Call for Research Concepts

Winrock International, Bangladesh

Skill Required:, Policy/ Advocacy and CampaignResearch and Analysis
Preferred Experience: 
1 to 3 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 
29th September, 2020

Job Description

About the Program

The John D. Rockefeller 3RD Program (JDR3) Scholars Program is a research grant competition that promotes independent research and strengthens analytical skills in young professionals by giving grants to multi-disciplinary, applied research teams. The JDR3 program is designed to foster and build a cadre of experienced, qualified researchers and encourage them to conduct further policy-oriented research. The research products from this competition will contribute to evidence-based decision-making around migration policies.

This JDR3 research grant is being implemented in collaboration with the USAID Asia Counter Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) program, a five-year (2016-2021) regional program that focuses on transnational and regional challenges to combat trafficking in persons. The program, implemented by Winrock International, aims to reduce the trafficking of persons in Asia through coordinated and consolidated action by governments, civil society, and business that will foster cross-border cooperation, develop opportunities for private-sector leadership, and improve the quality of data associated with human trafficking. The total grant award for the research will be approximately USD 50,000 (the full amount remains to be confirmed). The research is anticipated to take approximately three (3) months of full-time work

Context of the Research

Legal, safe, and affordable migration policies can fill gaps in the labor markets, contributing to overall prosperity within countries. However, without appropriate protections, unchecked labor migration can increase vulnerability and increase the risk of human trafficking.
Although migrants from Bangladesh have historically been one of the largest migrant population in Malaysia, the Malaysian government suspended the official recruitment program with Bangladesh in 2019. Since this time, the government of Malaysia has been working to establish a new MOU with Bangladesh to reinstate the migration process. Employers, recruitment agencies, and migrant workers have been waiting for this MOU between Bangladesh and Malaysia to reestablish the parameters of safe and legal migration.

It is essential that this new MOU curbs migrant workers’ vulnerability to debt bondage, forced labor, and other forms of exploitation by providing means for Bangladeshi workers to legally migrate with zero or minimal costs to Malaysia. This research aims to address research questions surrounding this endeavor.

Research Selection Process

To reduce migrants’ vulnerability to trafficking and to encourage a fair recruitment process, Winrock is seeking to engage research teams who will investigate the full spectrum of costs borne by Bangladeshi workers on their journey from their origin in Bangladesh to Malaysia, and study how these costs increase vulnerability even before reaching Malaysia. This research will support policymakers by providing clarity around recruitment fees and other direct and indirect costs of recruitment and practices, how these costs cause vulnerability, and recommendations for reducing vulnerability of Bangladeshi migrants entering Malaysia for work. All research questions in this study should include a gender and social inclusion lens, examining how recruitment costs and processes may affect genders or specific groups differently. The primary scope of this research is to build an understanding around the hidden costs of recruitment incurred by Bangladeshi workers seeking employment in Malaysia. These costs can include direct costs such as transportation, accommodation, and documentation, but may also include hidden costs such as high interest loans, collateral lost, bribes, or others.

In order to address the scope of research, the following should be taken into consideration:

  • A wide variety of migrants should be included in the research to understand differences based on gender, social/ethnic group, economic industry or sector
  • The research should build an understanding of the cost of living and ability to recuperate expenses amongst migrants
  • A wide variety of stakeholders should be interviewed alongside migrants, including agencies, sub-agents and local brokers in Bangladesh and Malaysia
  • The research should provide recommendations of improved practices and solutions for a monitored, efficient, transparent, and accessible recruitment process
  • The current impact of COVID-19 on migration and repatriation of workers
  • Operational definitions, including recruitment fees, will be based on ILO principles and guidelines, forced labor on ILO Forced Labour Convention, and trafficking in persons on the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol.


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