Mainstreaming Gender in Migration and Development

 Artwork from the manual Gender on the Move: Working on the Migration-Development Nexus from a Gender Perspective developed by UN Women

Moderator: Allison Petrozziello

Allison Petrozziello is a gender and migration specialist and author of UN Women’s training manual Gender on the Move: Working on the Migration-Development Nexus from a Gender Perspective.

On 19 September 2016 the UN General Assembly hosted the first ever UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants at UN headquarters in New York. It is a watershed moment to strengthen human rights-based governance of international migration.

UN Women directs high-level attention to the need to mainstream a gender perspective, promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and fully respect and protect the human rights of women and girls in all aspects of the migration process. 

We invite you to contribute to this discussion and solutions exchange by telling us:

  1. How can women and girls on the move be protected from exclusion and exploitation at all stages of migration?
  2. What are the contributions of women migrants and refugees to achieving inclusive sustainable development?
  3. How can a gender perspective be mainstreamed into migration and asylum policies and other national legislation (labour, trafficking, etc.)? What are the benefits of doing so?
  4. In what ways can existing international instruments and mechanisms be used to protect and promote the human rights of women and girls on the move?
The Promoting and Protecting Women Migrant Workers’ Labour and Human Rights project is funded by the European Union. 
The Promoting and Protecting Women Migrant Workers’ Labour and Human Rights project is funded by the European Union. 
The Promoting and Protecting Women Migrant Workers’ Labour and Human Rights project is funded by the European Union. 
The Promoting and Protecting Women Migrant Workers’ Labour and Human Rights project is funded by the European Union. 

The Promoting and Protecting Women Migrant Workers’ Labour and Human Rights project is funded by the European Union. More information here.

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  • Allison Petrozziello

    Today is the final day of this e-discussion, and I wanted to take the opportunity to extend a final THANK YOU to all who took the time to post! I have thoroughly enjoyed learning from each of you. At this time there are 36 discussion threads engaging people from 16 countries across 4 continents. There are many interesting insights as to strategies and challenges to protecting the rights of women and girls on the move, as well as mainstreaming gender in migration and development, making use of international instruments and mechanisms to create greater accountability, and taking stock of women migrants’ contributions to development.

    We encourage you to check the Promoting and Protecting Women Migrant Workers’ Labour and Human Rights project site for more information on this initiative, as well as publications such as the forthcoming UN Women publication authored by Dr. Jenna Hennebry, Women Working Worldwide: A Situational Analysis of Women Migrant Workers.

    In solidarity with all of you, working for gender equality and women’s empowerment in migration and development, this is your moderator, signing off.


  • Monica Corona

    Relacionado con tu comentario del 3 de octubre, donde mencionas que uno de los discusiones que menos se ha abordado en esta e-discussion es la que se refiere a What are the contributions of women migrants and refugees to achieving inclusive sustainable development? quisiera compartir una infografía que hicimos en colaboracion con la Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (Ministerior de Comunicación y Transporte) que a través de un portal llamado "Mujer Migrante" (que se enfoca en las mujeres en los procesos migratorios en México, o hacia México), retomamos la informacion más importante de nuestra publicación Las trabajadoras migrantes, el envío de remesas y la generacion de cadenas globales de cuidados en el corredor Chiapas-Centroamérica, y elaboramos la infografía que se puede encontrar en el siguiente link:
    Creemos que es muy importante que cuando se hable de las mujeres migrantes no olvidemos que un número importante de ellas son TRABAJADORAS MIGRANTES, es decir, mujeres que dejan su país de origen con el fin de buscar mejores oportunidades en otro país, y que en muchas ocasiones también están huyendo de situaciones de violencia de pareja o de violencia social (como en centroamerica, que las mujeres salen huyendo del acoso de las maras y del crimen organizado). Cuando migran, las mujeres se ocupan en trabajos mal remunerados y enfocados en los cuidados, y al realizar ese trabajo, aportan a las familias y comunidades de los países que las acogen. A la vez, envían recursos a sus países de origen, sostienen a sus familias, y con esas acciones del día a día se van creando nuevas formas de vida y - en ocasiones - cambios en los roles de géero entre las parejas. Las mujeres,contribuyen así tanto a sus familias, sus países, los países de destino. El faltante en esta ecuacion es la falta de derechos y reconocimiento que viven las mujeres migrantes.

    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks so much for your contribution, Monica! First, I will translate it to English for the benefit of other participants.

      Monica writes: Regarding your comment from October 3rd, where you mention that the discussion question addressed the least is What are the contributions of women migrants and refugees to achieving inclusive sustainable development? – I would like to share an infographic that we made in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Transportation on a web portal called “Mujer Migrante” (Migrant Woman). Drawing upon the most important information from our publication Las trabajadoras migrantes, el envío de remesas y la generacion de cadenas globales de cuidados en el corredor Chiapas-Centroamérica (Women Migrant Workers, Remittances, and Global Care Chains in the Chiapas-Central American Corridor), we designed the infographic which can be found here:


      We think it is important when we are talking about migrant women that we not forget that a significant number of them are MIGRANT WORKERS, women who leave their countries of origin seeking better opportunities in another country, and who oftentimes are also fleeing situations of domestic or social violence (as in Central America, where women are fleeing from gang violence and organized crime). When they migrate, women take up poorly paid jobs mostly in the care sector, and through this work, they are contributing to the families and communities that they care for. At the same time, they send remittances to their countries of origin, they maintain families, and through these daily actions they are creating new ways of living and – on occasion – changes in gender roles within their relationships. Thus, the women are contributing to their families, countries, and destination countries. What is missing from this equation is the lack of rights and recognition facing migrant women. 

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  • Lilia Tulea

    Dear All, Dear Allison,

    thank you for inviting me to this global discussion as I find it truly useful in terms of sharing experiences, ideas and solutions to particular challenges in addressing gender equality, as such, and promoting women migrants workers human and labour rights.

    I've been working in this area for some time already and thought we are doing a great job, and we are, every one of us in its corner of living. 

    I would like to continue on the discussion started by Diana Cheianu from Moldova and share from moldovan experience on promoting and protecting women migrants workers human and labour rights. The repercurssions and consequences of migration in Moldova are only now felt after about 15 years of intensive migratory process and, naturally, both the Government and the women migrants inquired about solutions to aproach the challenges related to migration at all stages. On one hand, capacity building was provided to the Government migration responsible institutions on mainstreaming migration into development policies from gender perspective and on the other hand, much efforts were put in identifying women migrants and capacitating them in associating in organisations to become vocal and strong about demanding the fulfilment of their human and labour rights. For that, we have undertaken lot of research and consultations to identify women migrants’ key policy concerns and issues to be addressed at the policy level. 
    However, the consultations and capacity building actions on migration key issues and policy concerns undertaken with returned migrants workers from abroad revealed a weak link, in terms of engagement and accountability between public authorities and migrants, as well as scarce communication and dialogue between them. This very fact did not allow an effective engagement of women migrants with public authorities on promotion of the outlined identified concerns at policy level and at the same time legged behind the efficient implementation of the current legislative provisions on migration, especially the current 2014-2016 National Action Plan on Reintegration of migrants from abroad, as per latest findings. So, the idea is that alongside capacity building provided to Government and women migrants, the cooperation trends with a degree of mutual trust need to be established between them in order to achieve meaningful results in terms of mainstreaming migration into development policies from gender perspective.

    Although there still a long way to go, so far l
    egal review and analysis of migration, labour and trafficking laws was achieved in Moldova, with support of the UN Women project intervention. A set of 53 recommendations for amendment of 13 laws from CEDAW perspectives were presented to the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family. The revised laws include the following: the Law on entry and exit in/from the country, Family Code, the Law on Labor Migration, the Regulation on issuing identity documents and recording citizens of the Republic of Moldova, the Regulation on issuing medical certificate of proving birth , the Law on Police, the Regulation on allocations for families with children, the Code of Civil procedure of RM, the Code on Contraventions, Civil Code and Law on enterprises, Criminal Law, Code on Criminal Procedure, Code on Labour. The recommendations address the specific areas of intervention stipulated in the CEDAW Convention including Recommendation no 26.

    The developed social national campaign is one of our greatest achievements and I truly wanted to share it with everyone. This national campaign’s objective is to raise awareness of the public at large, of central and local authorities on the issues and concerns women migrants face at all stages of migration and make them accountable in engaging with protecting the women migrant human and labour rights and to change the society’s perceptions and stereotypes related to the women migrant image.  General public is to be better informed about women migrants and their true contribution to local development, issues they face in the migration process and necessity to advocate for protection and advancement of their rights. The elaborated communications strategy and social campaign contain 5 types of general items as information materials: 3 TV spots, 3 radio spots, (the link:, 5 banners, 5 posters, 5 billboards and 5 leaflets. Also, a number of 6 types of individual items were developed: tote handbags, calendars, folders, notepads, pens and mugs, for distribution and visibility purposes.

    In conclusion, as a result of the actions undertaken with policy makers, development partners, civil society and women migrants, the lessons learnt are as follows:

    -          systematic capacity building initiatives need to take place in order to maintain the institutional memory on mainstreaming migration into development agenda from the gender perspective;

    -          partnership and collaboration through joint efforts is essential in succeeding to have a greater impact of raising awareness on promoting and protecting human and labour rights;

    -          women migrants need to associate in women migrants associations/organisations to become strong and vocal on demanding the fulfilment of their human and labour rights from public authorities;

    -          information on public services and entrepreneurship opportunities for women migrants need to be disseminated to the local level and on a systematic basis in order to reach the service users;

    -          the links between the central and local public administrations need to be fostered in order to have a greater engagement with ordinary citizens, including local women migrants;


    • Allison Petrozziello

      Congratulations to Lilia and the WMW project team in Moldova for your excellent work! Your complementary strategies illustrate several of the different “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of mainstreaming gender into migration and development policies and planning.


      One of these “Do’s”, which has been encouraged by many throughout this discussion, is to obtain input from migrants themselves – women and men. The repeated consultations and efforts to organize women migrant workers in Moldova have resulted in their concerns beginning to be heard and reflected in policies affecting them, as I understand.


      This leads to another “Do”: promoting an empowerment approach. Oftentimes, men’s migration is viewed from an economic perspective but women’s migration is viewed from a protection, social and human rights perspective. Yet empowering women migrant workers may be the most effective form of protection. In countries of origin like Moldova, empowering strategies include improving access to information and communication technologies and to relevant migration information for potential women migrants, as well as providing women-friendly immigration services, as you have done through the Joint Information and Services Bureaus. Empowering strategies in countries of origin might also include certification of women migrants’ existing skills and competencies and improving their access to training and human resources development. These could be supplemented by negotiations with countries of destination for recognition of these skills through increased minimum wages and improved working conditions, and also, as Nati mentions below, portability of social protection.


      Your work in Moldova also reflects two different “Don’ts” that must be avoided when working on these issues from a gender perspective: Don’t separate or isolate women’s issues or gender issues from mainstream migration and development planning decision making processes. While consulting women separately, you have also made sure to integrate the outcomes into national policy processes, incorporating and not isolating their concerns. This will surely lead to a more effective policy response.


      The second is: Don’t stereotype all women migrants with the characteristics of some women migrants. Doing research is key to assessing the diversity of experiences of women migrants, as you have done. This can be used to feed into awareness campaigns like the wonderful videos and other materials you have produced that avoid stereotyping all women migrants as a vulnerable group and highlight their strengths and positive roles and contributions. 

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  • Allison Petrozziello

    Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far to this e-discussion. What an interesting exchange of information, ideas and experiences!

    We are pleased to announce that the discussion will remain open until this Friday 7 October, so there is still time to post if you haven’t done so already, or to make an additional post, or to respond to existing discussion threads.

    Of the 4 discussion questions, perhaps that which has been addressed the least is #2: What are the contributions of women migrants and refugees to achieving inclusive sustainable development? We might think of contributions in economic terms (remittances, investments in businesses and family well-being, contributions to national economies through unpaid/underpaid care work), in social terms (social remittances, referring to the transfer of new ideas, customs, behaviors; through volunteer or community work), and/or political terms (organizing for change).

    Regarding the second part of the question, which refers to inclusive sustainable development, we might refer to some of the elements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are relevant to migrants. For example:

    Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

    3.c Substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially in least developed countries and small island developing States.

    This has different implications for destination and origin countries. On the one hand, increasing numbers of destination countries depend on migrant health care workers (of whom a significant number are women) to meet growing needs as the workforce declines and population ages. On the other hand, origin countries may see shortages of needed health care personnel as many emigrate in search of better wages and conditions.

    The SDGs also provide a framework for protecting and promoting the rights of women and girls on the move (discussion question 4), given the inclusion of targets such as:

    8.8 Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment

    17.18 By 2020, enhance capacity building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing States, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts

    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks so much, Nati, for sharing your view on the need for gender-responsive policies facilitating the portability of social protection for women migrant workers/returnees. Social protection is an integral part of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 1 on ending poverty, SDG 5 on gender equality, and SDG 10 on reducing inequalities. Taking a gender-responsive approach to this would involve, as you suggest, ensuring that assessment of eligibility and actual access to social benefits is fair and reflective of women’s specific needs. One major challenge is the informality of migrant women’s labor relationships, making it difficult for them to meet qualifying conditions (years of contribution). The ILO, which considers social protection a core element of their Decent Work Agenda, makes the case that gender responsive social protection schemes would recognize this reality and ensure that women have access despite their often informal employment status.

      If we are to look at this issue in terms of the contributions of women migrants to social protection, the injustice of the situation is even more pronounced. We see that:

      1)      women migrant workers are making contributions to social protection schemes in destination countries through direct and indirect taxation, but may not benefit there or upon return to their home country;

      2)      women migrants’ remittances are likely to be spent on education, health and family development in origin, often substituting for weak social protection systems in their home country; and

      3)      women migrants are often working in the care sector, including care work that takes place in the home, responding to care gaps not being met by national welfare systems in destination countries.

      Here is hoping that as women migrant workers like yourself get organized and make your concerns heard, that the government of Moldova will include the gender-responsive portability of social protection as part of its efforts to mainstream migration into development and/or part of negotiations of bilateral or multilateral agreements with destination countries. 

    • Nati Vozian

      Thank you for creating this interactive space for discussion and debate on very important topics - migration and women rights. I would like to share my experience of working with women migrants in the Republic of Moldova. Moreover, I identify myself as a circular  women migrant, living and working abroad. Although the Moldovan Government, supported by the donors and international organizations,  have made important progresses in harnessing migration positive impact and addressing human right issue, there are still multiple forms on inequalities and missed opportunities when it comes to women migrants. According to the most recent data, 55% percent of long term migrants are women migrants. Nether less, there are no particular actions targeting their needs, problems and challenges - especially when it comes to access to medical services in the country of destinations and transferability of the social contributions. Most of Moldovan women migrants work in countries like Turkey, Russia and Italy. Moldova has no agreements on transferability of social contributions with these countries, which makes the return of women migrants to Moldova unfair and difficult. Beyond this, the official statistics show a big gap between women and men pensions. Many aged women find themselves helpless and poor.
      In my opinion, it is essential to address, both at global and national level, these problems and implement actions which will protect women migrant sand ensure a fair and better lives for them and their families. 

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  • Jenna Hennebry

    As a final remark, I’d like to reiterate the commitments of the New York declaration and what this means moving forward.

    The New York declaration is an important first step for all migrants and WMWs in particular. It underlines the importance of people centred, humane and dignified, gender responsive migration policies in sending, transit and receiving countries. It encourages states to consider the multidimensional realities of international migration and takes into account the importance of multilateral state cooperation in ensuring effective migration policies in line with the 2030 SDG agenda.

    A commitment to sex and age-disaggregated data will be important in mainstreaming a gender perspective that tackles the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that women migrants face. Nevertheless, we must resist essentializing the woman migrant experience and ensure we recognize their contributions and agency by continuing to include the voices of WMWs, and organizations that represent them, in conversations about migration. The Global Compact is an exciting step forward in ensuring intergovernmental cooperation in creating migrant centered policies that address the drivers of migration in sending countries and respond to the needs of migrants in transit and receiving countries. Within this renewed commitment, we must ensure that the unique needs of women and girl migrants are considered by taking into account that all women migrants are indeed workers, whether engaged in formal or informal labour. The lens of human and labour rights must inform our approach if we are to be successful in this endeavour.

    I enjoyed everyone’s contributions to this discussion and I look forward to future discussions on these topics.

  • Katie Wood
    I wanted to highlight the situation in the UK where women from abroad are facing high charges for maternity care. Maternity Action is a charity that provides advice and information on charging, dealing with debt and access to maternity care.

    Since 2015 overseas visitors who are not ordinarily resident in the UK have been charged for National Health Service (NHS) treatment. This means that women from outside the European Union who do not have indefinite leave to remain or who have not paid a Health Surcharge when applying for leave to stay in the UK are subject to charges for NHS maternity care. As a result many vulnerable migrant women, including women who are working here, are deterred from accessing maternity care.
    Department of Health guidance on the charging regulations states that ‘all maternity services, including routine antenatal treatment, must be treated as being immediately necessary. No woman must ever be denied, or have delayed, maternity services due to charging issues.’ However, in reality many migrant women are deterred or delay seeking maternity care because of worries over charges and debts. In addition, NHS hospitals are entitled to notify the Home Office where a bill of more than £500 has been outstanding for more than two months and this can lead to applications for leave to remain in the UK being refused. 
    CEDAW Article 12 says that '...States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.' Maternity Action provides a specialist advice service for women affected by charging for maternity care and will be feeding into the CEDAW review next year.
    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks, Katie, for your contribution on discrimination against migrant women in the UK regarding access to maternity care, and your intentions to report on it during the next CEDAW review of the UK. In addition to drawing attention to the fact that gender and migration concerns are as pressing in destination countries as they are in origin and transit, it also makes clear that we must look beyond migration and labor laws in our efforts to mainstream gender into migration and development. Social policies, too, must be analyzed from the lens of compliance with CEDAW (especially GR 26), as Jenna points out, to ensure that migrant women’s rights to health and education are being respected.


      Despite the fact that health is a human right upheld in several international conventions, access to services is not always possible, especially for migrants with an irregular migration status and/or low income. In many destination countries, a common belief is that guaranteeing migrants’ access to health care is not an obligation, but an act of generosity paid for by the State. This kind of thinking is what has led to a parallel move on the part of many States: just as policymakers are making migration and asylum policies more restrictive, so too are they restricting social policies for migrants as if this too would somehow “force people out.” To the contrary, when faced with social policy retrenchment, migrants tend to stay on despite the State-sanctioned discrimination and negative consequences in terms of their sexual and reproductive health.

    • Jenna Holliday
      I think this raises some really crucial points about gender and migration. The first being that mainstreaming of gender into migration from a gender perspective, should not just be an issue targeted at countries of origin.  As a country of destination, the UK has some of the more prohibitive policies for women migrants, in particular for domestic workers (see The second critical point in Katie's post is about access to sexual and reproductive health for women on the move. Para 31 of the New York Declaration, adopted at the recent Summit for Refugees and Migrants, provides a commitment made by all member states to provide access to sexual and reproductive health care services. This has to be a minimum standard of care and must not be conditional on payment.

      As Katie points out, the next CEDAW review in the UK will be next year. Investment in this mechanism as a tool to strengthen state accountability to women is important and necessary. General Recommendation 26 para 26 (l) makes it a responsibility of destination countries top ensure that, "Undocumented women migrant workers must have access to legal remedies and justice in cases of risk to life and of cruel and degrading treatment, or if they are coerced into forced labour, face deprivation of fulfilment of basic needs, including in times of health emergencies or pregnancy and maternity..." The UK should be held accountable to that responsibility.

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  • elsie HONGLA
    Hi all I have decided to write this post in French I hope you dont mind .the next one will be in English to balance .En tant que Société civile, communicatrice et femme, on ne peut que constater un manque de suivi dans les processus entamés. Pour signer des conventions diverses, nos dirigeants sont prompt à apposer leur signature sur des documents pour peu qu`ils en tirent un quelconque intérêt ou une bonne publicité personnelle mais l`application de ces mesures n`est pas le plus souvent effective au plan national .Pourquoi ? parce que ce n`est pas une priorité diront certains il y a des problèmes plus urgents, ou encore la mauvaise compréhension du phénomène par certains décideurs presses d`appuyer sur le bouton start sans même savoir comment fonctionne l`engin et que faire en cas de panne surtout. A ceci, on peut rajouter les blocages sociaux-culturels très ancrés chez nous en Afrique et plus marqués auprès de certaines tribus de mon pays plus que d`autres. l`handicap est d`abord mental et déconstruire tous les cliches négatifs est un travail progressif step by step. c`est par la qu`il faut commencer En plus des stratégies globales telles que recently le`` He for She ``de ONU Femmes qui sont à saluer et à laquelle SMIC, l` association dans laquelle je milite à la chance d`être associée. En tant que société civile . je pense qu`une approche régionale serait adéquate car s`appuyant sur les contextes et les handicaps socio -culturels inhérents à chaque grands groupes. Comment expliquer au monsieur de l`extrême Nord du Cameroun que son fils doit aller a l`école au lieu de passer ses journées a garder son troupeau ? Montrer qu`il peut faire les deux s`il est bien organise, que le mariage de sa fille peut attendre qu`elle grandisse, aille a l`école en série scientifique, travaille et s`occupe de lui avec ou sans l`aide de son mari. Comment expliquer au ressortissant de l`ouest (Bamileke) que sa fille en bas âge qu`il envoie durant les vacances vendre des arachides au lieu de s`amuser coure de gros risques pour collecter m`a t-on dit de l`argent qui va l`aider a acheter quelques fournitures a la rentrée. Comment lui montrer que si elle était associée à d`autres enfants ou un frère, une sœur plus âgée, elle serait moins en danger pour cette mission .Il y a pire actuellement avec l`afflux de refugiés centrafricains, pour la plupart vulnérables qui voyagent avec 2 ou 3 enfants et vivent dans des conditions difficiles dans la capitale à plus forte raison en région. Ils sont pour la plupart stigmatisés. Dès leur arrivée se pose une difficile acceptation. Comme ils ne comprennent pas bien le français, ils peuvent se retrouver victimes d`abus divers surtout les femmes. Il est d`ailleurs envisageable que ces réfugies soient perçus comme une menace par certains et une opportunité pour moi . Sur le plan du travail, il y a des secteurs ou il y a un manque .les housekeepers femme de ménage et autres sont de plus en plus difficile à trouver au centre ville ou alors sont hyper exigeantes pour les rémunérations et les horaires .même chose pour pour les creuseurs de puits. Ces deux activités salissantes ou non ne sont pas refusées par ces étrangers dans le besoin et qui parfois ignorent la valeur de leur travail. En tant que mère de deux enfants , j`ai fait le choix au terme de multiples castings, vols, abandons de domicile par des nationales, d`engager une centrafricaine pour changer . Ma mère m`a mise en garde qu`elle va vider ma maison, c`est vous dire mais j`ai tenu bon non sans veiller. elle est chrétienne s`appelle esther est enregistre par l`UNHCR du Cameroun qui lui a délivré comme une CNI .Evidemment les débuts furent terribles , la langue surtout et l`inexpérience . Je devais répéter 3 fois au mois et lui demander si elle a compris et qu`est ce qu`elle a compris mais elle a la volonté d'apprendre. Après tout, ce n`est pas plus difficile d`expliquer mes`` taking care processes`` à une centrafricaine qu`à une camerounaise. Il y aura toujours enseignement. Je la paye au même titre q`une camerounaise mais elles n`ont pas toutes cette chance. Pour l`instant, elle m`a l`air`` honest ``on verra (c`est pas faute de l`avoir testée au début pour vérifier à qui j`ai affaire, j`avoue) C`est dommage que cet aspect concurrentiel du travail et de la rémunération des réfugiés ne soit pas mieux encadrée. Le gré à gré c'est bien mais si une des parties n`est pas accompagnée dans son insertion, informée sur le pays d`accueil et les options de survie, ca peut tres vite virer à l`exploitation. Dans mon pays, on ne sait pas toujours anticiper, on attend les situations de dos au mur. C`est pourquoi même militer peut s`avérer difficile si les concernés ne voient pas de Raison Fondamentale pour Changer (RFC)
    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks so much, Elsie, for sharing your reflections! You mentioned the lack of implementation of existing international agreements, the need to shift prevailing sociocultural attitudes on gender roles, and challenges regarding the integration of refugees from Central Africa in Cameroonian society.

      I would like to echo Jenna’s response in that civil society has an important role to play in creating accountability on the part of governments to uphold and implement the instruments to which they are signatory, such as CEDAW and to ratify those that they haven’t (I see on the OHCHR website, for example, that Cameroon signed the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families in 2009, but has yet to ratify it). There are several ways in which civil society can engage with reporting and monitoring of the implementation of international conventions such that the government must respond. OHCHR’s civil society page has several resources in French and other languages that may be useful in this regard.

      A quick look at the concluding observations from the last CEDAW review of Cameroon shows that a few concerns related to women migrants and refugees have already been raised and recommendations issued:

      21 e) Raise awareness about the risks of trafficking and of the exploitation of migrant women, particularly among women who wish to leave the State party, including “Internet brides”;

      36 d) Ensure that refugee women and internally displaced women do not face discrimination

      Perhaps local CSOs may consider pressuring the State to follow up on these?

      It is interesting to consider the dynamics of South-South corridors and the ways that they relate to and differ from South-North corridors. According to the IOM Migration Profile of Cameroon, the net migration rate has been zero for the last decade, meaning that the number of Cameroonians emigrating is roughly equal to the number of immigrants/refugees entering the country. One idea regarding ways to raise awareness and shift prevailing attitudes is to link the two kinds of flows, promoting a transnational kind of thinking, e.g. “Just as we must protect and respect the rights of Cameroonian migrants (including migrant women) on their way to Europe and elsewhere, we must also protect and respect those coming to make Cameroon their home.”

      Great to hear from you and wishing you all the best in your important work!

    • Jenna Hennebry

      Elsie, merci de votre contribution. A mon avis votre histoire personnelle souligne non seulement l’importance de la présence et les efforts de la société civile à nivelle régionale, mais aussi l’importance de la présence et coopération transfrontalière vu que la migration traverse les frontières. Le CEDAW en particulier souligne les responsabilités des États d’envoi, de transit et de destin des migrants. C’est possible que certains gouvernements signes ces conventions sans avoir aucune intention de les appliquer mais le faits que l’État a ratifié la convention ouvre une espace pour permettre à la société civile, les académiques etc. de pressionné le gouvernement de respecter les droits des hommes et femmes migrantes.  C’est vrai que de fortes différences socioculturelles peuvent créer des malentendus et préjuger, et il faut combattre c’est stéréotypes avec l’éducation et rencontres positives (comme vous avez souligné avec expérience avec la refugier que vous avez employée) et l’article 10 de la convention CEDAW souligne cette responsabilité. L’importance de la langue, comme bien vous décrivez, ne peut pas être ignore quand on parle de l’éducation.

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  • Hari KC
    Based on my lived-experience in Nepal, I’d like to share my views on some of the problems facing women migrant workers. A large number of women from Nepal have gone to different countries (majorities to the Middle East and the Gulf countries) and mainly work in care industry/domestic work, despite a partial ban (only women over 30 years of age can go for certain countries) that the government has imposed. Most of these women migrants go abroad through “agents” and in most cases via India as a transit point because it makes things easier for agents since Nepal shares an open border with India. The Nepal government doesn’t even know how many Nepali women are working abroad -- let alone the gender disaggregated data on women migrant workers -- because only a small number of women use “official” channels for migration.

    Some harrowing tales of how women migrant workers suffer abuses and exploitations of many kinds and in many forms become public through the media (thanks to the media), but many such tales, I suspect, are ever expressed by women for fear of social-cultural stigmas and taboos. Some women migrants even return with small babies (they don’t know who their fathers are), and these women face even more stigma and discrimination in society. I think the tales like these have much deeper roots that relate to the first stage of migration. When it comes to protecting rights of women migrants in general and Nepali women migrants in particular, it is important to identify those roots and all the pitfalls, malpractices and what not, and then start working upwards. If done so, some of the problems and vulnerabilities of women migrants could at least be minimized though not completely resolved, and at least women should be empowered and enabled to make informed decisions.

    I therefore think that the first and foremost priority should be on improving the ways, processes and means through which the initial journey of migration begins. The roots of the problems, at least partly, lie with the governance issues at the national, subnational and local levels, and addressing those pitfalls is a must. In most cases, the migration journey for most women migrants in Nepal begins in private rooms and tea stalls in villages, where local “agents” (they are in fact predators and not officially licensed) who have connections with “main agents” in cities lure them of attractive salaries abroad. Most women have to resort to local moneylenders for loans at high interest rates, and the commissions from the money they have to pay are distributed among agents as per their roles and hierarchies. The longer the agents’ circuit, the more they have to pay. What is often not told or even hidden from them is what the work they would be doing really involves and what skills/training they would need to have. Most women believe in what the agents say because most of such women are uneducated or have little education, and this prevents them from being able to make informed decisions. Also, the other important issue is who really owns the money women migrant workers send home. In many cases, the money women migrants send home is misused by husbands and in that cases women migrants become vulnerable to further layers of exploitations. That means that the lack of education is linked with women’s ability to make informed decisions and the issue of protecting women migrant workers from abuses and exploitation is therefore linked with other social and cultural issues and power relations that also need to be addressed to seek enduring solutions to the problems. The most important issue is, I think, is the need to improve governance of migration at the national level not only through making laws and rules but also through their effective implementation.

    What’s more, the government of Nepal has an ambivalent attitude when it comes to the mobility and labour rights of Nepali women and girls. The government’s decision to put a partial ban on women migration reflects this ambivalence. The ban is not the solution. To the contrary, the ban has rather given rise to a covert trafficking industry and that industry is sadly backed up by some sections of the police and government bureaucracies. Civil society organizations working at the grassroots in both sending and destination countries should form networks, both horizontal and vertical, and they shouldn’t only share experiences but also report cases of violations of women migrants’ rights. Putting pressure on both sending countries and receiving countries (both “bottom up” from national and local civil society organizations and “top down” from global mechanisms and instruments of migration governance.
    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thank you, Hari, for your post on the situation of women migrant workers from Nepal. You may be interested in scrolling down to read the 21 September post of Nisha Baniya, lawyer for workers in GEFONT, Nepal, who touches upon similar challenges as those you mention – lack of data, irregular migration, harrowing forms of abuse and exploitation especially against those going to the Middle East.

      Your analysis of different strategies needed to protect WMWs from exploitation is quite useful, as it focuses on multiple levels. Gender analysis must always be conducted on multiple levels, in order to identify strategic points of intervention. You have already pointed to several:

      MICRO – consulting with and observing women at community level; educating/training potential migrant women so they can make informed decisions; promoting women’s empowerment and greater equality in intrahousehold gender relations

      MESO – monitoring and creating greater accountability among migration intermediaries (agents, recruiters, moneylenders); working to eliminate stigma and stereotypes through media

      MACRO – improving government actors’ capacity to engage in gender-response policymaking and effective implementation of labour and migration policies at the national level; produce sex-disaggregated data on women migrant workers

      LINKING OF THE LEVELS: linking civil society organizations from grassroots with national and international CSOs; improving governance at all 3 levels

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  • Alessandra Pierella

    Beaucoup de Pays, partout dans le monde, ont signé les conventions sur la protection des droits de l'homme et, plus en particulier, sur le droit des femmes,  notamment le CEDAW ou la Convention International pour la Protection des Droits de tous les travailleurs migrants et les membres de leurs familles.

    Ce qu’à mon avis reste un aspect important sur lequel travailler est la réelle mise en pratique de ces conventions de la part des Etats signataires: trop souvent ces déclarations ne restent que du papier, cela dans toutes les parties du monde.

    C'est pour ça que je retiens fondamental travailler à deux niveaux au même temps: à la base, avec les acteurs de la société civile et les populations, mais aussi avec les gouvernements en menant un forte travail d'advocacy et de sensibilisation.

    Pour pouvoir exercer ses droit, les femmes et les filles doivent avant tout être à connaissance et être conscientes des droits qui leur sont dus: il faut avant tout informer, sensibiliser et stimuler/soutenir la prise d'initiative.

    Il faudrait aussi faire pression sur les gouvernements pour qu'ils s'engagent réellement à mettre en pratique les accords signés: travailler pour rendre visibles les violations des droits des femmes et des filles, utiliser les outils présents au niveau international pour faire en sort que ces droits soient appliqués.

    Travaillant au Sénégal en collaboration avec la diaspora sénégalaise en Italie, je me rends de plus en plus compte des difficultés auxquelles les migrants doivent faire face tout au long de leur expérience. De plus, les femmes et les filles dans les processus migratoires peuvent être en périple à plusieurs reprises et de plusieurs façons: pendant le trajet, sur le lieu de travail, physiquement et économiquement.

    La logique voudrait que plus haut est le niveau de périple, plus nombreux sont aussi les mécanismes de protection mis en place pour faire face à ces périples. Malheureusement, on a l'impression que cela n'est toujours pas le cas.

    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks so much, Alessandra, for sharing your insights based on your work in Senegal.

      You have touched upon two running themes throughout this discussion: the need to actually implement conventions, and to coordinate/intervene at multiple levels. In my previous post responding to Deyanira we mentioned mid-level public officials as actors in need of training and pressure for increased accountability, to complement work at the grassroots and national levels as well.

      The Joint Migration & Development Initiative has accumulated important experience in working on these issues at the local level. Their portal has lots of resources available in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic, including on the local dimension of migration and development. This is important because migrants leave, move, live, work, and return to local places, and local authorities are responsible for protecting their rights, regardless of their migration status.  I would also like to participants’ attention an important training tool available on their site called the “My JMDI Toolbox.” It is a flexible and comprehensive tool for local stakeholders (local authorities, civil society, migrants’ associations, academia, international organizations etc.) on how to mainstream migration into local development planning in order to be able to better harness the development potential of migration. UN Women was involved in an advisory capacity in the development of this toolkit to ensure that it takes into account the gender dimensions of migration and development.

    • Allison Petrozziello

      First, a rough courtesy translation of Alessandra´s post, for those of us who do not have French:

      Alessandra: “Many countries around the world have signed the conventions on the protection of human rights and, in particular, on women's rights, including the CEDAW or the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of all migrant workers and members of their families.

      In my opinion more work must be done to ensure these are put into practice by the signatory States: too often these statements remain only on paper, in all parts of the world.

      That's why it is fundamental to work on two levels simultaneously: at the base, with civil society actors and the people, but also with governments doing strong advocacy work and outreach.

      In order to exercise their rights, women and girls must be knowledgeable and aware of the rights they hold: first they must be informed, sensitized and encouraged / supported through the initiative.

      Pressure should also be put on governments to actually agree to implement the signed agreements: work to make visible violations of the rights of women and girls and then use these tools at the international level to make sure these rights are applied.

      Working in Senegal in collaboration with the Senegalese diaspora in Italy, I realize more and more the difficulties migrants face throughout their experience. In addition, women and girls can be vulnerable throughout the migration process several times and in several ways: during the trip, in the workplace, physically and economically.

      Logic suggests that the longer the journey, the greater the number of protection mechanisms to protect them throughout. Unfortunately, it seems that this is still not the case.”

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    Desde la Frontera Sur de México trabajamos con compañeras migrantes originarias de Chiapas, para nosotras es importante visibilizar que las dificultades también son para migrantes internas, es decir, mujeres que no salen de las fronteras de sus países, pero se encuentran en su caminar  fronteras simbólicas y materiales que les impide acceder a sus derechos. Las mujeres indígenas continúan dedicándose a los trabajos de cuidados que son poco valorados socialmente, y si además son indígenas la discriminación y explotación es aún más grave. Hemos sabido de casos donde les pagan 1 dólar al día por más de 8 horas de trabajo. En este sentido, nos parece importante que la perspectiva de género sea combinada con la perspectiva intercultural, ya que justamente las desigualdades y exclusiones históricas se interseccionan y profundizan. Me parece que además de trabajar sobre políticas públicas nacionales, es necesario sensibilizar a funcionarios públicos para que ubiquen con claridad sus responsabilidades hacia los derechos humanos basados en  los tratados internacionales que el país ha ratificado. También es importante que las mujeres continuen generando maneras de defenderse, con información, redes de apoyo y desarrollo de habilidades; la semana pasada en un taller hablando sobre las violencias que viven cuando migran como trabajadoras del hogar, las compañeras tsotsiles decían que lo primero que había que hacer para cambiar la situación era "tener valor y perder el miedo", esta pequeña y potente frase nos llevó a reflexionar ¿de dónde se saca el valor? ¿ cómo le hace una para dejar de tener miedo? y por supuesto que es complejo ya que esas inseguridades, miedos, carencia de valor para saberte acredora de derechos, es producto de muchas otras violencias estructurales que están insertas en los corazones y mentes. Por ello es fundamental el desarrollo de capacidades y habilidades de las compañeras migrantes para poder exigir y defender sus derechos. La sociedad en general deberíamos cuestionarnos las formas en que vemos a las mujeres migrantes indígenas y cómo se desprecia el trabajo del hogar y cómo se desprecia lo indígena. Para nosotras ha sido útil reflexionar sobre el diamante del cuidado, porque deja ver que el estado tiene mucha responsabilidad, pero también otros actores que tenemos que seguir pensando lo que nos toca hacer para garantizar los derechos de las mujeres trabajadoras migrantes.
    • Allison Petrozziello

      Mil gracias, Deya, por compartir tus reflexiones a partir del importante trabajo que vienen realizando con y para las migrantes indígenas en el sur de México. Ciertamente son múltiples las formas de discriminación que enfrentan las mujeres migrantes; igualmente el CEDAW nos da un marco para combatir la discriminación desde un enfoque interseccional. En República Dominicana, el comité CEDAW en sus últimas observaciones al Estado (2013, CEDAW/C/DOM/CO/6-7) expresó su preocupación por “la persistencia de múltiples formas de discriminación contra la mujer en el Estado parte, especialmente contra las mujeres de origen haitiano” y recomendó que se “Introduzca en la legislación el concepto de discriminación múltiple y garantice reparaciones adecuadas para las víctimas de este tipo de discriminación”. Dado que se quiere impulsar un proyecto de Ley contra toda forma de discriminación, este tipo de recomendación da pistas a la sociedad civil sobre lo que ahí debería estar incluida.

      El trabajo que vienen realizando Uds. con las mismas mujeres me parece fenomenal. Y ahí en medio del post mencionaste algo importantísimo sobre la necesidad de que los mismos funcionarios tomen conciencia de sus responsabilidades en tanto garantes de derechos. Creo que cuando hablamos de los múltiples niveles en los que tenemos que trabajar, muchas veces vamos desde lo macro (tratados internacionales, gobierno central) directamente al micro (capacitaciones con las mismas personas migrantes), sin pasar por el nivel meso, donde podríamos encontrar precisamente funcionari@s de nivel medio, técnic@s, etc. que en el mejor de los casos simplemente desconocen sus responsabilidades. Ha habido experiencias interesantes en este proyecto global de ONU Mujeres del fortalecimiento de capacidades con actores gubernamentales, por ejemplo el que reseñé de Filipinas  en mi respuesta a Marilen Soliman el 20 de septiembre. Ojalá sigamos pensando en formas creativas de establecer alianzas con personas que se encuentran en el nivel medio y que puedan trabajar desde “adentro” a favor de la protección de sus derechos.


      Thanks so much, Deya, for sharing your reflections based on the important work you have been doing with and for indigenous migrant women in the south of Mexico. Migrant women certainly face multiple forms of discrimination; CEDAW gives us a framework to combat this discrimination from an intersectional perspective. In the Dominican Republic, the CEDAW committee’s final observations to the State (2013, CEDAW/C/DOM/CO/6-7) expressed concern over the “persistence of multiple forms of discrimination against women in the State party specially women of Haitian origin” and recommended to “Introduce in its legislation the concept of multiple discrimination, and ensure appropriate remedies for victims of such discrimination.” Given that there is now interest in promoting anti-discrimination legislation, this kind of recommendation orients civil society as to what might be included therein.  

      The work that you have been doing with migrant women is phenomenal. In the middle of your post you mentioned a very important strategy of raising awareness of public officials of their responsibilities as duty bearers. When we talk about the multiple levels on which we must work – as I.F. mentions in the preceding post – we often focus on either the macro level (international treaties, central governments) or the micro level (trainings for migrants), without considering what must be done at the meso level, which is exactly where we will find mid-level officials, technical people, etc. who in the best case scenario simply are not aware of their responsibilities. The UN Women WMW project has had some interesting experiences building capacity of government actors, such as the experience in the Philippines working with legislative staff on how to do a CEDAW-based legal review, which I posted on 20 Sept. in response to Marilen Soliman. I hope we can continue to think of creative ways to build alliances with people at the mid-level who can work “from the inside” to protect migrant rights. 

    • Allison Petrozziello

      Mil gracias, Deyanira! First I will post a quick English translation for ease of reference to other participants, and then I will respond.

      Deyanira: “Here on the southern border of Mexico we are working with migrant women from Chiapas. For us it is important to note that there are also difficulties facing internal migrants, ie, women who do not leave the borders of their countries, yet still face symbolic and material borders along the way that prevent them from accessing their rights. Indigenous women continue engaging in care work which is assigned little social value, and if they are also indigenous the discrimination and exploitation is even more serious. We have heard of cases where they are paid $1 a day for more than 8 hours of work. In this sense, it seems important that a gender perspective is combined with an intercultural perspective, since the multiple forms of inequality and historical exclusion intersect and deepen. It seems that besides working on national public policy, it is necessary to raise awareness of public officials so they can clearly identify their responsibilities in terms of guaranteeing human rights based on international treaties that the country has ratified. It is also important that women continue creating ways to defend themselves with information, support networks and skills development. Last week at a workshop we were talking about the violence they face when migrating as domestic workers. Our Tzotzil compañeras said the first thing they had to do to change the situation was "have courage and no fear". This small but powerful phrase led us to reflect on where courage comes from and how one can stop being afraid. Of course it is complex because these insecurities, fears, lack of courage to recognize oneself as a rights holder, are the product of many other structural forms of oppression that are embedded in hearts and minds. It is therefore essential to continue building the capacity and skills of fellow migrants to demand and defend their rights. Society in general should question the ways in which we see indigenous migrant women and how domestic work and indigenous people are looked down upon. For us it has been useful to reflect on the concept of the care diamond, because it reveals that the state has a lot of responsibility, but so do other actors as well. We have to keep thinking about what we have to do to guarantee the rights of women migrant workers.”



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  • I. F.

    I believe that coordination of actions at various levels, at the same time, is key to ensure the protection women and girls on the move, and to enhance opportunities for their empowerment and full development.  States must ratify and comply with the international instruments that protect the rights of women. International organizations and agencies, like UN Women can play a key role in raising awareness and mainstreaming gender issues at the international level. Efforts should also be made to mainstream gender in the media and social media, showing both the challenges that women migrants face in their journeys, as well as their agency and key role in promoting development. This will help promote reflection, constructive debate and hopefully new ideas. It is also important that key Committees like CEDAW and CMW, for example, enhance collaboration so as to foster a more comprehensive approach in addressing issues concerning women migrant workers. The recent joint statement by CMW, CEDAW and UN Women represents a step towards such efforts. Civil Society Organizations have of course a crucial role to play, both at the grassroots level and in advocating for making the voices and specific needs of migrant women not only heard, but taken into concrete actions. CSOs working ‘in the field’ should be consulted and brought to the table more often (always!). Indeed, women and girls on the move have to participate in the planning, design, implementation and monitoring/follow up of any actions and measures that involve them. It is a matter of respecting women’s rights, of enhancing sustainability, of ensuring equal access to opportunities for all, empowering women

    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks so much for sharing these examples of what can and should be happening at multiple levels to protect and empower migrant women and girls!

      Consultation with CSOs and migrants themselves continues to be a running theme in this discussion. Yet, we are aware that the format itself of an e-discussion may not lend itself for these purposes, not least because of the (gendered) digital divide.

      You have mentioned the CEDAW and CMW committees. We are interested in hearing more from participants about the ways in which you have used the conventions and their review processes – or others such as UPR or mechanisms such as the special rapporteurs – to report on and increase States’ accountability to migrant women and girls’ rights.  

      Insights about how to follow up on recommendations to ensure implementation at national level are also welcome! OHCHR's civil society section has several useful resources on how to engage with the different spaces and processes.

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  • Jenna Hennebry


    There have been some great points brought up in this discussion and I will attempt to comment on many in the coming days before the discussion closes.

    I would like to draw the discussion’s attention to the Joint Statement by the CMW, the CEDAW, UN Women and the OHCHR which was released September 19th, 2016. The statement calls upon States to recognize and address the distinct needs of women and girls in national and international policy responses to migration, and that States dedicate sufficient resources, both financial and human, to address the needs in practice.

    The Joint Statement urges States to implement their legal obligations under CEDAW Recommendation No. 26 (2008) on women migrant workers CEDAW Recommendation No. 32 (2014) on the gender-related dimensions of refugee status, asylum, nationality and statelessness of women.

    ·         All sections of the ICRMW, but in particular General Comments No. 1 (2011) on Migrant Domestic Workers and No. 2 (2013) on the rights of migrant workers in an irregular situation and members of their families

    The Statement reminds us of the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, as well as the risk of sexual and gender-based violence that migrant women and girls face. It concludes with practical recommendations, including sex and age-disaggregated data collection and analysis and the inclusion of women migrant workers in the decision and policy making processes.

    This Joint Statement is very complete and includes many of the topics and concerns already mentioned in this discussion. It should be regarded as a tool to remind States and actors of their legal obligations to women migrants and their families.


    See more at:

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  • In many parts of the world, especially Asia and Africa, girls' access to education is very restricted. In undeveloped countries women are often denied opportunities for education as girl child and women face many obstacles that include:  forced marriages; early pregnancy; prejudice based on gender stereotypes at home, at school and in the community; rapes and violence.

    this  has suggested the inclusion of: an account of labour migration that highlights the situation of women; emphasis on equal opportunities and treatment for migrant men and women; and a call for the development of policies that address the circumstances of women migrants.  Further attention should be given to the links between the feminization of poverty and migration patterns, taking into account poor families’ survival strategies and the roles of women and girl child.

    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thank you to Ambassador Dr. Hajiya Asabe Shehu Yar'Adua for contextualizing women’s migration within the larger issues of poverty and gender inequalities, and to Monica and Jenna for building on this discussion thread. Indeed, when girls and women face violence (forced marriage/pregnancy, rape, gang violence) and discrimination (in access to education, opportunities), migration is often seen as a way out and/or a way to help their families living in poverty.

      If a larger goal is not only to make migration a safe and positive experience for both women and men, but also to make migration a choice for all in the first place, then greater efforts must be made to eliminate gender equality and promote girls’ and women’s empowerment in countries of origin as well. Gender analyses of migration reveal that while both men and women migrate for economic reasons, their motives may actually differ based on gender discrimination in the labour market in origin, violence against women and State incapacity to protect victims, etc. The SDGs provide a solid framework for ramping up efforts to eliminate these, as Jenna points out. 

    • Jenna Hennebry

      Thank you Asabe and Monica for your discussion on this point. The language of the Sustainable Development Goals provides a framework with which to communicate with States regarding the rights of WMWs in sending and receiving countries. The following SDGs are particularly valuable:

      ·         5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.

      ·         5.6 Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences. 
      10.4 Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality. 

      ·         5.2 Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation 

      ·         5.4 Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate

      ·         8.7 Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms

      ·         8.8 Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment 

    • Monica Corona
      The same happens in Latin America, and in this part of the world, there are very poor contries, suffering from violence and inequality, so many women decide to and HAVE TO migrate trying to scape situation of violence and in order to send some money to their families staying in the country of origin. A lot of central american women suffer of exploitaition and discrimination when they migrate to Mexico and or to United States. They have no labour rights, no human rights, they are exploited. It is necessary that the governments (national and locals) in the countries of destiny develop public policies and programmes in order to protect this population, that are workers, helping mexican families with their work.
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  • Andrea Milan

    Thanks to the Promoting and Protecting Women Migrant Workers’ Labour and Human Rights project team for organizing the e-discussion, and to Allison for moderating it!

    You have already mentioned some of the key issues associated with gender mainstreaming in the context of migration and development. I just wanted to share few thoughts on the third question you posed for this e-discussion:
    How can a gender perspective be mainstreamed into migration and asylum policies and other national legislation (labour, trafficking, etc.)? What are the benefits of doing so?

    In particular, I would like to underline the importance of gender responsive data collection as well as of a stronger involvement of academia as a key step towards gender mainstreaming in migration policies.

    Unfortunately, most migration-related surveys that form the basis for policy interventions take the household, rather than the individual or the community, as their main unit of reference. This is in line with the “New Economics of Labour Migration” approach - currently at the heart of academic debates on migration - which posits that migration follows a decision aimed at maximizing income and/or minimize risks at the household level.

    I think this focus on the household creates a knowledge gap both regarding power dynamics within households, including the inequality between men and women, and regarding gender dynamics that determine access to and success in the labour market as well as economic and political leadership. Moreover, the voice and specific role and needs of women and girls tends to be lost, especially when a “household head” (usually a man) responds to a household survey on behalf of all household members.  

    In this context, I believe that the engagement of academics and international organizations in developing gender responsive surveys migration will be a key driver of gender responsiveness of migration policies, and of the promotion and protection of women migrant workers’ labour and human rights.

    I also believe the achievement of SDG target 17.18, particularly as it relates to census data, will be a key step towards gender mainstreaming in migration and development policy:

    By 2020, enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing States, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts.

    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks to Andrea and Jenna for pointing out the need for sex-disaggregated and gender-responsive data reflecting the specific situations, intrahousehold power dynamics, differences, and needs among male and female migrants. This kind of data should serve as the basis for creating protection policies, and also for mainstreaming gender concerns into migration and development plans. 

      Although some States have made efforts to do so, progress continues to be slow on this front. To this end, CEDAW General Recommendation No. 26 on women migrant workers recommends that States parties which are countries of origin and destination “conduct and support quantitative and qualitative research, data collection and analysis to identify the problems and needs faced by women migrant workers in every phase of the migration process in order to promote the rights of women migrant workers and formulate relevant policies” as per CEDAW article 3.


      An overarching policy issue relevant to all migrant women is the need for protection against gender discrimination/exclusion in all phases of the migration process, to ensure women’s equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from labour migration. Yet gender stereotypes continue to influence the ways women are considered in relation to migration and development: specifically, they are frequently seen as vulnerable dependents or potential victims in need of protection, rather than as migrant workers contributing to development of countries of origin and destination alike. This misperception is reinforced by migration policies which assume male migrants are breadwinners and female migrants are dependent family members, a model that no longer reflects reality, given the trend of feminization of migration in most corridors worldwide. Sex-disaggregated data are required to challenge such stereotypes and to create a more accurate and nuanced understanding of the gender dimensions of migration.


      Care must be taken to avoid characterizing migrant women workers generically as a vulnerable group, and instead focus on identifying specific inequalities and contexts which may place certain sub-groups of migrants in a disproportionately vulnerable position, and therefore, in need of protection. Some key policy questions for which data are needed include:

      ·         Women migrant workers’ labour rights, especially in sectors lacking adequate legal protections, such as domestic work, sex work, or entertainment-related services

      ·         Gender-based violence against migrant women throughout the migration cycle (in transit and in situ), in public, at work, and at home

      ·         Gender differences in access to regular migration channels, which may lead greater numbers of women than men to become undocumented, migrate irregularly and/or risk being trafficked

      ·         Migrant women’s access to social protection including health services, particularly in destination and transit countries.


      Among the key challenges is that sex is routinely not included in migration data, particularly at the aggregate and global level (e.g., World Bank Migration Database). Data that fail to disaggregate by sex and migrant status may inadvertently conceal exclusion and inequalities, making it difficult to measure progress and dismantle entrenched patterns of discrimination against migrant women.

      UN Women’s chapter on data needed for the protection of women migrants in the Global Migration Group’s forthcoming publication Measuring international migration and its impact on development: A practical guide, recommends the following:

      ·         Ensure that sex is included as a variable in the study design and data are presented in disaggregated fashion at all levels of analysis.

      ·         Triangulate among various data sources to overcome data gaps. No single source can or will capture the multiple dimensions of the vulnerabilities that migrant women face in their homes, on the move, and in the workplace.

      ·         Collect specific data on violence against women migrant workers. As indicated in the 2009 Report of the Secretary-General, specific data is needed on the different forms of violence, perpetrators and the context in which the violence takes place, be it the home, workplace or detention facility.


      ·         Be creative: identify new potential data sources targeting protection gaps for migrant women in transit and destination countries. Use qualitative and quantitative data.  Take specific measures through, for example, special data collection surveys, paying particular attention to domestic workers, undocumented women migrants, and women migrant workers in the sex and entertainment sectors. 

    • Jenna Hennebry

      Thank you Andrea, you bring up a very important point about the need for gender-disaggregated data collection as a key step towards the gender mainstreaming of migration policies. I also agree that this relates well to SDG 17.18.

      Building on your comment, in addition to most migrant related surveys taking into consideration the household rather than the individual or community, sex trafficking victims are commonly overrepresented in data while forced labour victims are commonly underrepresented (UNODC, 2014). These data blind spots do not allow policies to properly recognize or address problems faced by WMWs, nor do they recognize the capacities and potential of the WMWs.

      The forthcoming UN Report, Women Working Worldwide: A Situational Analysis of Women Migrant Workers, recognizes these data gaps and calls upon States, researchers and advocates to participate in improving data collection methods.

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  • Diana Cheianu-Andrei

    Migration is still challenging for the Republic of Moldova providing opportunities but also risks to country’s sustainable development prospects. Many surveys have been conducted to reveal different aspects of this process – migration trends, remittances, situation of households with migrants, the consequences of migration on certain vulnerable groups (children, the elderly) etc., and fewer have been carried out on the existing services for migrants, difficulties Moldovan migrants face when turning back and integrating in the RM after migration.

    In 2015 was done a study to identify local public institutions and non-governmental organizations active in migration field. It has involved the analysis of activities of institutions and organizations providing services in the next fields: (i) migration and reintegration for the purpose of employment, promotion and observance of migrants’ rights abroad as well as their social reintegration after migration; (ii) fighting trafficking in human beings (HT) and support in the rehabilitation and reintegration of victims of human trafficking; (iii) support in the rehabilitation and reintegration of victims of domestic violence.

    After that the national round table was organized to present the results of the study Mapping of government and non-governmental institutions active in the field of migration and their Capacity building plan and the outcomes of local public consultations held in 3 regions of the Republic of Moldova in December 2015.

    The survey data on services provided to migrants, including returnee women, revealed the following: (i)      Returnees are not acquainted with services available neither how to access them; (ii) Local public authorities and non-governmental organizations are not really acquainted with other services provided at the local level besides their services.

    In this regard, several actions shall be taken to improve services destined to migrants, particularly to returnee women and create a dialogue platform for migrant women to access existing services:

    1.        Strengthen relationships and efforts in advertising relevant services to central and local authorities, NGOs and migrants.

    2.        Create and develop the online communication network of returnees.

    3.        Appoint a secretariat that will be supported financially, to manage the online communication network of returnees aimed at strengthening the network of returnees and local service providers targeting migrants.

    4.        Provide advice and expertise to active groups of returnees (including the established secretariat) to guide them in creating non-governmental organizations (status, registration, communication with authorities etc.) and developing an operational plan for 1-2 years.

    5.        Build capacities and provide training to network members, local service providers targeting migrants and local public administration.

    6.        Organize lobbying for the development of services destined to returnees at the local level by the newly created network and non-governmental organizations providing services to migrants.

    7.        Development of the Guide (information about institutions and NGOs dealing with employment, human trafficking, with basic information including the address, phone number of institutions/organizations, target groups and services provided) for migrants in an accessible way to support returnees benefit from the services existing for them.

    8.        Join efforts with local service providers to be able to offer more effective services and to reach returnees from rural areas.

    9.        Offer small grants to non-governmental organizations providing services to returnees. Accessing the small grants, the organizations shall benefit from coaching and monitoring in activities related to management, including financial management, PR activities, thus strengthening their competences.

    10.      Promote services destined to returnees through embassies and diplomatic missions of the Republic of Moldova (leaflets describing services, posters, handbook for returnees, etc.) and teach leaders of Diaspora associations to disseminate the information available.

    11.      Strengthen partnerships between non-governmental organizations providing services to returnees, local public authorities and Moldovan Diaspora associations.

    12.      Involve migrants in planning local activities and implementing community projects.

    13.      Engage the media in promoting/advertising the best practices related to the integration of returnees and activities carried out in local communities with migrants’ participation.

    Also, returnees, including women returnees shoul become more active in (i)es
    tablishing a network o to ensure the effective communication with CPA, LPA, international organizations, civil society and to promote their rights; (ii) conducting activities to share migration and post-migration experience and to disseminate best practices; (iii) organizing local activities in partnership with LPA, organizations providing services to migrants in the Republic of Moldova and Moldovan Diaspora associations. In such way the returned women from migration will become a voice and a force. 



    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks so much, Diana, for sharing these excellent measures to improve migrant women and returnees’ access to services!

      Recently we also learned about Moldova’s initiatives in terms of outreach to migrant women and mainstreaming migration in development policies through the intervention of Ambassador Vlad Lupan, Representative of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Moldova to the UN, at the September 16 side event “Protecting the Labour and Human Rights of Women Migrant Workers in the Context of Addressing Large Movements of Migrantswhich UN Women organized together with the Permanent Missions of Moldova, Mexico and the Philippines at UN Headquarters. You can see the video of the event at the link above.

      H.E. Mr. Vlad Lupan mentioned that 30 to 40% of the entire active workforce of Moldova has migrated abroad, and that women represent the majority of Moldovan migrants (over 55%). A major challenge they face, as mentioned in previous posts in this e-discussion, is de-skilling: while about 35% of women migrants are professionally and academically highly skilled, they find work mostly in domestic work, followed by 30% in sales, 10% in production, and very few in skilled professions such as medicine or law.

      The emphasis that Diana mentions on returnee women appears quite strategic, based on what H.E. Mr. Lupan mentioned as well. About 60% of Moldovan migrants would like to return to their home country, according to the IOM Extended Migration Profile. Circular migration is also an important trend, so training for returnees and outreach regarding existing services is likely to have ripple effects both when if and when they migrate again, and also among the diaspora with whom they enter in contact.

      Finally, we learned about efforts of the Moldovan government in recent years to mainstream migration in development policies, such as the 2010 opening of the Office of Diaspora Relations and the Joint Information and Services Bureau, which has been providing the specific information for women migrants, and the creation of gender focal points in all agencies dealing with social and economic development to facilitate the mainstreaming of gender.

      Another theme that has been mentioned in this e-discussion is the importance of creating consultation mechanisms with migrants (and refugees) themselves – women and men – so they have constructive input in the policies that affect them. In Moldova, the Women Migrant Workers project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family and the Bureau for Relations with the Diaspora, has arranged for the participatory consultation of migrant women at various stages of migration (including returnees) during multiple Diaspora Congresses, ensuring that their voices were fully reflected in the outcome documents. These, in turn, were used as an input in creating the country’s first-ever National Diaspora Strategy 2025, approved in February 2016, which as I understand fully incorporates a gender perspective. Many congrats to colleagues in Moldova on this achievement! 

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  • Most countries lack political will to protect asylum seekers. Countries need to stop politics on the issue of migration and come up with ways of mobilizing resources that will support women and girls who are running away from war zones to enhance their movement  by providing them with means of crossing harsh deserts and seas/oceans safely and access safe zones. Countries that are close to those countries affected by conflicts should open their bounders for asylum seekers and refugees. This is a role to be played by every country by creating safe zones for refugees.
    Keeping women and girls in the camps will not help to solve their problems. Refugees and migrants have skills that they can utilize to develop the counties they settle. Skills audit of refugees need to be done once received to enable the host country to identify areas where they can be utilized. 
    Women refugees will like to be given job opportunities to enable them provide for their families rather than being kept in camps and fed!
    They need to be given jobs and business opportunities so that they can live a normal life as they used to.
    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thank you, Robert, for your reframing of refugee women and girls as people with agency and skills to contribute, in addition to persons in need of protection for safe passage!

      Conducting a skills audit is a good idea – this too must be done in a gender-responsive way to detect gender differences, recognize a full range of potential skills, and thus avoid de-skilling and gender stereotyping. Several such skills audits have been conducted among refugee populations in the UK, including some specifically with refugee women focusing on sectors with  labour shortages, such as teaching, nursing, and medical professions. Of course, policies must be put in place to grant asylum seekers the right to work – including female family members who may or may not be the principal applicant.

      In June 2016, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s GENDER BALANCE REPORT called for a Gender Sensitive Response to the Migrant and Refugee Influx in Europe, noting the need for a gender perspective in integration efforts, especially in terms of accessing the labour market:

      We must not see the needs of women simply as a burden. Female migrants and refugees will become contributing members of our communities and countries if we make the effort to integrate them successfully. In Canada, two recent appointments to the position of the Governor General, the Queen’s representative in Canada, have been refugees: Adrienne Clarkson and Michaëlle Jean. Refugee and migrant women and girls can make significant social, economic and political contributions to their host countries, as well as playing roles in resolving conflicts in their home countries.

      The report goes on to call for specific measures to facilitate labour market integration for women refugees and asylum seekers, suggesting language classes, literacy programmes and other training and to ensure that refugee girls have access to education; recognition of foreign credentials; funding for settlement and human rights organizations to work with refugee women; childcare and care for other dependents; and training of female cultural mediators. 

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  • Inkeri von Hase

    Working on the migration portfolio of UN Women at Headquarters, I have the privilege of attending many high-level events on migration. Just yesterday, I attended an event organized by OHCHR, PICUM and CTPSR entitled “Protecting Human Rights in the Context of Large Movements of Migrants and Refugees”. It often strikes me that migration is still considered by many stakeholders as a gender-neutral process implying that the experience of men and women on the move is the same. While yesterday quite a few of the distinguished panelists referred to the particular situations of refugee and migrant women and girls, in respect to normative frameworks attention was only drawn to the ICMWF and ILO Convention 189 on domestic work. The CEDAW General Recommendation 26 (on women migrant workers) and General Recommendation 32 (on the gender-related dimensions of refugee status, asylum, nationality and statelessness of women) were not mentioned at all. The limited awareness of the existing norms and standards on the protection of rights of refugee and migrant women means that the likelihood that they are implemented is slim. This is disheartening, because women and girls on the move have distinct needs and priorities, and face gendered vulnerabilities. This includes high risks of sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) such as early and forced marriage, transactional sex/ survival sex, domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment and physical assault in countries of origin, transit and destination. Accessible and confidential GBV prevention and response services are critical, and so is access to legal assistance, comprehensive healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health services and psychosocial support. It is time that all stakeholders recognize the distinct protection risks and needs of women and girls, and formulate and implement gender-responsive migration policies that effectively cater to their lived realities. This requires the active involvement and participation of migrant women and girls. And equally it is time that the myriad contributions that migrant women and girls make to sustainable development are adequately acknowledged.

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  • Nisha Baniya

    Nepal is a country which is located in between China and India. It has open border towards India. Initially poor women used to be trafficked to India in the name of job and somehow for sex work. But the trend has been changed along with foreign migration and its legal provisions. According to Data of government aprox. 165,484 women are abroad whereas the male workers are around 44,18,159 but many of working women working being undocumented and trafficked in different countries. Most of them are out of access to government mechanism of protection. Even the government mechanism is not able to keep data of all migrant workers except work permit. Due to unstable political situation, the rule and regulation changes day by day, which is creating problem for working women as well.

    Not taking Responsibility seriously by Origin and Destination countries:

    Mostly the working women are doing household work in Middle East, Malaysia and some other countries. Most of them are facing problem in Middle East because there is no law for domestic workers and existence of Kafala system. I agree that the government of Nepal is not able to regulate Fraud cases, illegal agents, bad agencies, maintaining the data, open border problem, unemployment problem etc. Along with such problems, the destination countries are also responsible to hire the worker who is being trafficked!! Because they allow the workers who is undocumented and having problem because they work for food even not for salary! If there is no space for Illegal migrants, no one can enter because they have very sharp rule and regulations but not for keeping domestic workers. It’s a rule of market that the goods/services to be supplied where scope is.   

    Working in Risk Zone:

    Another point is "Visit Visa " to Dubai! Dubai is being one of the trafficking junction for Nepalese women to supply to Bagdad, Afganistan, Syria and many other countries where is not allowed directly to go for work. Its happening and many of the women are being trapped and kept within the huge wall /compound, who are in high risk to disappear forever! Please visit the link:

    So, women'z work is still not well paid even in rich countries. Domestic workers condition is too bad. But we can improve in the situation together. We have good experience of Lebanon, which is trying to regulate at least better than before because there are some provisions such as work agreement and some mechanisms as well. 

    Bialateral agreements:
    Many of the destinations are not really ready to make joint agreement to secure the workers. Which needs to make essential for those who want to hire migrant workers.
    Respect the women, decent work for women!!!!!!!

    thank you, your suggestions are welcomed!!
    Nisha Baniya
    Lawyer for workers in GEFONT, Nepal


    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks, Nisha, for giving us a snapshot of what is happening in Nepal! I also wanted to congratulate you on your important work providing legal assistance to Nepalese women trafficked to Syria and forced to work as maids. You face many challenges indeed to protecting their rights! Your post mentions lack of data, weak government capacity, and the limitations of bilateral agreements, as well as the ever-shifting routes of labor migration, which often morph into situations of trafficking for purposes of forced labor in zones of conflict, such as Syria or Iraq.

      Nonetheless, protecting the human rights of nationals while abroad, including migrant women regardless of their documentation status, is an obligation of governments in countries of origin. CEDAW General Recommendation 26 indicates, “Countries of origin must respect and protect the human rights of their female nationals who migrate for purposes of work” (art. 24). It goes on to lay out a series of measures which may guide your advocacy efforts to continue improving the government capacity to fulfill this obligation, including diplomatic and consular protection:

      24(j) Diplomatic and consular protection: States parties must properly train and supervise their diplomatic and consular staff to ensure that they fulfil their role in protecting the rights of women migrant workers abroad. Such protection should include quality support services available to women migrants, including timely provision of interpreters, medical care, counselling, legal aid and shelter when needed. Where States parties have specific obligations under customary international law or treaties such as the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, those obligations must be carried out in full in relation to women migrant workers (article 3);

      Certainly sending labor attachés to embassies in destination countries has enhanced the ability of women migrant workers, including domestic workers, to ensure that their labor rights are respected. Yet this strategy, too, has its limitations. As political economist Stuart Rosewarne points out: “as residence rights are contingent on employment, the extended length of time it takes to pursue redress can result in workers being expelled before their case is heard by the courts, utterly frustrating the exercise of their rights” (Meghani 2016: 215, Women Migrant Workers: Ethical, Political and Legal Problems). There may also be a race to the bottom between countries in the region, in which, as labor-importing countries are sourcing their workers from a growing number of countries, there may be a disincentive for labor-exporting countries to have strong rights protection mechanisms – since they may view defending rights as jeopardizing the demand for workers from their country…Not sure if that applies to Nepal, but it is an important macro view to take into account. 

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  • Tamarack Verrall
    Although there is some recognition that refugee and migrant women and girls are being raped, and girls are being forced into marriages at early ages, I am not hearing from the UN this tragedy being given enough thought, discussion or promise that support for women and girls, addressing medical, educational, emotional, practical needs be put in place as means of escape routes, healing, and whatever is needed for the road to basic human rights and freedom. The more we raise this issue directly the more we make it a priority of critical importance, and the more chance that the support systems will be put in place. We seem to be still under the cloud of general acceptance that "these things happen". This is not acceptable. We need with urgency to insist on effective support and a way to end this violence.
    • Monica Corona
      Unfortunately, in this region of the world (Latin America), there is still not enough attention of governments to the problem of sexual violence suffered by migrant women. Shelters for migrants and CSOs do their best, but it is necessary greater involvement and taking responsibility of the governments of countries that have alarming figures of violence against women (Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras).
    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks for raising the important point about the need to protect refugee and migrant women and girls from sexual violence, Tamarack! 

      The outcome document of Monday's UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants, the New York Declaration, calls on governments to make preventing and attending to cases of sexual gender-based violence a greater priority. Two articles specifically mention it:

      2.8        We recognize, and will take steps to address, the particular vulnerabilities of women and children during the journey from country of origin to country of arrival.  This includes their potential exposure to discrimination and exploitation, as well as to sexual, physical and psychological abuse, violence, human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery.


      2.10      We will ensure that our responses to large movements of refugees and migrants mainstream a gender perspective, promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and fully respect and protect the human rights of women and girls.  We will combat sexual and gender-based violence to the greatest extent possible.  We will provide access to sexual and reproductive health-care services. 


      The UN Population Fund, UNFPA, and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, have been working with NGOs such as the Women’s Refugee Commission to assess the protection needs of refugee and migrant women and girls in the European context, including in terms of sexual violence. But yes, much more needs to be done, as noted by the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights

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  • Jenna Holliday
    I think the point about "nothing about us, without us" is very important. I understand that there has been some very important work undertaken in Moldova that has been integrating the voices and experiences of migrant workers in development planning and legislative reviews - especially in relation to the services available to returning migrant women. I will reach out to some partners in Moldova and ask that they relay their experiences here. 
  • Allison Petrozziello

    Thanks to project colleagues from Philippines, Mexico, and Canada for sharing your insights, and to EmpowerWomen members in Czech Republic, the UK, Kazakhstan, Germany, India and Sweden for joining us.

    Today is the long-awaited UN Summit for Refugees & Migrants at the UN General Assembly in New York! Proceedings will be transmitted live here, for those interested in following along: We will be tweeting some key inputs from this discussion, so feel free to have your say! 

    The Summit will be attended by heads of state and government, Ministers, and leaders from the UN System, civil society, private sector, international organizations, academia, and beyond in alignment with the General Assembly resolution establishing the summit’s modalities. 

    At the Summit, the world will come together around one plan. Member States have reached agreement by consensus on a powerful outcome document, which is called the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. It expresses the political will of world leaders to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility on a global scale. At the UN Summit on 19 September, world leaders will discuss how  each country will implement these commitments. Refugees, migrants, those who assist them, and their host countries and communities will all benefit if these commitments are met.

    Of particular interest to this discussion are at least three paragraphs of the New York Declaration. Tell us: How is or the government of the country where you work taking steps to implement them? What more must be done?

    2.8        We recognize, and will take steps to address, the particular vulnerabilities of women and children during the journey from country of origin to country of arrival.  This includes their potential exposure to discrimination and exploitation, as well as to sexual, physical and psychological abuse, violence, human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery.


    2.10      We will ensure that our responses to large movements of refugees and migrants mainstream a gender perspective, promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and fully respect and protect the human rights of women and girls.  We will combat sexual and gender-based violence to the greatest extent possible.  We will provide access to sexual and reproductive health-care services.  We will tackle the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination against refugee and migrant women and girls.  And at the same time, recognizing the significant contribution and leadership of women in refugee and migrant communities, we will work to ensure their full, equal and meaningful participation in the development of local solutions and opportunities.  We will take into consideration the different needs, vulnerabilities and capacities of women, girls, boys, and men.


    3.20      We recognize the need to address the special situation and vulnerability of migrant women and girls by, inter alia, incorporating a gender perspective into migration policies and strengthening national laws, institutions and programmes to combat gender-based violence, including trafficking in persons and discrimination against women and girls.

    • Jessica Dalton

      As part of the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, a high-level civil society event was held where refugees and migrants dialoged with UN Member States about the commitments made in the outcome document of the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants.


      At the meeting, Oscar Chacon raised the importance of designing with and not for refugee and migrant communities; highlighting that we must treat these communities as equal partners, especially in the field of public policy which has lasting impacts.


      How can we ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of migrant women in the development of the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration?


      Colin Rajah, who emphasized “Nothing about us without us,” highlighted the MICIC consultation process as a model for multi-stakeholder processes. Others mentioned communities of practice as a way to connect a broad set of actors and formulate innovative and collective solutions.


      I’d be interested to hear from other users on any concrete experiences or best practices for developing and implementing policy using a participatory approach.

    • Allison Petrozziello
      Today a joint statement on "Addressing gender dimensions in large-scale movements of refugees and migrants" was issued by the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Read more here.
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  • Ellene Sana
    in regard to question 1 -- how can women and girls on the move be protected from exclusion and exploitation?

    for csos like center for migrant advocacy (cma), advocating for women migrants rights is not only confined in the halls of the legislative nor the executive branches of government to change, enact, repeal laws towards a legal environment protection of women migrants.

    another arena which is quite challenging is how to change the mind set, the culture of societies, globally, on how to regard women, women migrants and the work the women do, which unfortunately to this day, is the gender-stereotypical women's job --for example domestic work and care work --which is undervalued, oftentimes unrecognized, under appreciated and one reason for that is because precisely, it is a woman's job!

    in 2014, there was a blockbuster feature on philippine television about a young saudi woman reporter who was reportedly looking for her filipino nanny whom she remembered most fondly --this is one effective way to change the attitudes of the public towards our women migrants -- to hear the invaluable work they do -- i.e.f  from the side of destination through their employers and in this case, their wards. the reunion of the filipino nanny and her ward who is now all grown up was really a heartwarming story. we need to see and hear more stories of this nature.
    • Allison Petrozziello
      What a moving story, Ellene. Communications and cultural production hold great promise to shift prevailing attitudes toward women, migrants, and the work that they perform! Such efforts must go hand in hand with other initiatives which discussion participants have mentioned, such as capacity building and advocacy based on the international human rights framework. 

      I am a fan of innovators such as the Migrantas collective in Germany, who are holding workshops with migrant women in their own spaces to reflect on experiences of migration, and then translating the results into pictograms which are used for exhibits in urban spaces. The results of their work - or what they call "a visual language of migration" - can be found here.
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  • Ellene Sana
    many thanks to allison and also marilen for prompting us to join this forum to share our insights and reflections on gender mainstreaming on migration and development. to pick up on the recent cedaw philippine review, kindly take note that my organization, center for migrant advocacy, partnered with the commission on human rights for the post-cedaw forum workshop with focus on the cedaw observation and recommendations to address women migrants rights. the activity was held last september 9 and was attended by migrant civil society organizations, most of which were the same participants to the 2015 september consultation that cma convened for purposes of cso engagement with cedaw. the forum was also attended and actively participated in by several representative agencies from government which included the following--the overseas workers welfare administration (owwa), national reintegration center for ofws (nrco), foreign affairs department office for the undersecretary for migrant workers affairs, department of social welfare and development, nationla labor relations commission, commission on filipinos overseas. the purpose of the forum-workshop was to identify the next steps forward for the implementation of the concluding recommendations. it was also an occasion for csos and gos alike to revisit the importance of the international human treaties as well as the spaces/ platforms offered such as the treaty bodies especially to csos like cma vis a vis cso work on advocacy for the rights of women migrants and how to take to task the states, not only the Philippines, but states of countries of destination/ employment of our women migrannts. as primary duty-bearers. of foremost importance is cedaw and general recommendation 26 on low-waged women migrant workers. in the current global reality where most states of destination are not states parties to the un convention on migrant workers, then cedaw, which is almost universally ratified, next to the convention on the rights of the child, does play a very important role in ensuring that states do comply with the obligation to promote, protect and fulfil the human rights of women migrant workers within their territories. gr26 provides the necessary guidelines for the effective application of cedaw to women migrant rights protection. how does it work? csos can utiise the cedaw treaty body platform to engage the states parties in regard to women migrants rights during the review processes. this is at the un level. more locally and nationally, csos like cma use cedaw and gr 26 in advocating for laws, policies, programmes and services that will be responsive to the needs of women migrant workers. the same goes true for csos for their respective programs and services. lastly, may we share this report which cma did rigt after the cedaw recommendations came out --
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  • Marilen Soliman


    The Philippine pilot has been working closely with government, national human rights institution and civil society, particularly with women migrant workers’ organizations and/or their support groups on the ground in the implementation of this project. Key components of the initiative – research and knowledge production, and advocacy and capacity strengthening were nationally owned processes driven by strong leadership, commitment and support of key partners and stakeholders.


    Specific to item 4 was the collaboration with the Senate and House of Representatives in conducting a comprehensive CEDAW-based legal review of the migration laws under the project, influencing the enactment of Republic Act No. 10801 (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Act) which was signed on May 2016 by then President Aquino. Using CEDAW-based review, the law now includes a blanket declaration of policy that OWWA shall be gender-responsive. Relevant provisions include: i) ensuring the implementation of all laws and ratified international conventions within its jurisdiction; ii) gender-responsive reintegration programmes and services for women migrant workers; iii) legal assistance to provide guidance and information on protection of migrant rights, including the prevention of gender-based violence; iv) appropriate services and intervention for victims of gender-based violence; v) implementation of health care programmes for the benefit of member overseas Filipino workers and their families, taking into consideration the health care needs of women as provided for in Republic Act No. 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women, and other relevant laws.

    The CEDAW reporting mechanism was also used by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and CSOs to strengthen advocacy for the rights of women migrant workers. Prior to this, the pilot supported a consultation forum to inform CHR and CSO reports for the Philippine CEDAW review in July 2016, and subsequently supported CSO representative in Geneva. Similar support re forum was provided for the preparation of CHR and CSO reports for the Philippines' 3rd UPR early next year.

    CEDAW Concluding observations on the Philippines recognized “the adoption of the amended Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 2010 (Republic Act No. 10022) to protect migrant workers but still expressed concern “at the widespread exploitation and abuse of Filipino women migrant workers working abroad, in particular those working as domestic workers, and insufficient support to reintegrate returning women migrant workers. The Committee also notes that the protection of migrant workers under the ASEAN migration policies does not cover unskilled migrants, who constitute the majority of Filipino women migrant workers.” Recommendations include: 1) enhance efforts to effectively protect the rights of Filipino women migrant workers abroad through bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding; 2) strengthen the regulation and inspection of recruitment agencies for migrant workers; 3) continue efforts to raise awareness among women migrant workers on their rights, risks, and channels to seek remedies for rights violations; 4)Investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of exploitation and abuse of women migrant workers, in particular domestic workers, and 5) provide gender-responsive support to returning women migrant workers for their reintegration.

    Since the issuance of the concluding observations, efforts can be noted in informing key stakeholders and the public on the outcomes and next steps needed in the implementation of the recommendations in the Concluding Observations. Thus far, the Philippine Commission on Women and Commission on Human Rights, have convened post-CEDAW Forum, with the latter focusing on Strengthening Women Migrants Rights.

    Would like to encourage Philippine colleagues to share your reflections, lessons learned on the engagement with CEDAW, especially as an important mechanism or platform to address women migrant workers’ rights (also of interest to colleagues from other pilots). Would also be interested to know of your next steps and/or strategies to address/strengthen the implementation of the recommendations, such as commitments from agencies concerned.

    • Allison Petrozziello

      Congratulations to colleagues in the Philippines on their successful efforts to make the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Act gender-responsive! From what I have learned from Marilen, this particular success is a direct result of training provided by the Women Migrant Workers project to technical legislative staff of the Senate and the House of Representatives in the Philippines on how to conduct a CEDAW-based legal review. This underscores Monica Corona’s point about the importance of building capacity in order to achieve such results. In this case, several strategies were key to achieving this result:

                           i.            The training was targeted to carefully selected technical staff. These are the mid-level people actually involved in the drafting of bills, and as such are the ones most likely to apply capacities acquired.

                         ii.            The training was facilitated by a highly skilled consultant who successfully connected concepts and practice.

      §  Concepts: The training included presentations based on the knowledge products prepared by the project, ensuring that it was solidly based on evidence.

      §  Practice: Each step of the CEDAW-based legal review was illustrated with examples from the study on migration and anti-trafficking laws. Participants used these steps to analyze two current bills being debated at the time, including the OWWA.

                       iii.            Participants were engaged using participatory adult learning methodology, respecting their professional knowledge, which led to their ownership of the process. As a result, they were able to identify the de facto situation of women as well as their concerns and issues, points needed in the law and the CEDAW indicators AND to consider the timeline of the Senate and House (e.g. the draft OWWA had already been scheduled for discussion in the Senate so it was urgent to introduce the relevant changes).

      In the training, participants set about combing through the bill and discussing the provisions to be added, amended or deleted, even going to the extent of crafting the precise language of the provisions needed. In the end, most of the proposed amendments were formally included in the Bicameral Conference Committee Report that was forwarded for the President for approval. This is what building capacity for enhanced accountability to women migrant workers’ rights looks like in action! 

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  • Monica Corona
    In Mexico we have been developing, in collaboration with civil society organizations and academic institutions, knowledge products and research in order to mainstream gender perspective into migration policies, working very closely with the government and the Legislative. 
    It is important to develop different strategies and capacity building programs, with the many differents actors and stakeholders related to migration issues, in order to incorporate the gender perspective into the programs, legislation, public policies. Even nearly 12 million mexicans (almost 10% of the population) live abroad, and of those 12 million the 47% are women, there is still a lack of gender perspective and a lack of visibility of the situation that women confront in the migration process. 
    Mexico, as a country of origin, has 1.44 million female migrant workers abroad. 
    • Monica Corona
      Of course Allison, It is very exciting to see, two years and a half since we began the implementation of the project, the impact that all our research and capacity building documents and studies have had.
      For example, the "Guía breve para desarrollar legislacion migratoria con perspectiva de género" and the "Legislacion mexicana y derechos de las trabajadoras migrantes. Un análisis del cumplimiento de la CEDAW y su RG 26" are both studies focused on the Legislative and in the existing legislation in Mexico related to migration issues and the migration legislation.
      Both, the study and the guide, are now part of our capacity building programme, which it is being implemented in the legislature, with the participation of advisers of deputies and senators, and technical equipment of the Legislative.
      At the same time, with the Government (the Executive) we have a special project to review the special migration program and its priority attention lines (in relation to migrant women), using as document baseline the one that we develop (UN Women with IMUMI), which focuses on analyzing what public policies exist (focusing on migrant workers ) and what public policies and programs have been developed to land those priority areas for attention. We concluded in our study that unfortunately Mexico has made great progress "de jure" but there is still much to be done to move forward, to implement programs and public policies  ("de facto").
    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks so much, Monica, for highlighting initiatives in Mexico to research and build capacity in order to mainstream gender into migration policies. Also, taking note that there are a number of knowledge products (in Spanish) to which those interested may refer on the initiative page, including:

      Guía breve para desarrollar legislación migratoria con perspectiva de género en México

      Las mujeres trabajadoras migrantes, el envío de remesas y la generación de cadenas globales de cuidado en el corredor Chiapas-Centroamérica

      Compromisos de México con los derechos humanos de las trabajadoras migrantes

      Perhaps you could highlight any specific areas where progress has been made in your close collaboration with government entities, including the legislative branch?

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  • Roxanne Angelie San Jose
    1. Women and girls can report them to agencies and protect themselves from doing more research on exploitation. Do not trust anyone without any documents.
    2. Their contributions of women migrants and refugees are improving society especially in economic growth because taxes for government projects will be implemented well.
    3. Equal accessible and opportunities for women and men. Implement a No Discrimination policy into "migration and asylum policies" and other national legislation The benefits of doing so is servicing women and men through government since it is their job to make sure their citizens are well.
    4. One of the existing "international instruments and mechanisms", "the International Migrants Bill of Rights (IMBR) contributes a comprehensive, coherent articulation of the legal framework that protects the rights of all international migrants, regardless of the impetus of their migration" including "research, educate, advocate" via
    • Allison Petrozziello

      Hi Roxanne, thanks so much for your contributions to the discussion!

      I wonder if you could say more about your second point to clarify what you mean by the relationship between women migrants and refugees’ contributions to economic growth and the relationship with taxation for government projects?

      Regarding point 4, the text of Georgetown Law School’s proposed International Migrants Bill of Rights is a useful reference indeed, as it is interprets each fundamental human right in the context of migration. However, it is important to point out that this document is not an existing legal instrument in and of itself – but rather an interpretation based on legal research and grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More on the Georgetown initiative here. In order to use such a document to protect migrant women and girls’ human rights, then, the guiding document would be the UDHR, and the other core international human rights instruments, such as CERD, the CRC, CEDAW, and the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The mechanisms for redress at the international level could include the Human Rights Council (through the Universal Periodic Review and Special Rapporteurs on the Human Rights of Migrants, Trafficking in Persons, and Violence against women), as well as the review processes of the different treaty bodies to which each country is party, for example CEDAW committee or the CMW committee. OHCHR has interesting examples of the ways that these mechanisms are being used to protect migrant women’s rights around the world.

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  • Eva Cech Valentova

    Dear colleagues,

    Thank you for this opportunity to participate in the discussion on women migrant workers, which is one of main target groups of the Association for Integration and Migration (an NGO working with migrants and refugees in the Czech Republic for over 20 years). Please find an excerpt of our analysis on this group of women (will be available in English here) and some of the recommendations made for Czech national policy makers, which, however, can be repplicable in other countries as well as at the international level:

    Migrant women often find themselves in a difficult position. Due to their citizenship, insufficient language skills, lack of familiarity with the environment, lack of experience and limited social relations they often become targets of exploitation, violation of employee rights and dependence on employers. They get into a position of a cheap labour force willing to accept any kind of work regardless of the level of their education; and thus they often become marginalised. Migrant women, just like women from the mainstream society, more often work on a short-term and uncertain employment contract, they have lower pay for comparable jobs as well as lower or no pensions. It is evident that, compared with men, their situation (or the situation of most of them) is significantly worse.

    The situation of migrant women is influenced by gender inequalities as well as by inequalities between the mainstream and minority society, and as opposed to other groups they are more influenced by structural inequalities and legislative barriers regarding access to employment. Their experience with discrimination may therefore be qualitatively different from that of their male counterparts.
    To cope with the social exclusion and exploitation of migrant women, it is therefore very important to:
    - adopt such employment-related strategies that will cover specific cases of migrant women (and at the same time, of course, to respect the specifics of men from the same group), both in the migrant integration policies as well as the gender equality policies;
    - create better conditions for employing migrant women aged 50+ (both legislative and real conditions at workplaces, support for social entrepreneurship, etc.),
    - call for change of attitudes of the entire society
    - promote business activities of migrant women (including access to counselling, assistance in making business plans, better availablity of funds for doing business, as well as access to education in this particular field)
    - ensure that at sufficient amount of the EU financial instruments earmarked for integration of immigrants is allocated to the integration of women
    - systematically push for adopting commitments in the fields of international and European law related to the rights of migrating female and male workers
    - professionalise and remunerate the work, for example, by establishing an adequate minimum wage and stipulating the rights and terms and conditions in selected industries (paid domestic work as well as work in agriculture or restaurant industry) where low-qualified migrant women work. The solution is that these industries would avoid unreported work and would provide these women the necessary opportunities, adequate remuneration and protection provided by the national labour law provisions;
    - a
    ttention should also be paid to such issues as balance between the work and family life (so far unaddressed in relation to migrant women in some countries, e.g. the Czech Republic)
    - a
    dapt supportive instruments and protective measures related to employment policy also to women who face multiple discrimination (e.g. avoid that senior migrant women have to be active in the labour market instead of receiving a regular retirement pension);
    - encourage employers to take a gender-sensitive approach when employing migrants (e.g. by raising their awareness
    of the benefits of employing and promoting women). 
    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks so much, Eva, for sharing these important recommendations for policymakers, which are certainly relevant for contexts beyond the Czech Republic as well! 

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  • Allison Petrozziello

    UN Women and the Permanent Missions of Mexico, the Republic of Moldova and the Philippines are holding a side event prior to the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants on ‘Protecting the labour and human rights of women migrant workers in the context of addressing large movements of migrants.’

    We invite discussion participants to view the live webcast of this event, prior to the UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants, which is about to begin now, 16 September 2016, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. | New York UN Headquarters, CR6. 

    You may post any questions or comments for the panelists here, and a co-moderator who is in the room will raise them during the Q and A session. 


    • Monica Corona
      thank you Jessica!!
    • Monica Corona
      thank you Jessica!! I'm going to share the link, may NGOs in Mexico and Central America are very interested in this kind of discussions, sometimes they do not participate because of the language (not many people speak english in this part of the world!) but a lot of them are interested and engage in learn more how gender and migration are linked, and how migration is different and have different impact for both, men and women.
    • Monica Corona
      I couldn't see the webcast, is this recorded? is there any way to watch it? thanks! 
    • Allison Petrozziello

      Among other initiatives mentioned by the representative of the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to protect their women migrant workers abroad, Hon. Mr. Jesus I. Yabes, Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs at the Filipino Department of Foreign Affairs mentioned the Agreement on Domestic Workers Recruitment with Saudi Arabia. This agreement can be seen here:


    • Allison Petrozziello

      The event concept note can be seen here:


      Meg Jones, Chief of UN Women’s Economic Empowerment Section, said in her opening remarks:

      As stressed in the UN Secretary-General’s report, “In safety and dignity: addressing large movements of refugees and migrants”, the risk of sexual and gender-based violence is high. This includes early and forced marriage, transactional sex/ survival sex, domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment and physical assault in the country of origin, in transit and the country of destination. Further, women and girls on the move face psychosocial stress and trauma, health complications, physical harm, injury and exploitation.

      Despite this, women migrants make important contributions to economic development in both their countries of origin and destination. In fact, women are expected to remit over US$ 300 billion, half of the global remittances in 2016.  Evidence shows that women migrant workers tend to send home a higher proportion of their wages on a more regular basis, and that their remittances are more likely to be spent on health, education, family, and community development.

      But the positive contributions of women migrant workers can only be harnessed if their labour and human rights are fully protected. Such protection must come from gender responsive policies that build on the provisions of the existing international treaties. In particular, CEDAW General Recommendation 26, the International Convention on the Rights of all Migrant Workers and their Families, and ILO Convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers are vital for the full protection and promotion of women migrants’ human rights. It is critical that Member States ratify and implement these instruments with the support of civil society and international organizations.

      Women’s and girls’ leadership and full and equal participation are also critical to ensuring policies are meaningful and provide solutions. Women migrants and their representatives must be at the table – as they were in advocating for ILO Convention 189.


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  • Jenna Hennebry
    It's great to see such enthusiastic participation in this discussion, thank you for setting it up.

    Conversations about migration should recognize that all aspects of migration are gendered and all women migrants are workers. Because women experience migration differently to men, the policies, practices and programmes that interact with labour migration need to reflect these differences. Mainstreaming gender into migration policy through the lens of human rights is the most appropriate way to challenge gender discrimination of migrant workers. 

    As indicated in this discussion, with more gender responsive migration policies, practices and programmes, women’s labour and human rights can be better protected and their risks and vulnerabilities reduced. When mechanisms respond to the specific realities and needs of Women Migrant Workers (WMRs), their experiences are more positive and their ability to make positive contributions to development increases.

    At a macro level, the ICRMW is a valuable tool to protect migrant women's rights. It includes many provisions that are identified as central to the promotion and protection of women but the Convention does not explicitly consider the gender-specific vulnerabilities for women migrant workers and recognize their specific needs and issues. For example, there is no requirement that personnel and facilities relating to the migration process, are gender responsive.

    CEDAW GR26 should be used to enhance state parties accountability to protecting and promoting the rights of women migrant workers, through their implementation of ICRMW and the review process.

    I look forward to continued engagement with you on this topic.
    • Monica Corona
      thank you Jenna and Allison to invite us to share our experience related to the combination of both, the ICRMW and the CEDAW GR26.
      As Allison mentioned, in Mexico we have been working closely with both, the Committee of Migrant Workers and with the Committee of CEDAW. We have realised that the CMW Convention do not have enough elements to attend the specific situation of migrant women. But CEDAW, through its General Recommendation No. 26, is very focus on the situation of women migrants and women migrant workers.
      In January 2016, we organized in Mexico an event called Forum for the monitoring of the observations and recommendations to Mexico by the CMW and the CEDAW. We invited two experts, one from the CMW and the other from the CEDAW, so they can discuss with civil society organizations and network, the relation between gender, migration and development. This event also allowed a strategic link between Committees, in order to incorporate and mainstream gender vision in migration and highlight migration in CEDAW reviews.
      Just few weeks ago we had a meeting with the members of the CMW (they had their 25th session), and one of the results of this advocacy that we have been doing, is that the Committee of Migrant Workers have produced a document with  the list of question to Mexico, and this document have gender inclusive language, specific questions on women migrant workers, and mentions to the General Recomendation No. 26 of the CEDAW. Here the link to the document:
    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks, Jenna, for reminding us of the fact that women migrant workers’ contributions to (inclusive, sustainable) development are predicated on protection of their rights, and pointing us in the direction of the normative framework to increase States’ accountability in this regard.


      Individually, both the ICRMW and CEDAW GR26 may have their limitations, but together they make a powerful combination. The main problem facing ICRMW, as we know, is the relatively low number of governments that have ratified it (48 States parties at present), most of which are migration countries of origin. And, despite its use of non-sexist language, it does not, as you mention, take into account the specific gender needs of migrant women, such as their greater vulnerability to various forms of sexual violence or special protections for domestic workers. So, it makes perfect sense to appeal to CEDAW GR26 to compensate for such gaps, especially since CEDAW is the 2nd most ratified convention. GR26 is an important instrument not only because of its broad geographic reach, but also because of the wide array of considerations it covers, including discrimination against migrant women throughout the migration process, in origin, transit, and destination countries. It is, however, a recommendation, which means that it acts as a non-binding set of guidelines.



      Within the Women Migrant Workers project, I wonder if there are examples we can highlight as to how CEDAW GR26 is being used to enhance government accountability, particularly in combination with the CMW review process? Perhaps we can learn from the experiences of Mexico in this regard?

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  • Maddy Thompson
    Thanks for setting up this discussion, I look forward to the webcast.

    In response to question 3, I think one of the major things that national governments should be looking at, is the policies and practices of recruitment agencies, particularly in relation to the migration of care workers and domestic workers. Recruitment agencies in both sending and receiving countries have frequently been found to employ practices which serve to regulate and police the bodies and actions of women. For example, Filipino domestic workers are advised of appropriate ways to dress and act in order to avoid sexual harrassment by employers. In such a precarious work environment (often these domestic workers live in the employers home, and have their mobility severely restricted), such practices lead to a culture of victim blaming. We should instead be ensuring that recruitment agencies outline acceptable employment practices for employers of domestic workers as opposed to the employees. There should also be better processes for employees to raise issues concerning discrimination and harrassment, with systems in place to offer help when needed.

    Recruitment agencies must be better monitored, and this would likley require an international committment from nation states to further regulate their domestic recruitment agencies.
    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks so much for your comments, Maddy!

      Regarding recruitment practices: At UN Women’s side event on “Protecting the Labour and Human Rights of Women Migrant Workers in the Context of Addressing Large Movements of Migrants” held last Friday in New York, Mr. Vinicius Pinheiro from the ILO brought the  Fair Recruitment Initiative to our attention. The ILO has been working with governments, workers, and employers through to develop guidelines on fair recruitment. Apparently, the guidelines were recently adopted in Geneva, and will be on the agenda of the International Labour Conference in June 2017.

      Of course, we know that monitoring enforcement of such standards can be challenging in feminized sectors of work such as domestic work, as work is performed in private homes as you mention. Toward this end, and in response to our discussion question #4 regarding existing international instruments to protect and promote the human rights of women on the move, ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers – specifically article 15 – has provisions focusing on the protection of domestic workers from such abusive practices:

      §  1. To effectively protect domestic workers, including migrant domestic workers, recruited or placed by private employment agencies, against abusive practices, each Member shall:

      (a) determine the conditions governing the operation of private employment agencies recruiting or placing domestic workers, in accordance with national laws, regulations and practice;

      (b) ensure that adequate machinery and procedures exist for the investigation of complaints, alleged abuses and fraudulent practices concerning the activities of private employment agencies in relation to domestic workers;

      (c) adopt all necessary and appropriate measures, within its jurisdiction and, where appropriate, in collaboration with other Members, to provide adequate protection for and prevent abuses of domestic workers recruited or placed in its territory by private employment agencies. These shall include laws or regulations that specify the respective obligations of the private employment agency and the household towards the domestic worker and provide for penalties, including prohibition of those private employment agencies that engage in fraudulent practices and abuses;

      (d) consider, where domestic workers are recruited in one country for work in another, concluding bilateral, regional or multilateral agreements to prevent abuses and fraudulent practices in recruitment, placement and employment; and

      (e) take measures to ensure that fees charged by private employment agencies are not deducted from the remuneration of domestic workers.

      Taking note – however – that you are contributing from the UK, which is not among the 22 countries which have ratified C189 to date… 

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  • Nargis Azizova
    To respond to Question How can a gender perspective be mainstreamed into migration and asylum policies and other national legislation (labour, trafficking, etc.) -  I strongly belive that the new development SDG based agenda provides a clear vision as well as strengthens  accountability for the human righs and gender responsive labour migration management. However, a lack of mandatory for all regular reporting on teh progress on SDGs implementation by countries represents a key challeneg in regard of SDG agenda enforcement by all as a must.  
    i coudl share a documentation of our regional migration programme (implemented in 2010-2015 by IOM, UN Women and WB with a financial support from teh UK's Government) on enegdenring labour migration policies in 4 countries (Kyrgyzstan and tajikistan as countries of origin and Kazakshtan and Russia as countries of destination).  Hope this would be useful for partners working in this area.  Believe that it is important to have states accountable for human righst and gender responsive policies implementation, however, key big players operating in this area (international organziations, banks,  etc.) have to take this requirement very seriously within their development programming supporting states to imrpove migartion management and also reqularly report on a progress reached by their development assistance by using SDG based indicators reated to migration.
  • Nargis Azizova

    Thank you for this important discussion!

    I would like to contribute from perspectives of ensuring mutual responsibility and accountability of all relevnat actors for a safe migration and respect of human righst of all migrants. We had a very interesing experience of leading a dialogue with the Ombudsmen's offices in countries of origin and destination of labour migrants from Central Asia as well as learning /sharing their good practices to protect women's migrant rights. As a result of this dialogue, the following recomemdnations were made and are being followed-up by our local partners:
    - Ombudsmen's offcies in countries of origin and deestination of labour migrants have to jointly e
    xamine situation with observance of human rights of migrant workers and members of their

    families, who are in penitentiary institutions, homeless placement centers in the host countries, through

    regular monitoring of these institutions in joint cooperation with NGOs and respond to violations of

    their rights;
    - they need jointly c
    onduct regular dialogue with relevant public and intergovernmental agencies to ensure

    international standards and norms of human rights of migrant workers and members of their families

    while developing, analyzing and assessing documents that govern labor migration issues;

    - an joint monitoring of the operation of private employment agencies in sending countries, private employment agencies and employers of the host countries in order to prevent labor exploitation of migrant workers is needed to define gaps/challenegs in regard of protection of human righst of migrants and members of their families and to address them by a consolidated legal propection services;

    - Ombudsmen's offcies are strongly placed to dDeal with facts of discrimination and xenophobia against migrant workers and members of their families in the host countries through information campaigns, interaction with the media, advocacy to develop intercultural and interethnic dialogue; - they are better positioned to undertake regular monitoring of access of migrant

    workers’ children to schooling on the same terms that are children of migrants destination country,

    regardless of the migrant workers’ status;





    - they need to act actively to lobby for the application of measures and make recommendations to improve immigration laws and regulations, bilateral international agreements in order to minimize the risks of irregular migration; to lobby and make recommendations to interstate agreements regarding pension arrangements,

    including in the country of origin to facilitate the development of a mechanism for voluntary (privileged

    or specialized) pension insurance for migrant workers going abroad;






    We expect Ombudsmen to draw the attention of governmental and international agencies to existing negative social aspects of labor migration in the countries of origin and host, such as the growth of stateless persons,

    destruction of family institution, child rights violations in separating families. we recommend to establish an expert advisory board (with representatives of migrant's movements/organzaitions, NGOs, international organizations) on migration policy under the Ombudsmen's offices.

    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks so much for sharing the experience of engaging with Ombudsmen offices in Central Asian countries to protect migrant workers’ rights, Nargis! I wonder what, in your assessment, are the specific advantages or challenges to ensuring that women’s specific needs are taken into account by this kind of entity? Do you have any examples of an Ombudsmen office doing so?

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  • Shalini Prakash
    This such a important subject. I cannot even imagine the pain that these women go through. It is traumatic to be away from your motherland and being exploited in a foreign land where you are really helpless, it is another level of excrutiating pain! I can think of 2 ways-

    1. There could international organisations/ communities dedicated to women refugees
    2. If there are previous refugees in the same country, there should be helping the new refugees with the whole process and helping them locally. 
    • Allison Petrozziello

      Thanks for your input, Shalini! 

      Women's Refugee Commission is one such organization working on the protection and empowerment of refugee women and girls:

      I am sure there are many others. The question of whether to create separate organizations to address gender concerns and women’s specific needs goes to the heart of a long-standing debate about whether to create a separate entity (gender unit, women's organization, or even UN Women) or to mainstream a gender perspective within existing organizations and programming. To achieve the greatest impact, the answer is often BOTH. On Monday, the UN General Assembly will convene heads of State for the first-ever Summit on Refugees and Migrants. The challenge at hand is to ensure that future policies and programs which are created to implement the expected Declaration of New York do indeed mainstream gender.

      Your idea about linking up new arrivals with more established community members is a good practice that different service providers often use, based on language and cultural affinity. It is also a great way to generate employment for more established migrants or refugees. 

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  • Stella Bakibinga
    Wow! This is a very important, timely and interesting topic. Gender mainstreaming in migration is very important given that women are more vulnerable in a number of ways. For instance, quite often women move with children and this means having additional responsibilities amidst the uncertainties. Women fleeing conflict are also at a very high risk of sexual abuse. The following can be done to address women's issues with regard to migration:
    1. Where possible, it is important for women's resettlement to be expedited. This way, chances of them being sexually exploited will be minimized.
    2. There is need for women to be made aware of the ways through which they can seek help if they feel unsafe in any way.
    3. Migrants can form a vigilante group which helps protect women's rights.
    4. At the policy and regulatiion levels, amendments should be made to ensure proper gender mainstreaming.
    • Stella Bakibinga
      Thanks Allison. I am originally from Uganda and from that perspective I can say that the stakeholders include the immigrants, the locals (residents of destination), the authorities, cultural and religious leaders. The importance of religious leaders in Uganda cannot be overlooked given that I noticed over time that so many refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo turn to places of worship amidst difficulties.
      In Sweden, the Ministry of Integration and Gender equality takes care of the gender aspects of immigration. It ensures that immigrants settle in well bearing in mind the gender needs.
    • Allison Petrozziello

      Hi Stella. Thanks for sharing your ideas and helping us to jump start this discussion! An important part of mainstreaming, as you point out, is making sure that in every area of policy and in every activity, both women and men are considered, their differences in terms of needs and views, are taken into account. A necessary step, then, is figuring out how to consult women and men migrants (and girls and boys). Women migrant workers are a key stakeholder group and one that is at times difficult to reach. Most migrants will be unable to participate directly in consultations in their country of origin because they are physically absent. In countries of destination, women migrants may be deprived of a voice in policy making by their non-citizen status or the nature of their employment and living conditions. So, we need to consider innovative ways of consulting them, such as special informal consultations or surveys of returnees and of departing migrant workers at airports facilitated by migrant associations or by women’s NGOs. Migrant organizations or women’s NGOs in countries of destination might be able to facilitate inputs on the situation and issues of women migrant workers on and after arrival. Reaching those in transit is another challenge, as is reaching undocumented migrants, domestic workers, and refugees.

      Reading your suggestions above, I wonder what other kinds of actors must be held accountable for what you suggest at each level - micro (individuals, families), meso (civil society, labor market actors, religious organizations, local governments, etc.) and macro (national governments, regional bodies, international organizations including UN agencies). I also wonder if you are familiar with any good practices from Sweden? 

    2 of 2 Replies
  • Allison Petrozziello
    Welcome to the e-discussion! We will have two weeks to engage with one another around the questions above, along with two key moments toward which discussion posts may be directed.

    1. On 16 September 2016 from 10 AM to 12 PM EST UN Women will be hosting, together with the Permanent Missions of Philippines, Moldova and Mexico, and representatives from the CEDAW and CMW committees, a side event prior to the UN Summit for Refugees and migrants on ‘Protecting the labour and human rights of women migrant workers in the context of addressing large movements of migrants’. The meeting will be webcast on Viewers are invited to post questions and comments during the panel in the discussion thread, a selection of which will be presented live during the Q&A session by a UN Women co-moderator.
    2. On 19 September 2016 during the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, UN Women’s social media team will select and tweet key posts from this e-discussion as part of the conversation during the event.  This is your chance to influence the debate so that governments commit to gender equality and women’s empowerment as part of the framework for human rights-based governance of international migration. 

    We look forward to learning from you and sharing what UN Women has been learning as to what it means to mainstream gender into migration and development policies, plans, and programs. 


    • Stella Bakibinga
      Thanks, I will take note of this so that I do not miss out.
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