From Socialist Voice, October 2006

Facts about our world

Child workers

Despite a decline in both the child population and the number of economically active children, the International Labour Organisation estimates that Asia has the largest number of child workers in the 5–14 age group—some 122 million.

Millions leave home in search of work

One of the greatest migrations of labour in history is under way in Asia. Almost 3 million people in the region are leaving their home every year in search of work, a new report says. Over the past two decades the gross emigration of labour rose at an annual rate of 6 per cent in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.
     Another new trend is that the region itself is absorbing an increasing proportion of these workers. Between 1995 and 2000 between 2 and 3 million Asian migrant workers—both registered and undocumented—left home to work abroad, while an estimated 40 per cent of them went to other Asia-Pacific countries. In Singapore migrants now account for 28 per cent of the labour force, in Malaysia an estimated 12 per cent.

Feminisation of labour migration

The global trend towards the feminisation of labour migration is most evident in Asia. Female migrants from the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka make up 60–80 per cent of all migrants. South Asian women are increasingly moving to work, still mostly to the Middle East but now also to Malaysia, Hongkong, Mauritius, and the Maldives.
     Women migrant workers still head towards a very limited number of female-dominated occupations, mainly domestic work and the “entertainment industry.”
     Workers’ remittances to countries of the region have been larger than official development assistance. It is estimated that Asian migrants sent home a combined remittance income of more than $40 billion in 2003. In 2004 the Philippines received some $8 billion, and India a massive $23 billion.

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