Women and migration: vulnerability in the face of abuse and discrimination

For the last few years more female migrants have been migrating independently for work, education and as heads of households. Despite these improvements, female migrants may still face stronger discrimination, are more vulnerable to mistreatment, and can experience double discrimination as both migrants and as women in their host country in comparison to male migrants. Nonetheless, male migrants are also exposed to vulnerabilities in the migration processes. Gender-responsive data on migration has the potential to promote greater equality and offer opportunities for disadvantaged groups.

Ahead of the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Migration, held in Marrakech, on 10 and 11 December 2018, innovative and collaborative approaches have been sought in order to ensure that the Global Compact for Migration is implemented in a way that recognises and addresses the different realities faced by migrant women, men, girls and boys by promoting and protecting their human rights at all stages of migration, while advancing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

The vulnerability of migrant women is all the greater when it comes to labour market inclusion and decent work. According to the United Nations, for instance, women make up 73.4% of international migrant domestic workers; yet, only 26 countries have ratified the ILO Convention on Domestic Workers (No. 189), which is imperative for promoting the rights and dignity of domestic workers, while recognising the specific forms of discrimination and abuse faced by women.

Migrant women often play essential roles in sustaining and rebuilding their families and communities. According to the IOM women migrants send a greater portion of their overseas earnings home than men do and they often take on more caring responsibilities related to family and household than men do – wherever they may be. The issue of violence against women is one all-too-common denominator underlying the distinctive challenges that female migrants face along the migration route. We must not forget that violence against women is a manifestation of deeply-rooted unequal power relations between men and women that we all must condemn.

SOLIDAR network affirms the need for full respect and recognition of the rights of all migrant women. We also ask for a fair and better-regulated labour market, that takes into account the skills and qualifications of women migrants. We also urge that migrant worker, often employed in the care and domestic sector, be guaranteed decent work and the freedom of trade union affiliation. We underline the importance of the fight against women trafficking, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, of which migrant women are frequently victims, because of their double vulnerability. On International Women’s Day, SOLIDAR once again calls for the respect of fundamental rights, without any gender discrimination or violation. 

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