Policy Coherence for Development: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Labour Migration Governance in Myanmar

This paper provides an overview of the legal framework and actors involved in governing migration, gender equality, and women’s empowerment in Myanmar, and examines examples of gaps in the design and implementation phases of the policy cycle that affect women migrant workers in particular. Invisibility is a key issue: large numbers of women migrant workers, particularly domestic workers, are engaged in sectors that are not covered by labour law and migrate through irregular channels. At the same time, gender discrimination is not defined in Myanmar legislation, despite the presence of policy objectives to advance gender equality. This triple invisibility leaves women more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and less able to proactively achieve goals.

The paper includes a set of policy recommendations to strengthen and improve coordination between actors, to strengthen policy coherence and promote greater gender sensitivity in labour migration governance and more inclusion of women migrants in policies relating to women’s advancement. Although there are many causes for gender inequality and discrimination against women, women’s empowerment and the gender-equitable maximization of development benefits will require greater policy coherence in labour migration and gender policies, to ensure that women are empowered by law and policy to migrate safely and engage in decent work.