15 August 2018 | Brief

Labour rights for women in the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam: Protection, Equality, Disruption

Workplace Gender Equality


This research brief examines labour legislations and labour standards related to gender equality across Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

It summarises the degree to which each country has implemented both core labour standards based on international conventions such as the equal remuneration convention and the minimum wage convention, as well as domestic labour laws such as maternity leave and non-discrimination laws.

Labour legislation as related to gender equality is considered through four key categories: laws that specifically protect women; laws that protect women as mothers; laws that formally enact gender equality, such as non-discrimination laws; and laws that challenge and disrupt social norms around work and care, and the public and the private separation.

The research brief also considers the theoretical debates around the impact that labour legislation can have on women’s empowerment, including the necessity of applying a gender lens to the typically ‘gender blind’ analyses of labour law.

This report is developed by the University of Sydney with support from Investing in Women.


  • The report finds that labour laws in the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam share a number of common features including: legislation for maternity leave with pay; equal pay and remuneration for women; prohibition of domestic violence; and, more recently, legislated paternity leave.
  • However, in other areas there are notable gaps between the different labour laws in each country.
  • In particular, the report finds that the Philippines is the most progressive in its adoption of legislation, whereas Myanmar has still not adopted laws covering: protection for female night workers; menstrual leave; domestic workers; and sexual harassment.
  • None of the four countries in the study has labour laws guaranteeing jobs for women returning for maternity leave or domestic violence leave from work.

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