swiss Development Agency Cooperation