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RIse of the "Feminized Sector" in Southeast Asia

Governments in some countries in Asia are turning to immigrant labor to meet the needs of their aging populations. According to Noviscape, traditionally, migrant labor in the region was predominantly male, "the supply has increased due to farm mechanization and the lack of available jobs in their home countries. As a result, large numbers of young rural women have been forced out of their home villages to take unskilled or low-skilled work in cities in their own countries, or overseas."

"Unlike male migrants, however, the vast majority of women migrants tend to be employed in the so-called ‘feminized sectors’ such as domestic work, caregiving and entertainment that tend to be low-paid and have low-status, signaling their inferior status in the global labor market."

"In Southeast Asia, Brunei Darussalam and Singapore are major labor importers of both skilled and unskilled labor migrants, although Malaysia also has a large presence of unskilled migrant workers. Major labor exporters include the Philippines (both skilled and unskilled labor) while Indonesia exports mainly unskilled labor."


"While to some extent, securing wage work abroad reflects women’s emancipation and empowerment—a phenomenon which would have never occurred in the past as males were seen to be the breadwinners in the family—for the most part, many of these women migrants continue to be subjected to a range of abuse because of the lack of effective legal mechanisms to protect their rights as workers or the lack of enforcement of relevant laws protecting their rights."

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