About Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA)

Conceived in 1990 in Hong Kong, Migrant Forum in Asia (“MFA”) was one of the first organizations focused on supporting and empowering domestic workers. MFA is guided by a vision of an alternative world system based on respect for human rights and dignity, social justice, and gender equity, particularly for migrant workers. MFA was formally established in 1994 and has since been a passionate advocate for domestic workers in Hong Kong and Singapore and for all migrant workers throughout the region. 

The foundation of the MFA as a migrants’ rights network was laid by women who continue to play various roles in the network. The rights of women migrant workers and gender dimensions of migration are core areas of work of MFA.  It was the high point in a process of consultations, meetings, communication and networking among a group of women human rights activists who were engaged in voluntarily serving migrant domestic workers in countries of destination particularly in Malaysia and Hong Kong that the MFA network was established in the 1990s. MFA members in Hong Kong worked with the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions to advocate for policy change for migrant workers. Some of the MFA members in Hong Kong are also unions and associations of migrant domestic workers.

In the years since, MFA has worked with the International Labor Organization and others to advocate for the ratification and implementation of the ILO Convention and Decent Work for Domestic Workers and implementation of standard contracts for domestic workers throughout Asia and the Middle East. MFA believes the recruitment process plays a key role in creating the vulnerabilities that migrant workers face. To educate interested parties and to facilitate reform campaigns, MFA created RecruitmentReform.org, a global platform that seeks to continuously update visitors on the abuses involved in migrant recruitment and the initiatives created to address those abuses.  MFA has long fought against illegal recruitment fees and is now among the conveners of the US-based Domestic Workers Justice Initiative campaign which seeks to require international finance executives to hire and employ migrant domestic workers in a fair and ethical manner.    

MFA believes educating domestic workers on their rights is a key to progress and has been involved in a number of related outreach initiatives.  For example, in partnership with Christian Aid and others, we launched the social media campaign #OurHands which informs domestic workers around the world of their rights as enshrined in ILO Convention 189 on “Decent Work for Domestic Workers.” MFA was co-creator of Lawyers Beyond Borders, a regional network of lawyers providing pro-bono representation exclusively to abused migrant workers seeking legal redress. While domestic workers have been a key focus for MFA, we advocate for all migrant workers in the region.  To that end, we have assembled a regional network of non-government organizations (NGOs), associations and trade unions of migrant workers, and individual advocates in Asia who are committed to protect and promote the rights and welfare of all migrant workers, not just domestic workers. MFA believes it is one of the largest and longest running organizations of its kind with over 52 members in 18 countries. 

Joining forces with like-minded groups has vastly increased our collective leverage in discussions with governments and international bodies.  As part of the Open Working Group on Labour Migration & Recruitment, MFA’s international-level efforts include:

  • Advocacy at the International Labour Conference        
  • Engaging UN Special Mandate Holders
  • Advocacy at the UN Human Rights Council
  • Advocacy at the Global Forum on Migration & Development
  • Advocacy in Regional Consultative Processes
  • Support for the campaign to ratify the ILO’s Forced Labour Protocol

Domestic Workers Justice Initiative: Working with institutional investors to keep their supply chains trafficking free.


© Domestic Workers Justice Initiative

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