Gender Dynamics of Regional Migration from Thailand to East Asia
Table of Contents
In recent decades, women across the globe have made positive strides toward gender equality . Literacy rates for young women and girls are higher than ever before, while gender gaps in primary education have closed in almost all countries. In the past three decades, over half a billion women have joined the world’s labour force.World Bank (2011) The gender dynamics of Thai migrant labourers across four countries in East Asia with strong economic performance, namely Chinese Taipei , Japan , Gender Equality in South Korea and China , will be explored in the sections below. These destination countries have been chosen because they are popular among Thai people who are seeking improved economic opportunities and higher wages.
Figure 1: Destination for Thai Labour in 2012
Thailand Overseas Employment Administrationhttp://whereisthailand.info/2013/05/thai-labor-demographic/….
Table 1 : The number of Thai workers who have been permitted work in 2012
Thailand Overseas Employment Administrationhttp://www.overseas.doe.go.th/summary…/2_3_2555.pdf.
Thai people started migrating to Chinese Taipei during the late 1980s, and today this trend has only increased. 70% of Thai labourers who are dispersed throughout Taiwan currently work in industrial factories, while the remaining 30% work in the construction sector. Men make up 84.34% of this figure, while women represent just 15.66%. Of those Thai female migrant workers, all work in industrial factories.
Figure 2 : Net Migration Rate in Taiwan
Japan’s economic growth during the 1980s resulted in increased employment opportunities, and the country became an attractive location for Thai migrants seeking work. However, the Japanese government’s policy to reject unskilled labourers meant the majority of Thai migrants worked illegally on tourist visas across many Japanese cities. During this time, many Thai women worked in Japan’s sex and entertainment business. Thai migrants in Japan would generally fall into two categories: some were migrant workers and others travelled to become trained.
Figure 4 : Net Migration in Japan
South Korea (Republic of Korea)
Many Thai people have migrated to South Korea in response to opportunities created by the country’s rapid industrialisation and demography. Despite efforts by the South Korean government to overcome labour shortages, they remain unable to satisfy demands for labour. Policies to encourage, support and manage migrant workers began in the 1990s; however, increasing illegal migrants remain vulnerable to human rights abuses — and this problem remains largely unresolved.
Migration and Labour Policy International Organization for Migrationhttp://publications.iom.int/bookstore…/MP_Korea.pdf.
The South Korean government’s immigration policy, The Employment Permit System (EPS), supports the migration of foreigners to fill labour shortages. The EPS offers two kinds of permits: the General Employment Permit Visa programme issuing E-9 visas for foreign workers and the Working Visit Visa programme issuing H-2 visas for overseas Koreans.
The General Employment Permit Visa Programme
The General Employment Permit Visa programme allows foreign workers from 15 countries, including Thailand , to take up temporary employment in areas identified by the agreement as requiring foreign candidates in Korea. The General Employment Permit visas (E-9) allow a selected worker to stay a maximum of 3 years in Korea (although a 22 month extension is possible) and the employment contract with the employer is renewed annually. Under the Employment Permit System (EPS), Thai migrant workers may enter the country under a bilateral memorandum of understanding and be granted equal labour rights alongside local workers.
International Organization for Migrationhttp://publications.iom.int/bookstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&….
Figure 3 : Net Migration Rate in South KoreaCIA World Factbook http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=ks&v=27….
China (Hong Kong)
In Hong Kong there is not a culture of illegal workers, and Thai migrants working in Hong Kong are believed to be there legally. Employers who hire illegal workers are subject to huge financial penalties and there is a reluctance to hire such people. Thai women, with the appropriate visa, are able to work legitimately in Hong Kong performing domestic work (e.g. as housekeepers, cleaners or maids). Providing their contract is current they are welcome to stay in Hong Kong; however, if they overstay or contravene their contract they will be detained and deported. There are 2000 Thai workers in Hong Kong, working in three employment categories:
- Imported workers
- Domestic helpers from abroad
Figure 5 : Net Migration Rate in Hong KongRoyal Thai Consulate-General, Hong Konghttp://www.thai-consulate.org.hk/inte…/640.pdf
*Definition of Net migration rate: This entry includes the figure for the difference between the number of persons entering and leaving a country during the year per 1,000 persons (based on midyear population). An excess of persons entering the country is referred to as net immigration (e.g. 3.56 migrants/1,000 population); an excess of persons leaving the country as net emigration (e.g. -9.26 migrants/1,000 population). The net migration rate indicates the contribution of migration to the overall level of population change. High levels of migration can cause problems such as increasing unemployment and potential ethnic strife (if people are coming in) or a reduction in the labour force, perhaps in certain key sectors (if people are leaving).
Thai migration to more affluent East Asian countries has significant impacts. Many Thai migrant workers undertake labour-intensive work, sometimes in harsh environments, which can have an impact on their health. Many female workers, particularly those working in the construction industry, have experienced deterioration in their general health. For many illegal Thai workers medical and health insurance benefits either do not exist or are difficult for them to access.
ECS 485 B01Current economic problems and issues
The members of Group 3 are: