Gender and Migration
How does migration advance or impede gender equality? How can policy-makers and practitioners promote gender equality in work on migration? Migration can bring new opportunities for greater gender equality and a better life, for those migrating and those they leave behind. It can have positive impacts on sending and receiving areas. However, migration also brings risks, and may entrench inequalities around gender. This pack hopes to inspire thinking on these questions and to present examples of innovative practice. It is a concise and practical resource consisting of: Overview Report, outlining the main issues and offering recommendations for ways forward; Supporting Resources Collection, with summaries of key texts, case studies and tools, and key organisations; and the Gender and Development In Brief bulletin with three short articles on the theme.
In 2000, 1 in every 35 people was an international migrant and half of these were women. The total numbers of people moving internally and the proportions of women among them are even higher. People's experiences of gender are central to the patterns, causes and impacts of migration. Gender roles, relations and inequalities affect who migrates, how, why, and where they end up. Migration can lead to a greater degree of economic and/or social autonomy for women, and the opportunity to challenge traditional or restrictive gender roles. Through migration, both men and women may develop skills or earn higher wages, some of which they can send back to their country of origin as remittances. However, migration can also entrench restrictive gender stereotypes of women's dependency and lack of decision-making power. Gender affects how people are able to contribute to and benefit from their destination community - and how, therefore, they are able to ultimately play a part in achieving basic goals of both social and economic development.
Recommendations from the Overview Report
If women and men are to benefit from the empowering and development potential of migration, a shift is needed to a gendered human rights approach to migration. The key elements of such an approach could be:
- Immigration and emigration policies that enable women as well as men to take up opportunities that safe and regular migration may offer, and which will foster the positive impacts of migration for the social and economic development of migrants, and the receiving and sending countries. This would include measures to ensure sufficient regular channels for women’s entry, to avoid them being pushed into more risky irregular channels and bilateral agreements between sending and receiving areas which protect women migrants’ rights.
- Mobilise around and support for international rights frameworks that offer protection for women migrants to ensure that governments ratify and adhere to such. This includes not only those relating to migrants, trafficked peoples, refugees and displaced peoples, but also women-specific frameworks such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), UN Resolution 1325 and the Beijing Platform for Action.
- Support for the acknowledgement and realisation of the rights of migrants throughout the migration process, including providing pre-departure information on legal rights, facilitating remittances, ensuring access to basic services such as housing, education and health, and supporting migrant organising and solidarity between different migrant groups to address issues of exclusion and isolation.
This collection is made up of summaries of overviews, case studies, tools and guidelines and other materials relating to gender and migration. Materials are featured which look at gender aspects of both international and internal migration, and forced and voluntary migration; the selected migration and development issues of remittances, HIV/AIDS, and brain drain and brain gain; relevant international frameworks and policies; case studies of migrants organising or work supporting migrants; tools, guides and training materials, and finally contact details of gender and migration networks and organisations.
This In Brief focuses on the gender aspects of migration and hopes to inspire thinking on how policy and practice can foster the positive potential of migration and mitigate the risks. It starts with an overview with recommendations and follows with two articles highlighting practical responses to key issues.
The first article describes UNIFEM's work changing policies and supporting the rights of women migrating from Asia to the Middle East. Rather than treating women migrants as victims, they focus on an empowering and rights-based approach which respects their choices, and challenges the policies and prejudices in sending and receiving countries which make their lives more difficult. Sending and receiving countries must work together in order to guarantee sustained improvement in women’s migrant lives. To this end, UNIFEM has been supporting cross-regional learning and cooperation both within and between countries through exposure visits and regional conferences.
The second is a piece from the Durbar sex worker collective challenging us to re-evaluate work on trafficking. It is a composite of many conversations with sex workers across India and Bangladesh, and on an action research for a programme on Gender, Citizenship and Governance conducted by Durbar in collaboration with the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in 2000-2002.