Grad student answering the Geneva Challenge

Paul Mayne // Western News

Every year millions of Indonesian workers, predominately women, leave their families and villages to seek work abroad as migrant workers. Approximately 4.3 million legal workers are employed overseas, with 60 per cent of those in countries in the Middle East. Undocumented migrants inflate the number to almost 15 million.

The exploitation and poor treatment of these female workers continues to cause public outcry and has even included killings and families requesting ‘blood money’ to release women falsely accused of crimes.

Western student Kevin Vuong is hoping to begin to reverse this destructive trend.

A graduate of Western’s Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies program, and currently working on a master’s degree in Geography, Vuong is part of a Canadian team being flown to Geneva, Switzerland, this weekend to present their proposal.

Vuong, who teamed up with four students from the University of Toronto, is heading to the inaugural Geneva Challenge on Empowering Women for Development to compete against two other global finalists – one from the Universidad de los Andes (Colombia), one from the University of Reading (U.K.) – to promote gender equality and empower women.

“One thing we want to ensure is that our project will have an impact,” Vuong said. “What our solution does is to educate the women on the challenges they will face, as well as provide them a resource to contact should they have issues abroad. And the challenges migrant women face isn’t unique to just them (Indonesia). But by picking this particular corridor, we ensure the impact, but at the same time make it broad enough that we could scale up and replicate it throughout the region to make an even larger impact.”