Movement and Labour

This thematic, previously called Right to Safe and Secure Mobility, was initiated in 2010, with a focus on challenging the traditional rescue-rehabilitation-repatriation model of the anti-trafficking discourse, through rights-based interventions that amplify the voices and decisions of women. Our partners have also consistently challenged the conflation of trafficking and sex work. SAWF recognises sex work as work, and trafficking as a violation of broader rights to mobility, and safe movement, and labour rights violations faced by migrant people, regardless of the state of their documentation.

Under this thematic, SAWF has supported initiatives across the region that challenge restrictive and protectionist views about women and trans* people’s right to move freely and safely, to access better life opportunities, and to engage in work of their choosing without stigma, violence and exploitation. Over the last six years, the thematic has expanded to encompass a range of complex issues under the framework of right to mobility, such as labour rights for a multiplicity of informal and stigmatised labour groups; organising and unionisation; access, information and infrastructure; de-stigmatisation and de-criminalization of certain types of labour; informed and secure migration etc. We have also supported numerous constituencies under this thematic, such as migrant and returnee migrants, women with disabilities, sex workers, domestic workers, and workers in the garment factories, estate sector and coal mines.

Building on these learnings, this thematic has been renamed Movement and Labour, to better reflect the work being supported through it. Grants given under this thematic support interventions that challenge existing socio-cultural norms and notions that consider women and trans* people as powerless victims, and promotes rights-based approaches which center their agency and autonomy in decisions regarding their movement and/or labour. 

 Some of the key strategies and activities SAWF supports under this thematic are:

  • Building feminist perspectives and understanding around movement, mobility and labour
  • Strengthening decision-making capacities and leadership of women
  • Enabling women in the unorganised labour sector such as domestic workers and sex-workers to come together to claim their rights
  • Supporting spaces for discussion, exchange and learning at local, national and regional levels