Domestic work remains one of the key occupations for many female migrants in Southeast Asia. As a low-skilled, low-wage job with often inadequate legal protection, domestic work is an occupation that has the potential to leave women employed in this industry open to exploitation, abuse and discrimination. In response to the general vulnerability of domestic workers, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) put forward a series of recommendations to protect these workers in the Domestic Workers Convention (no. 189) in 2011. This policy brief stems from our working paper on Indonesian domestic workers in Singapore (Platt et al. 2013) and examines the costs and benefits of domestic work, particularly as a livelihood strategy. The migration regime in Southeast Asia facilitates women’s migration from their source countries to industrialized economies. The costs of migration include debts and fees, prolonged displacement from family members as well as a lack of transparency in recruitment processes. However, women’s migration also facilitated productive and livelihood-enhancing uses of remittances, including contributing to children’s education, investing in land, housing, health and enterprise.
Platt, M.; Baey, G.; Khoo Choon Yen. The costs and benefits of domestic work as a livelihood strategy. Asia Research Institute, Singapore (2014) 4 pp.