Roundtable discussion with Bijaya Rai Shrestha, director of POURAKHI-Nepal

The roundtable discussion with Bijaya Rai Shrestha, organised by the Australian Human Rights Centre and the Diplomacy Training Program on Wednesday, 15 August 2012, was an inspirational hour following the journey of a Human Rights advocate for women migrant workers’ rights in Nepal and the struggle for national and international recognition of this victimised group.

Having been a migrant worker herself in Japan, Bijaya started building up a network in Nepal in 2002. Founding her non-governmental organisation Pourakhi on the pillars of uniting women migrant workers and returnees, Bijaya has sought to inform and train women to be economically independent, to give a voice to women migrant workers and provide them with the choice for safe migration. With more than 1,500 followers in more than 40 Nepalese districts and many more listening to Bijaya’s radio broadcasts, Pourakhi has confronted the Nepalese government and destination states to find solutions to end the suffering of women labour migrants, who are often undocumented and without legal protection.

After the enactment of the 2007 Nepalese Foreign Employment Act as a first step towards the legal recognition of migrant workers, the potential ratification of the ILO Convention 189 of 2011 on decent work for domestic workers offers new hope to pioneering human rights advocates, such as Bijaya. It provides strong support, as international law, for the protection of (women) labour migrants from exploitation and abuse.

Laura Flakowski, DTP

Photo: Bijaya Rai Shrestha is standing 7th from the left.


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