Migrant Tech: Empowering Migrant Workers with Technology

This research focuses on the use of technology by low skilled and semi-skilled workers. By drawing from findings of a number of case and design studies, it analyzes how migrants can use technology to empower their situated agency and enable them to enhance their conditions.

Human migration and displacement have emerged as key global challenges of the century. Experts suggest that labor migration alone accounts for around 65% of international migration. These migrant workers are often required to take jobs within low-skilled labor sectors and are susceptible to exploitative working conditions due to a number of factors including unfair recruitment practices, discrimination, and unequal migrant worker protection systems.

This project aims to understand how migrant workers can use technology to support their structural empowerment, human dignity, and physical integrity. It aims to do so by generating insights and thought leadership on migration and ICTs; innovating and inventing ICTs in support of migrants, communities, and other affected stakeholders; and incorporating our research findings into evidence-based policymaking.

This project consists of the following set of activities:


  • ICTs in Pre/Post Recruitment of Foreign Domestic Workers. This research examines the ways that: ICTs empower migrant workers, specifically Foreign Domestic Workers, especially during the recruitment stage; and migration governance and ICTs.
  • Apprise: identifying exploitation of migrant workers. This case and design study aim to understand how technology can be used by victims of forced labor and human trafficking to self-identify and seek help from front-line responders (police, NGOs, labor inspectors). As an initial pilot, it focuses on using the technology within Thailand.
  • ICT skills training for survivors of sexual exploitation. This research investigates the impact of digital skills training on the psychosocial well-being of survivors, as well as how the training program and the security of high-skilled employment affect recovery and reintegration


  • ICT Use among North Korean women in South Korea. About 30,000 North Korean defectors entered South Korea, making a dramatic transition from the most digitally oppressed country to one of the most digitally connected countries. This project aims to understand what the role is of mobile phones in the struggles and negotiation by North Korea women defectors during their migration journey and resettlement in South Korea.
  • Mainland Chinese Dual Migrants. This activity aims to identify the perceived affordance of social media, in particular, WeChat, for dual migrants who have first migrated from rural China to border towns, and then cross borders daily for work.

The project aims to draw together the findings of these activities to understand how technology can be used to support migrant workers’ structural empowerment, human dignity, and physical integrity.

Hannah Thinyane, Don Rodney Junio, Francisca Sassetti, Michael Gallo

Jenny Ju, Juhee Kang, Karthik Bhat



This research is addressing issues related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)



This project is part of the Digital Peace Lab and the Gender Tech Lab.