UN Women to launch research publication on the state of migrant domestic workers in Thailand and Malaysia entitled, “Worker, Helper, Auntie, Maid?”



Launch of UN Women’s research publication entitled, Worker, helper, auntie, maid?: Working conditions and attitudes experienced by migrant domestic workers in Thailand and Malaysia


20 December 2016 from 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Main auditorium of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science
13th (12 A) floor


With domestic work being increasingly taken over by migrants, domestic workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia are finally finding their way into the private households in Thailand and Malaysia. These housekeepers, nannies and caregivers are often caught between immigration law and employment law and excluded from labour rights and protections.

Approximately 73.4 per cent of all migrant domestic workers are women. Asia and the Pacific is home to the largest percentage of domestic workers, at over 40 per cent of the global total. The region also hosts the largest share of women migrant domestic workers, at 24 per cent of the global total.

In Thailand, of the 250,000 migrant domestic workers from Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Viet Nam, many are unregistered and without a work permit. Consequently, they are vulnerable to exploitative and unfair conditions. Despite media coverage of labour abuses, a multitude of cases go unreported.

“Worker, Helper, Auntie and Maid?” attempts to create a clearer picture of the underlying factors influencing the lived employment experiences of migrant domestic workers in Thailand and Malaysia. The publication focuses on the links between the working conditions as described by migrant domestic workers, and attitudes to migrant and domestic workers as expressed in the media and by employers.

The report has come up with eye-opening facts. Both Thailand and Malaysia are important destinations for migrant domestic workers. In these two countries, they are excluded from labour protection and rights. In Thailand, the employment conditions of the domestic workers are mainly governed through labour laws. But in Malaysia, immigration law is the principle instrument of governance, with labour law as a secondary focus.

Up to 90 per cent of migrant domestic workers in both countries are paid below the minimum wage. Worse, the media have contributed to creating a hostile environment for migrant workers by painting the negative images of the migrant workers.

Short animation film for the "Worker, helper, auntie, maid?" publication will be also premiered at the event

The publication proposes that laws and policies regulating migrant domestic workers’ employment experiences be brought in line with relevant international standards, including ILP Convention No 189. Employers and the public need to be educated more broadly about the rights and contributions of migrant domestic workers, emphasising that treating someone as “part of the family” should include respecting their human and labour rights.

For media enquiries

Please contact:

Khun Montira Narkvichien
Regional Communications Specialist
E-mail [ Click to reveal ]

Khun Sukanya Thongthumrong
National Project Officer – Migration
Tel: +662 288 1383
E-mail [ Click to reveal ]

UN Women, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
5/F UN Building, Rajdamnern Nok Avenue
Bangkok 10200, Thailand.