SOAS University of London

Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy

Gabriela Marti

Master of Law ("lic. iur.", University of Fribourg, Switzerland), LLM (National University of Singapore)
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Gabriela Marti
Ms Gabriela Marti
Email address:
Thesis title:
Migrant Domestic Workers in East and Southeast Asia
Year of Study:

PhD Research

In East and Southeast Asia, various factors, such as significant economic and income disparities between the countries in the region, as well as demographic trends, have stimulated transnational labour migration over the past few decades.

One of the most notable features of these migrant flows has been their increasing feminisation in recent years. In the East and Southeast Asian region, a large number of female migrants move from less prosperous countries to the richer, high-growth states and territories, to work in highly gendered occupations, such as nursing, domestic work, and entertainment.

This PhD research project examines and evaluates the legal regulation of migrant domestic workers (MDWs) in a number of labour sending and receiving jurisdictions in East and Southeast Asia, as well as the relevant bilateral, regional, and international frameworks.

Previous research has repeatedly suggested that the legal regulation of MDWs, particularly at the domestic level of the receiving and sending jurisdictions, falls short of adequately protecting the rights, interests, and wellbeing of these workers. This project inquires whether and how the domestic laws regulating MDWs in the examined jurisdictions fail to reflect the international human rights and labour standards applicable to migrant workers in general, and to MDWs in particular. Furthermore, the study explores how the applicable legal framework might be improved.

Special attention will be accorded to the standards set by the 2011 Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers of the International Labour Organization (ILO) (ILO Domestic Workers Convention, C189). Namely, the study will assess the prospects for a ratification and implementation of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention in the examined jurisdictions.

Ultimately, the study aims to demonstrate the benefits and shortcomings of the present legal framework and its implementation and enforcement in practice, and to develop suggestions for an improved legal regime.


In English:

"The Role of the Constitutional Tribunal in Myanmar's Reform Process" (2014) 9 Asian Journal of Comparative Law (forthcoming)

In German:

"Vertrauensschutz im Familienrecht" (2010) 11 – Die Praxis des Familienrechts 497-520 (Article on the protection of trust in Swiss family law)

"Gesellschaftsrecht: Literaturspiegel der Jahre 2003-2007" (2008) 127 Zeitschrift für Schweizerisches Recht (ZSR) 135-177 (with Adrian Bieri and Hans-Ueli Vogt) (Review of the literature on company law published in Switzerland in the years 2003-2007)


"The Role of the Constitutional Tribunal in Myanmar's Reform Process", paper prepared for the Centre for Asian Legal Studies (CALS) and Asian Law Institute (ASLI) Young Scholars Workshop, National University of Singapore, 5-6 December 2013

"Organising Migrant Domestic Workers in Singapore: The Role of NGOs and Online Social Media", paper presented at the 10th Asian Law Institute (ASLI) Conference 2013, National Law School of India University, Bangalore, India, 23-24 May 2013

Migration Methodologies Graduate Student Workshop, National University of Singapore, 14 March 2013, presentation on the methodologies to be applied in the research project on Migrant Domestic Workers in East and Southeast Asia

"Organising Migrant Domestic Workers in Singapore: The Changing Nature of the Labour Movement", paper presented at the 2nd Annual Southeast Asian Studies Symposium, St. Anne's College, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, 9-10 March 2013


  • Swiss Association of Jurists
  • Research Network for Domestic Worker Rights (RN-DWR)
  • London International Development Centre (LIDC)


Law and development; comparative law; international labour law; constitutional law; gender, migration, and law