Social Protection​


Migrant workers from countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) remain insufficiently protected in terms of their life cycle needs. Impediments accessing social protection schemes, as well as the cross-border nature of migration, result in migrant workers being routinely excluded from financial protection mechanisms or denied access to entitlements. 

Rather than being a drain on social protection programmes, migrants are, more often than not, a net benefit to the public purse. Arriving in destination countries as adults and often leaving before retirement age, migrants tend, on average, to be fitter, younger and more likely to be in full-time employment than their native-born peers. What is more, the trend towards migration policies based on temporary residence makes it more difficult for migrants to ever see the fruits of their contributions.

A construction worker in Hanoi, Vietnam

MMN believes governments of destination countries and countries of origin both have a role to play in developing inclusive policies relating to social protection. Access to various forms of benefits and entitlements should be facilitated, while any barriers migrants may face when accessing social protection must be removed. Governments also need to ensure that sufficient mechanisms are in place so that migrants and their families do not incur any loss of rights and benefits throughout the migration cycle.

To enhance migrants’ access to social protection programmes when they are abroad and upon returning home, MMN has conducted several pieces of research on existing social protection programmes, including healthcare and social security systems, and sought to understand the difficulties migrants face when accessing their entitlements. These findings were presented to various stakeholders in destination countries and countries of origin in an effort to inform responsible actors of areas in need of improvements, and ultimately to catalyse changes in relevant policies to shape a more inclusive social protection framework in the GMS.

Related Initiatives

MMN launched Phase III of the Roles of Countries of Origin project in 2020, which built on the key findings of the first two phases of the project as well as the growing momentum among stakeholders in countries of origin to enhance migrant protection mechanisms throughout the migration cycle.

During the second stage of the project (2018-2019), MMN conducted case studies with migrants to examine the roles of countries of origin in facilitating migrant workers’ access to social protection. One of the findings from these studies was that migrants’ perceptions regarding the roles of countries of origin in facilitating access to social protection change over time. In light of this finding, the objective of the third phase of the project is to better understand how migrants’ perceptions of social protection and the roles of countries of origin change over time and what factors are involved in affecting such change. This study also aims to develop targeted recommendations for relevant stakeholders with the objective of improving migrants’ access to social protection at different stages of migration…

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Between 2018 and 2019, MMN launched the second phase of the Roles of Countries of Origin project, which built on the successful completion of the project’s first phase. The second phase of the project focused on the roles played by countries of origin in enabling their citizens to benefit from social protection schemes while abroad and upon return. MMN has been increasingly aware through its ongoing work with migrant communities of the obstacles encountered by migrants enrolling in overseas social security schemes and issues impeding the receipt of benefits owed to them upon return…

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MMN’s Roles of Countries of Origin Project seeks to protect the rights of migrants throughout the migration process from the perspective of countries of origin. During the project’s first phase, between April 2015 and May 2017, MMN conducted a comparative study into the labour migration mechanisms of several Southeast Asian countries of origin. 

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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…

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Inflexible healthcare systems in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) often exclude people who are not living in their hometown, who do not have documentation, and/or who have not contributed to a healthcare scheme. Due to these exclusions and other factors, migrant women often lack access to healthcare and treatment, rendering them vulnerable in times of ill health…

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The idea for From our Eyes: Migrant Reflection was born at the workshop on Migration Trends and Responses in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) and Beyond,  held on 31 August 2010 in Chiang Mai, and co-organised by MMN, MAP Foundation, and the Asian Migrant Centre…

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Resource Hub

Video Highlights of Consultation on Migrants' Access to Social Security

Watch the video highlights of a series of consultations with migrants on access to social security.

Social Protection Programmes in Countries of Origin

Read about existing social security systems applicable to migrants in countries of origin in the region.

Social Protection Applicable to Migrants in Destination Countries

Read about the various types of social protection programmes that are applicable to migrant workers in Thailand, Japan, and Singapore.

Healthcare for Migrants Living with HIV/AIDS in the GMS

Read this policy brief published in 2016 on the state of health care for migrants living with HIV/AIDS in the Greater Mekong Subregion.