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Women migrants in urban Myanmar are considered ‘outsiders’ by the local community and local authorities which can force them into living in dangerous, unsanitary and cramped conditions and taking on low-paid, exploitative and risky work. Fees must also be paid to employment brokers, which further strains women’s limited financial resources, keeping them in a cycle of poverty.
Women migrants are frequently exposed to other dangers, such as violence and are vulnerable to entering the sex industry due to financial pressures. Additionally, many women have limited access to sexual and reproductive health services, putting their health and well-being at risk.
This project focused on addressing social norms and attitudes related to sexual harassment against women. Over the time of the project, the number of women reporting that they have experienced sexual harassment decreased from 47% to 32%. Whilst this is still a high rate, it does demonstrate a shift in community attitudes and behaviours.
Migrant women’s access to sexual reproductive health and legal services increased dramatically by 70%. In addition, their access to top legal services increased by 60%.
Furthermore, there was a 20% reduction of migrant women reporting they had experienced gender based violence and sexual harassment. This reduction included a decrease in verbal, visual and physical harassment including workplace harassment.
Migrant women also received much greater social support. Up to 50% of women experienced greater social support in term of information about jobs, sexual reproductive health, gender based violence and legal services amongst themselves and the community. Six events were organized for 1,671 female migrant workers and the community to discuss the value and rights of women.
The ‘Safe Access for Migrant Women’ Project was successful in securing employment for nearly one-third (29%) of vocational training graduates and unemployed and unskilled migrants through on-line job placement services.
The rate of employment by women in the project increased from 59% to 89% across the project period. This means more women are earning an income, are able to make more financial decisions that can improve the lives of both themselves and their families, and for many women, this has meant an opportunity to establish a small business.
This project raised income by 93% for 141 women who received small business loans and has been successful in increasing access to legal and health services for migrant women during the life of the project.
There was an increase in women’s awareness of their rights relating to gender based violence and an increase in their skills and confidence and knowledge of the value of sexual and reproductive health services.
The high levels of community engagement and commitment to the issues of women’s rights and gender-based violence has led to the strengthening of advocating the rights of others.
CARE Myanmar has made strong partnerships with a range of providers.
These providers include; Marie Stopes International, Legal Clinic Myanmar, MJobs, and each of these partnerships have potentially increased the reach and impact of the ‘Safe Access for Migrant Women’ project.
Many of the project’s core messages have the potential to sustain beyond the projects outcomes as they have been incorporated into the core business structure of the Legal Clinic Myanmar.
A partnership with Marie Stopes International has established a network of services in the target area and secured independent donor funding to establish a network of services; such as township clinics and mobile outreach services.
CARE will continue to engage and strengthen local government and community groups, which will result in future investments. These investments will include awareness raising, knowledge and responses to gender based violence and will ensure sustainability will be achieved.
In our ward, “Daung Min” (Peacock King) group was formed for people who were interested in social work and in helping other people voluntarily. The only community work we did up until then was religious activities; ‘offering rice’ to monks collectively on Sabbath Day.
In 2014, this group got in touch with CARE Myanmar as they offered services for migrant women such as vocational training support, income generation grant, matriculation tuition fees, computer training, birth-spacing services and awareness raising on legal and gender based violence (GBV) in the community.
CARE also provided GBV awareness and a series of training in our community, especially for those who are active and have an interest in social work. As a result, we increasingly noticed that GBV is very common in our community and we have inspired to help our community to solve those issues.
CARE assisted us to understand gender, GBV concepts, law protecting the women, skill building to become paralegals, counselling support and case management support for GBV victims.
Other stakeholders have noticed our group as CARE created space for us to introduce our work at meeting/workshops. They acknowledged our work, started engaging with us by referring GBV cases, and supported us as necessary.
Daung Min, are very pleased to work for our community to reduce GBV.
We had made firm commitment to use the best of our efforts during our time to nurture the seeds sown by CARE and Daung Min for the positive future of our community.
The project’s success on addressing Gender Based Violence in the workplace and community has secured funding from other donors to existing locations. This will continue the work with the community and Government.