Protecting and Promoting the Rights of China's Vulnerable Young Migrants
The Millennium Development Goal Achievement Fund (MDG-F) programme aims to accelerate progress towards attainment of the MDGs in selected countries, including China. The Youth, Employment and Migration (YEM) is a UN joint Programme sponsored by the MDG-F, commenced in China in February 2009 and provides a unique opportunity to ensure that the response to the largest movement of people in modern times is rights-based, poverty-focused, and fully informed by international good practice. The Programme brings together 9 UN Agencies and their counterparts, who are jointly implementing activities related to 10 project outputs.
At the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, 189 member States adopted the Millennium Declaration, which pledged to reach the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. In 2006, the UN and the Government of Spain signed a landmark agreement to provide fund over the next four years through the UN system, towards key Millennium Development Goals and related development goals in select sectors and countries.
The MDG programme aims to accelerate progress towards attainment of the MDGs in selected countries, including China. The three-year YEM MDG-F Programme commenced in China on 11 February 2009 and provides a unique opportunity to ensure that the response to the largest movement of people in modern times is rights-based, poverty-focused, and fully informed by international good practice. The project is funded by the Government of Spain and the Government of China.
The YEM MDG-F Programme focuses on the following MDGs:
- MDG 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education
- MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
- MDG 4: Reduce child mortality
- MDG 5: Improve maternal health
- MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases
China’s migrant workforce of 150 million, often described as “floating population”, represents the largest movement of people in modern history. The number of China’s young people aged 15 to 29 years is 320 million. The poorest strata of these are found in China’s rural areas, and many strive to earn a better living by migrating from their home. An estimated 62 per cent of the rural population aged 15 to 30 are leaving their communities in search of work in more developed towns and cities. In China, the challenges faced by migrants and by young people therefore are inextricably intertwined.
In recent years, a host of policy reforms and new legislation have been introduced in China specifically to improve migrants’ labor rights, civil rights and rights to basic services and social security. These have been followed up with large-scale programmes to enhance their human capital, decent work opportunities, and access to social protection. However, the sheer scale and complexity of the challenge means that progress remains gradual, uneven and experimental.
This Joint Programme will strengthen the institutional capacities to effectively develop and implement the laws and policies by bringing together good practices and exploring innovative solutions, building on the UN Country Team’s experience and cross-sectoral expertise. Rights-based interventions will increase the social and labour protection of those who are in most need of support and yet are also the hardest to reach. Models will be developed to support the most vulnerable: young labour market entrants from the rural areas, and to assist the government in developing the capacities to provide young migrants and potential migrants with better access to quality education, skills training, social services and rights protection mechanisms. The models will be fed into and benefit from a strengthened knowledge base on migration, extensive advocacy and institutional capacity building, as well as improved coordination between the key stakeholders – not only government, but all levels of civil society and migrants themselves. Feasible approaches to reducing the negative impacts of migration resulting from social exclusion of rural migrants in the cities and from leaving children behind in the rural areas will be developed and tested.
The Youth, Employment and Migration Window of the MDG Achievement Fund brings together nine UN agencies and their counterparts, who are working jointly to implement project activities at six pilot sites: Cangzhou, Tianjin, Changsha, Hangzhou, Xi’an and Shenzhen. This initiative has provided the impetus for the development of a common strategy to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable migrant workers. It provides an unprecedented opportunity to ensure that the response to the largest movement of people in modern times is rights-based, poverty-focused, and fully informed by international good practice.
Three outcomes have been agreed for this Joint Programme:
- Improved policy frameworks and policy implementation, with full stakeholder participation;
- Better access to decent work for vulnerable young people promoted through pre-employment education and training; and
- Rights of vulnerable young migrants protected through improved access to social and labour protection.
Given the Chinese Government’s willingness and capacity to replicate and mainstream successful pilots, the solutions developed within the Joint Programme will have the potential to significantly contribute to China’s MDGs on poverty, education, gender equality, maternal health and HIV/AIDS. Beyond the potential impact on China’s 150 million migrants, this programme will have a substantial influence on global MDG indicators. Many of the interventions that prove effective can be adapted to address youth employment and labour migration challenges worldwide.
1. National migration policy informed by platform for migration research information exchange. This output will support the testing and implementation of evidence-based policies and programmes to promote the safe and orderly transition of the rural labour force.
2. Policy implementation strengthened through piloting of models and the participation of migrants in policy dialogue. To support testing of policy implementation, this output will develop interventions that meet the needs of young migrants and potential migrant youth, and promote their social inclusion, safe migration, and decent work opportunities.
3. Access to vocational training for migrants and young people in rural areas improved to prevent premature entry to the labour force and increase self-employment opportunities. Measures will be designed and implemented to address the employability of youth in two different groups: in-school youth and out-of-school youth.
4. Safe migration information and life-skills training for young people strengthened. Migrants typically leave home at a young age, unprepared to handle the challenges of adulthood, of work, and of living in the city. A common and comprehensive life skills training package will be developed, including self-instruction materials and teachers’ handbooks. A participatory training methodology will be adopted to maximize the impact of the training. The life skills package will be adapted for different age and gender groups, and piloted through a variety of channels in sending and receiving areas.
5. Community centres enhanced in providing comprehensive gender responsive learning opportunities, information and referral services. A network of service providers will use community centres as a means to reach out to migrants. Linkages will be forged between the centres and a range of local service providers, whose capacity is being built through other programme activities.
6. Implementation and enforcement of existing legislation for migrant workers strengthened and safe migration enhanced. The implementation and enforcement of labour legislation will be accelerated and the institutional capacity of the labour inspectorate, and workers’ and employers’ organizations enhanced.
For further information please contact:
Mr Deng Baoshan
National Project Coordinator
ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia
Tel: +86 10 6532 5091