International Migrants Day

UN Women Statement for International Migrants Day

On International Migrants Day, UN Women reaffirms its commitment to work with partners to ensure that migration remains a matter of choice, with respect for the rights, and guaranteed safe passage and arrival for all migrants, especially women and girls, seeking a better future.

Date: Sunday, December 18, 2016

Throughout history, women and men have left their homes in search of safety, opportunity and better lives. Today, there are more than 244 million migrants in the world, and almost half are women. With large movements of refugees and migrants garnering international attention as never before, it is critical that the global community comes together with unified and gender-responsive solutions that address both the opportunities and challenges that migration presents.

Migrants bring new ideas and innovations to both host and home countries, and can significantly boost economies. According to recent estimates, migrants contributed 9.4 per cent of global GDP, a value of US$6.7 trillion in 2015. Migrants can also help to even out population disparities around the world, for instance, through young workers migrating to countries with aging populations and declining birth rates. Nearly two-thirds of migrants are filling vital employment gaps in destination countries.

Yet too often migrants, particularly women and girls, remain invisible. Many migrant women are considered “irregular”, because their journey was outside official immigration regulations and under precarious conditions. They may take on informal jobs, such as care and domestic work, which are essential to the functioning of the economy, yet tend to be low-paid, receive little or no legal protection, healthcare coverage or other benefits, and are often carried out in unsafe conditions. Domestic work, in particular, is hard to regulate, making access to visas and official protection difficult for migrant women and leaving them at further risk of physical and sexual violence at the hands of unscrupulous agencies, recruiters or employers.

The United Nations is working together to meet these challenges. In 2016, UN Women was honoured to chair the Global Migration Group, which aims to better coordinate UN efforts on migration and to leverage the benefits of migration for development. In September, UN Member States adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which recognizes the positive economic and social contributions of migrants, and commits to addressing the challenges faced by migrants, as well as those faced by source, transit and destination countries. The New York Declaration also underlines the need for promoting and protecting the rights of migrant women and girls at all stages of migration.

The Declaration is a critical step towards the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in 2018. This global compact is expected to become a dynamic vehicle for migration governance, which sees migrants, including women and girls, as agents of change with valuable skills, powerful voices and the potential for leadership. To do so, it will be important to include commitments to reduce irregular migration and to promote the inclusion of migrants and their access to services and protections. At a time when anti-immigrant sentiments are on the rise across the world, it will be vital that the global compact contains critical commitments to combat racism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance.

Today, on International Migrants Day, UN Women reaffirms its commitment to work with partners to ensure that migration remains a matter of choice, with respect for the rights, and guaranteed safe passage and arrival for all migrants, especially women and girls, seeking a better future.

Related Link

In Focus: Women refugees and migrants