Women across the world face disparities based upon their gender. In the migration context, this is particularly applicable. Despite the fact that women migrate as much as men, oftentimes, their skills contributions and needs are overlooked. Nearly half of the estimated 260 million migrants worldwide are women, who are often at greater risk for exploitation, abuse and violence.
A more gendered approach can better address systemic barriers for migrant women and girls. With this, IOM held a seminar in London entitled “Women and Migration: Implementing international frameworks for empowerment of migrant women and girls” on 19 March 2019 to mark International Women’s Day.
The seminar examined the role and relevance of the Agenda 2030 and the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) to stimulate new thinking and discussion on how to make the implementation of such frameworks more gender-responsive and contribute to gender equality.
Academia, civil society and DFID panellists explored innovative approaches to ensuring implementation of such frameworks adequately addresses the specific challenges faced by migrant women and girls.
Professor Nicola Piper from Queen Mary University in London highlighted: “Although the SDGs and the Global Compact do place women on the agenda, we should not limit our focus to counter trafficking programmes."
Thomas Green, Global Compact for Migration Lead at the UK Department for International Development (DFID) emphasised the role and the potential of the GCM in further advancing gender equality and provided examples of how DIFD projects around the globe support this process.
Civil society was represented by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants’ (JCWI) Campaign Officer Mary Atkinson and Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) Director Michelle LeVoy. Both speakers highlighted the continued challenges facing migrant women, especially undocumented ones. Discussions explored how the implementation of international frameworks must ensure marginalised groups have access to justice. The issue of firewalls also came out strongly as its implementation is essential in protecting migrant women from abuse or discrimination especially when it comes of access to health services.
The seminar concluded by recognizing the significant strides the international community has taken on cooperation on international migration through the adoption of international frameworks such as the GCM and Agenda 2030. However, more can be done to address the implementation to eliminate violence against women and girls, trafficking and exploitation and addressing and reducing vulnerabilities in migration. Facilitating fair and ethical recruitment, ensuring safe and decent work for all and recognising and valuing unpaid care and domestic workers are also priorities for both international agendas.