Commission on Status of Women: Gender Permeates International Migration
Gender Permeates Causes, Consequences of International Migration, Commission on Status of Women Told
Remittances, Lack of Coherence in Migration Policies Among Wide Range of Issues Addressed in Panel Discussion
Gender permeated every aspect of migration, including the decision to migrate, the process of migration and its consequences, the Commission on the Status of Women was told today during a panel on the gender dimensions of international migration, one of several issues being examined by the 45-member body at its fiftieth session.
This afternoon’s panel provided the Commission with a unique opportunity to examine the multidimensional aspects of international migration from a gender perspective and provide inputs to inform the high-level dialogue on international migration and development, to be convened by the General Assembly from 14 to 15 September.
A gender perspective was essential for understanding both the causes and the consequences of international migration, Commission Chairperson Carmen Maria Gallardo ( El Salvador) informed delegates. As of 2000, 49 per cent of all international migrants were women or girls, and the proportion of women among international migrants had reached 51 per cent in more developed regions. Women often migrated officially as dependant family members of other migrants or to marry someone in another country. Female migrants were, however, increasingly part of worker flows, moving on their own to become the principal wage earners for their families.
Remittances, which in large part were a rationale for migration, both informed and were informed by gender, stated Manuel Orozco, Senior Associate at the Inter-American Dialogue. Men sent more remittances to their families than women, mainly due to the fact that men earned more money than women. In addition, men sent predominantly to their spouses and parents, while women sent predominantly to their children and parents. One explanation for that was that most migrant women were single or single mothers. On the recipient side, women tended to be the main receivers of remittances and they received more money than men.
In Asia, the participation of men and women in labour migration stemmed from different demands, noted Milagros B. Asis, Director of Research and Publications at the Scalabrini Migration Center in Manila. Male migration was basically a response to the shortage of workers in sectors that had been deemed undesirable by the local population, such as agriculture and construction. On the other hand, female migration was specific to the transfer of domestic and "care work" by more affluent women to migrant women. While such work was a major source of labour for female migrants, it involved unprotected sectors.
The Deputy Director of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Ndioro Ndiaye, said Governments should foster sensitivity towards the cultures of migrants, while ensuring that all cultural and customary practices that negatively affected the rights of women were eliminated, including through specific legislation. Sensitivity towards the culture of migrants needed to be taken into account when working on integration strategies. Governments had the tools, but were often lacking the political will to ensure that migration, and in particular labour migration, was governed by human rights, rather than only economic factors. The lack of coherence in migration policies was one of the great challenges facing the international community.
Presentations were also made by Monica Boyd, of the University of Toronto, Canada; Irena Omelaniuk, Migration Adviser, World Bank; and Carmen Moreno, Director of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).