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CARAM eNews - October 2007
Stand Up for FDWs


Spirits are high and the engine has been ignited for a regional campaign pushing for a day off per week for Foreign Domestic Workers (FWDs). CARAM Asia’s Regional Training of Trainers on the FDW Campaign Toolkit successfully strengthened the resolution of 23 activists to further advance the rights of FDWs. The activists from regional and international human rights organisations and 11 of CARAM Asia’s members met in Chiang Mai, from 26 to 28 August 2007.

Participants felt that the training had empowered them to share skills and knowledge gained with staffs of their organisations. The training’s substance jived with their expectations. There was lively sharing of participant’s activism, experiences and struggles for FDWs’ rights. The wealth of knowledge from experienced trainers on advocacy, lobbying, human rights, and training techniques made the training constructive and participatory for everyone.

Empowered from the experience of this training, participants vowed to embark on a-day-off campaign for FDWs in their respective countries. They will advocate for the recognition of domestic work as work and have a follow up consultation in August 2008. They want to combine forces with labour unions, national labour groups and women’s groups in the campaign. Participants unanimously agreed to have coordinated programmes on Labour Day, 2008 in their respective countries. Immediately after the training, they will proceed to translate the FDW campaign toolkit into seven different languages. Upon completion of translation, national level activities will kick start the campaign. Participating organisations will also be conducting national level trainings with FDWs.

Outsourcing Policy Rears It’s Ugly Head


 The absence of a coherent policy on the recruitment of migrant workers in Malaysia, and a constant shift in policies, have now landed thousands of Bangladeshi workers abandoned and stranded without basic human needs and jobs.

This recent development comes about due to a new policy called outsourcing. As its name suggests, this policy was established with the aim of outsourcing labour recruitment away from employers. Bangladesh was made the test country and if successful others would be introduced to this as well.

Many of the workers had paid between RM6,000 to RM12,000 to recruiting agents, outsourcing companies and their accomplices. In the last few months, the brunt of this outsourcing mess came to light after over a hundred workers went on hunger strike in front of their own high commission appealing for intervention from their government. Read more ...

Click here to read statement by Tenaganita.


Consultation with UNSR on VAW

CARAM Asia presented and participated in the (APWLD) Annual Consultation with the United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on Violence against Women (VAW), Dr Yakin Eturk. The consultation from 12 to 13 September held in Manila, Philippines revolved around the theme of International Political Economy (IPE) of Human Rights (HR).CARAM Asia Secretariat presented issues concerning gender, migration and HIV and its impact on women in the context of IPE. MAP made a presentation on the Right to Work and Rights at Work which laid out the labour issues and human rights perspectives of non-citizen women (namely the Burmese refugees in Thailand).

CARAM Asia’s participation was aimed to:

1) Shed light on rampant human rights violations including health rights and violence against migrant women in view of the IPE paradigm.

2) Introduce the HIV vulnerabilities of migrant women and women left behind throughout the migration process.

3) Ensure that issues of migrant women are reflected in the 2009 UNSR on VAW report on IPE and VAW to the UN Human Rights Council.

During the consultation, migration was identified by the UNSR on VAW as one of the key outcomes of IPE and it will remain as one of the most challenging and contentious issues in the analysis of IPE and VAW.  The UNSR on VAW conveyed great interest in analysing the migration of women in the context of IPE and VAW. The UNSR, who is a strong advocate for women’s rights at the UN level has selected IPE as the theme for her 2009 report to the UN Human Rights Commission. Thus providing us another international platform for civil society for intervention. Click for the UNSR report earlier this year.

Tribute to Migrants Who Built Malaysia


Any migrant or refugee who had to leave their country and is treated like 2nd class citizens in receiving countries would appreciate recognition for their labour in receiving countries. The invitation by Malaysian NGOs for migrant workers and refugees to celebrate Malaysia’s independence was just that. The organisers for the 50:44 10-day celebration wanted a celebration with the people who built the nation. The migrant’s and refugee’s day on 8 September was marked as a tribute to the mobile communities.

On this special occasion, migrant workers and refugees dressed up in tradition costumes that they otherwise would not dare to wear in a foreign country for fear of being alienated. They enthusiastically took the opportunity to showcase their culture with singing and dancing performances. CARAM Asia, as a regional organisation based in Malaysia supported the event by extending its human resources in celebrating a Malaysian nation built hand in hand with its migrant and refugee communities. The event celebrates 50 years of Malaya’s independence or 44 years of independence after the inclusion of two more states, Sabah and Sarawak 6 years later.


ITPC: Missing the Target #4

Global AIDS treatment efforts will fall far short of the G8 goal to reach five million Africans and provide global universal access to AIDS drugs in the next few years unless the pace of treatment scale up accelerates and the effort expands to address key barriers. This is according to a new report released by The International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), a group of more than 1,000 treatment activists from over 125 countries.

The new Missing the Target report, the fourth in a series, provides a 17-country overview of AIDS treatment successes and setbacks and offers an in-depth review of treatment delivery in six countries not covered in the group’s previous reports. The six countries are Cambodia, China, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Missing the Target research teams found that while increasing numbers of people are receiving treatment, future scale up is threatened by serious challenges: marginalised people, rural populations and children often do not have equitable access to care; support services that make treatment possible, such as nutrition and transportation, are commonly not available; HIV prevention, 2nd line AIDS drugs, and TB services are generally not integrated into treatment; stigma remains a powerful barrier in all countries; and, often, what is called “free” treatment is actually unaffordable for many people living with HIV/AIDS. Read


CEDAW & Human Rights Programming

Promoting universal respect for human rights has been one of the fundamental goals of the United Nations (UN) since its creation. A more recent development, with great potential for further enhancing the impact of these human rights standards on the ground, is the adoption of the human rights-based approach (HRBA) to programming by UN agencies and programmes. Especially over the past decade, the UN system's commitment to the HRBA has intensified, and the principle that development cooperation should further the realisation of human rights has now gained wide acceptance. At the same time, the UN is tackling the challenge of fully translating this commitment into concrete, operational programming terms.

This publication is a practical guide to the human rights-based approach to programming for UNIFEM staff as well as partners, with a particular focus on the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Starting with an overview of why it is important to understand gender equality as a human rights issue, the guide explains the "UN Common Understanding of the human-rights-based approach" and how this is reflected in UNIFEM's Multi-Year Funding Framework (MYFF). It discusses the concrete implications for programming in applying the HRBA and highlights requirements of human rights-based programming in the context of Results-Based Management, a central concept in the work of UN development agencies. The publication also provides detailed background information on CEDAW and other human rights treaties, including links to key documents. Download the publication here.


Indonesian Women's SRHR
Despite some progress in the development of laws, policies and programmes that provide sexual and reproductive health and rights in Indonesia, access to affordable and comprehensive services remains limited, especially for vulnerable groups such as poor, rural and marginalised women. To implement monitoring of the ICPD in Indonesia, Indonesian NGOs set up focal point groups (FPGs) in seven major cities to monitor progress on reproductive health and rights. The FPGs worked under the umbrella of the Indonesian Reproductive Health & Rights Monitoring and Advocacy (IRRMA) Project, initiated by The Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW). This publication is the compilation of six studies conducted by the FPGs on the progress of laws, policies and programmes in Indonesia as a part of the country's commitment to the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). It specifically addresses such topics as maternal mortality, abortion, violence against women and girls, adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights, women and HIV/AIDS, and the emerging impact of decentraliscation on health systems. Read