Beyond 'Tolerance': Working Hand-in-Hand to Promote the Social Inclusion of Migrants and Their Families

In November 2015, MMN commenced a project entitled, Beyond ‘Tolerance’: Working Hand-in-Hand to Promote the Social Inclusion of Migrants and their Families, supported by the Toyota Foundation. The project was part of MMN’s long-term efforts to promote social cohesion in the region. Beyond ‘Tolerance’ aimed to promote social integration and tackle the issue of social exclusion of migrants in the context of origin countries, Cambodia and Myanmar, as well as destination countries, Thailand and Japan. MMN deemed it strategic for civil society organisations (CSOs) in Myanmar and Cambodia to have mutual exchanges in order to develop collective responses as countries of origin. At the same time, it was also crucial for CSOs in the two countries of origin to understand issues faced by migrants in Thailand, the major destination country in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), and in Japan, where increasing numbers of migrants from the GMS are travelling to. Additionally, this project aimed to create multiple impacts on both policy and public perception of migration. 

The major components of the project involved visits to the four countries concerned, the production of a multimedia presentation, including photographs and interviews, a series of talks and exhibitions in Bangkok, Yangon, and Phnom Penh, and an advocacy paper entitled Permanently Temporary: Examining the Impact of Social Exclusion on Mekong Migration.

Project Partners

  • MAP Foundation, Thailand;
  • Legal Support for Children and Women, Cambodia; 
  • Cambodian Women Crisis Centre, Cambodia; 
  • 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, Myanmar; and
  • Ms Yuriko Saito, Meiji Gakuin University, Japan

Key Activities

MMN conducted field visits to Thailand (May 2016), Cambodia (May 2016), Myanmar (June 2016), and Japan (July 2016), in collaboration with partnering CSOs and migrant rights advocates, to gather information and initiate forward-looking conversations on the necessary changes to respond to the social exclusion of migrants and their families. During these country visits, MMN delegates and project partners spoke with representatives of grassroots CSOs working to support migrant workers in destination countries, as well as Special Economic Zones administrators, migrant resource centres, inter-governmental organisations, and recruitment agency associations in countries of origin. At the end of each country visit, MMN partners participated in an internal reflection meeting to discuss their understanding of issues surrounding the social inclusion and exclusion of migrants. All the country visits were accompanied by Mr John Hulme, a documentary photographer, who took photos and videos to document the experiences of migrants with the help of project partners. To learn more, please read the website reports of the country visits.

MMN held photo exhibitions in Bangkok, Thailand; Yangon, Myanmar; and Phnom Penh, Cambodia to showcase photos and videos taken by Mr John Hulme with the help of MMN project partners. The photos depicted the experiences, aspirations, and struggles of migrants in their countries of origin and destination countries. Migrant workers, migrant rights advocates, and representatives of CSOs, international non-governmental organisations, research and academic institutions, and government ministries participated in the launches of the exhibitions and contributed to discussions on the theme of social inclusion. To learn more about the photo exhibitions, please read the press releases of the events in BangkokYangon, and Phnom Penh.

MMN produced the multimedia documentary entitled Beyond ‘Tolerance’: Living Together with Migrants to document migrant workers’ experiences of living and working abroad in Thailand and Japan. The documentary is available in English, Thai, Khmer, Burmese, and Japanese. To watch the documentary, please click here.

The Advocacy Paper, Permanently Temporary: Examining the Impact of Social Exclusion on Mekong Migrants, provides a critical analysis of the issue as experienced by Mekong migrants in two popular destination countries (Thailand and Japan), and migrant returnees and family members left behind in two important countries of origin (Myanmar and Cambodia). In order to provide perspective as to the impact that Thailand and Japan’s short-term migration policies are having on countries of origin, this paper also examines the issue of social exclusion amongst migrant returnees and family members who remain in Myanmar and Cambodia. As part of the paper, MMN sought to contribute a set of policy recommendations that may lead to better outcomes for these groups under any new mechanisms that emerge.


Further Reading

Documentary: Beyond Tolerance

Watch this MMN multimedia presentation of migrant workers speaking about their experiences.