Social welfare and maternity protection for female workers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are the focus of a workshop in Hanoi on May 6.

The function, co-organised by the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs and the Friedrich Ebert Institute of Singapore, is the combination of two initiatives raised in Work Plans of the ASEAN Senior Labour Officials Meeting (SLOM) and the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) during the period of 2011-2015 with Vietnam as a coordinator.

Delegates highlighted the necessity to calculate gender equality and women’s demands in the social welfare system.

They touched upon maternity protection covering maternity leave, salary, bonuses and reproductive health services, as well as the successful experiences of ASEAN countries and their cooperation.

Issues regarding jobs for disadvantaged groups, especially female workers, remain pressing despite the many commitments made to increase social welfare, they said.

There are less female workers in ASEAN than male workers, they said, noting that women receive lower wages than their male peers while traditionally having to take care of their families.

On this occasion, the delegates suggested regional countries put forth policies to increase social welfare for migrant female workers, who experience many hardships.

Delegates said that to reduce the development gap between ASEAN member nations, it is necessary to enhance the exchange of experiences and examples of labour management while promoting equality in the workplace, including gender equality.

The event’s outcomes will be submitted to officials and ministers’ meetings of the SLOM and the ACW.

According to the 2008 ASEAN Chapter, ASEAN member countries committed to providing social welfare for all citizens.

The master plan of the ASEAN Cultural and Social Community also considers social security and social welfare as top priorities.

Meanwhile, the working programme of ASEAN Labour Ministers during the 2010-2015 period maps out strategies to expand social welfare for unofficial sectors and enhance social protection in the workplace.-VNA