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Title of activity

Maternity Protection in Southeast Asia

Registering Organizer

Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC)

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About the Speakers and Moderators:

Donna Swita is Executive Director of the Institute of Women's Empowerment or IWE since 2019. She is a Feminist, working on human rights issues since 1998. And in 2006 she has been working on women's rights until now.
Institute of Women's Empowerment focuses on encouraging women's leadership in many sectors, one of which is women informal workers.

📷 Irene Xavier is a long-time activist in Malaysia and Asia. She has worked on women workers issues. She is the Founder of Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (Friends of Women - PSWS).
PSWS is a women workers’ organisation gives empowerment and leadership trainings on labour organising to women electronics, garment and agriculture workers, as well as home-based, domestic and contract cleaning workers so they can take up leadership positions in existing labour unions or organise new unions. In cooperation with women’s rights and labour organisations in Malaysia, PSWS also advocates for improved national legislation and implementation of existing laws on issues such as minimum wage, sexual harassment in the workplace and migrant workers’ rights.

📷 Rosalinda Pineda Ofreneo has been active in women's and workers' movements for half a century, working mainly with women in the informal economy. She is the advisory committee of Homenet Philippines, and is professor emerita at the University of the Philippines. Homenet Philippines is a broad coalition of organizaitons of home-based and other workers in the informal economy. It aims to consolidate and empower home=based workers, especially women, towards a common transformative agenda, have access to a comprehensive system of programs and services focusing on social protection, and gain more visibility, recognition and representation in decision-making bodies of government both at the local and national levels.

📷 Dr. Boonsom Namsomboon is Secretary General of Foundation for Labour and Employment Promotion (FLEP) or HomeNet-Thailand, Founder and Chairperson of Forward Foundation. She has more than 30 years of experience working for informal workers and conducted several research on social security, social protection, maternity, etc. She got a Master degree in Sociology and a Ph.D. in Gender and Development.
HomeNet Thailand (HNT) has its roots in the Home-based workers Network, established in 1992 and registered in 2013 as HomeNet Thailand Association, a membership-based organization (MBO) composed primarily of home-based workers with 5,000 members across Thailand. HNT aims at economic empowerment of home-based workers, improvement of occupational safety and health, law and policy advocacy and facilitation of access of informal workers to social protection.

📷 Mariana Anton is the Regional Policy Coordinator for Social Protection with Oxfam working in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Mariana is an international development professional with +8 years of progressive experience in program design, project management, public policy, linking and learning, coordination and resource mobilisation. She has worked in gender justice and women’s empowerment, labour rights and social protection, child protection and social inclusion of marginalised groups. In her current role, she supports Oxfam program teams and partners in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to design, implement and monitor evidence-based advocacy strategies on social protection for marginalised groups.
Mariana has a Masters in Development and International Cooperation from the Technical University of Lisbon.

📷 Ashley Saxby is a researcher based in Thailand. While originally from the US, she has been involved in the labour movement in Asia since 2014. She received her master’s degree in Labour, Social Movements and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (SOAS) and is currently the Southeast Asia coordinator for Asia Floor Wage Alliance.

📷 Suntaree H. Saeng-ging is Member of NGO Coordinating Committee on Development (NGO-COD), Coordinator of HomeNet and FLEP in the Northeast of Thailand, Coordinator of HomeNet Southeast Asia (HNSEA). HNSEA is the sub-regional network of national (country) networks of home-based workers, including the Artisans’ Association of Cambodia (AAC), Himpunan Wanita Pekerja Rumahan Indonesia – Association of the Indonesian Women Homeworkers (HWPRI) working closely with MWPRI (Homenet Indonesia) , Homenet Laos organized by the Non-Profit Association for Laos Development (NALD), HomeNet Philippines , and HomeNet Thailand. The empowered homeworkers realize their rights through the strengthening of their own organizations and networks, the improvement of their working and living conditions, the enjoyment of income and employment security, including social protection, and participation in governance related to homeworkers’ concerns.
Email : ;

📷 Mabel Au is currently director of the Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC).
AMRC is an independent non-governmental organisation (NGO) focusing on Asian labour concerns ( It works to support a democratic and independent labour movement in Asia, promoting the respect of labour rights, gender equality, and active workers’ participation in work-related issues, through participatory and empowering interventions like action research, capacity building, networking, and advocacy. Organising the marginalised for social protection is one among AMRC key programmes, in which, AMRC supports and works closely with Asian Roundtable on Social Protection (AROSP).

📷 Van Thi Thu Ha is currently coordinator of the Asian Roundtable on Social Protection (AROSP).
AROSP is a network focused on learning and mutual supports on the thematic issue of social protection for both formal and informal workers in 13 countries in Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam. As a regional network, it aims to support and consolidate the regional struggle for social protection for the poor across various sectors in Asia.

AROSP, IWE Indonesia, FLEP Thailand, PSWS Malaysia, HNPhil Philippines, Oxfam in Cambodia, HNSEA

Kindly note that the time dedicated to  self organized activities are  18th  third and fourth slot and 19th third and fourth slot.
18th, 19th, 20th first and second slots are focused on opening session and activities developed from the thematic focus groups  - and  20th third and fourth slot to agora of actions and closing moment. Info:  or see Menu info/ 3 days event

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Bahasa, Thai, Vietnamese, Khmer

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Summary of activity

Maternity protection including beyond birth, is especially important to ensure income security for pregnant women and mothers of new-born children and their families. An overall picture of maternity protection policies and practices especially during the Covid-19 pandemic in Southeast Asia will be provided in the webinar.

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Description of activity

In the most updated global picture provided by the ILO World Social Protection Report 2020-2022, as of 2020, still 53.1 percent – as many as 4.1 billion people – were left wholly unprotected. The population covered by at least one social protection benefit in Asia and the Pacific is 44.1 percent, compared to the global coverage of 46.9 percent. Only 18 percent of children enjoy effective access to social protection and 45.9 percent of mothers with new-borns receive a maternity benefit, compared to the global coverage of 26.4 percent of children, and 44.9 percent of mothers with new-borns, respectively.

The pandemic has exposed pronounced gaps in social protection coverage, comprehensiveness and adequacy across all countries. These have left many groups, including women, children and workers in different forms of employment and in the informal economy, very vulnerable. Two billion workers in the informal economy remain mostly without coverage. Insufficient access to sickness and unemployment benefits became especially apparent during the pandemic.

Less protected, at the same time, women face less income and employment opportunities due to unpaid care work and motherhood burdens. Unpaid care work and motherhood employment penalty widen gender gaps. Women perform 76.2 per cent of the total amount of unpaid care work, 3.2 times more time than men. Without exception, the amount of time dedicated by women to unpaid care work increases markedly with the presence of young children in the household. This results in what can be termed a “motherhood employment penalty”, which is found globally and consistently across regions for women living with young children. In 2018, mothers of children aged 0–5 years account for the lowest employment rates (47.6 per cent) compared not only with fathers (87.9 per cent) and non-fathers (78.2 per cent), but also with non-mothers of young children (54.4 per cent). Unpaid care work is one of the main obstacles to women moving into better quality jobs. Women with care responsibilities are also more likely to be self-employed and to work in the informal economy, and less likely to contribute to social security (ILO, 2018) .

Maternity protection including beyond birth, recorgnised by the international community, such as the ILO convention 183, when developed with a gender transformative lens is especially important to ensure income security for pregnant women and mothers of new-born children and their families, and effective access to quality maternal and child health care. It also promotes equality in employment and occupation and can also contribute to better redistribution of childcare responsibilities.

The international standards are good references for the countries to develop their own maternity protection policies and programs, however, they have been applied differently by countries and are mostly available for a small proportion of female workers who are working in the formal economy and covered under social insurance schemes. A large majority of women workers in the informal economy, including family workers and own-account workers, as well as women working informally or irregularly in the formal sector, will continue lacking effective access to income security during and after maternity. While most of maternity protection schemes, such as maternity leave, are mostly designed to protect working women during their pregnancy and recovery from childbirth, other schemes (e.g. mother and child grants, birth allowances, early childcare support, parental leave, etc.) are important to assist women in adapting to the arrival of a child and allow mothers finding a better balance between family, community and work responsibilities.

Contributing to an updated picture on maternity protection in Asia, and supporting the civil society and AROSP to develop their informative strategies promoting transformative social protection especially for women workers, the workshop will share findings on the status of maternity protection in several southeast Asian countries. Speakers include scholars and activists from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia.


Donna Swita Hardiani, Institute of Women’s Empowerment-IWE, Indonesia

Irene Xavier, Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS), Malaysia

Prof. Rosalinda Pineda Ofreneo, PhilU, Homenet Philippines, Philippines

Dr.Boonsom Namsomboon, Homenet Thailand, Thailand

Mariana Anton, Oxfam in Cambodia

Ashley Saxby, Researcher, South East Asia

Mabel Au, AMRC

Van Thi Thu Ha, AROSP

Moderator:Suntaree Saeng-ing, HomeNet Southeast Asia (HNSEA)

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