Expert Working Group for Addressing Women’s Human Rights in the Global Compact for Migration Joint Statement for International Women’s Day 2019
United States of America
The Expert Working Group is composed of experts from human rights treaty bodies, Special Procedures mandate holders, UN agencies, civil society organisations and academic institutions. It was established in 2017 to help ensure that the human rights of the estimated 130 million international migrant women and girls around the world are fully promoted and protected in the development and implementation of the Global Compact for Migration. UN Women serves as the substantive Secretariat of the Expert Working Group.
International Women’s Day is an opportunity for reflection: on the great strides that have been made towards achieving gender equality but also on the many obstacles that still stand in the way. Millions of migrant women and girls around the world continue to face discrimination in policies and practice because of their gender and migration status as well as, inter alia, their race and ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability, pregnancy, HIV status, and economic and social class.
No individual should ever be prevented from exercising their human rights, but migrant women and girls continue to face a heightened risk of human rights violations. This is particularly true for women and girls with an irregular migration status, for whom reporting crimes – such as gender-based violence – or accessing even basic services can mean possible arrest, detention and deportation. Migrant women and girls subject to immigration detention are at high risk of sexual and gender-based violence and their physical and mental well-being is frequently compromised. However, community-based alternatives to detention already exist, and States should pursue non-custodial measures and provide for a presumption in favour of liberty for all migrants facing immigration procedures. As for children, any form of detention is a violation of their rights and is never in their best interests.
The Global Compact for Migration – adopted by UN Member States in December 2018 – covers all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. It underscores that the human rights of all migrant women, men, girls and boys must be respected, and that immigration detention should only be a measure of last resort and countries should work towards finding alternatives. We, the members of the Expert Working Group, call on all stakeholders to ensure that the human rights of women and girls at all stages of migration are protected and promoted. And we stand ready to work with Member States in developing and implementing gender-responsive migration policies and practices that address the situations of vulnerability, needs and priorities of women and girls.
In implementing the Global Compact for Migration, countries have an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in line with the Beijing Platform for Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This International Women’s Day let’s take a moment to recognize and celebrate the vast contributions to gender equality and sustainable development of the nearly 130 million migrant women and girls around the world.