Transnational Migration, Gender, and Rights: Advocacy and Activism in the Malaysian Context

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Title Transnational Migration, Gender, and Rights: Advocacy and Activism in the Malaysian Context
Author Elias, Juanita
Journal Name International Migration
Editor Elzbieta M Gozdziak
Year Published 2010
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Abstract This paper explores the intersection between gender and migration through an analysis of the advocacy strategies undertaken by Malaysian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and trade unions on behalf of female transnational migrant workers. In particular, the paper looks at the different ways in which local NGOs and trade unions have engaged with the so-called “rights-based approach” to migration that has been emphasized by transnational NGOs and key intergovernmental organizations – in particular the International Labour Organization (ILO). The paper suggests that despite the widespread feminization of migration in the region, the rights-based approach has tended to employ a gender-blind perspective on migration. It is only in the arena of activism around the rights of migrant domestic workers (an overwhelmingly feminized sector) that gender issues are brought to the fore of the migrant rights debate. The appropriation of rights-talk by activists organizing on behalf of migrant domestic workers does indicate that the language of human rights can be employed strategically in ways that place the concerns of women workers at their centre. However, there are significant limitations posed by the employment of a human rights “master frame” by pro-migrant worker activists. These limitations include: the continued association between rights and gender-blind universal (labour) standards; the linkage between rights and “public sphere” activities outside of the household realm; and the problematic relationship between universal notions of human rights and particularistic notions of citizenship under conditions of political authoritarianism.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Alternative URI
Volume 48
Issue Number 6
Page from 44
Page to 71
ISSN 0020-7985
Date Accessioned 2010-11-25
Language en_AU
Faculty Griffith Business School
Subject Government and Politics of Asia and the Pacific
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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