UN Women statement for International Migrants Day 2018

Date: Friday, December 14, 2018

International Migrants Day provides us with a chance to reflect on the positive contributions that migrant women and men, and their families make in countries of origin, transit and destination, and reaffirms the importance of ensuring that their human rights are protected and promoted at all stages of migration.

The adoption of the Global Compact for Migration on 10 December 2018 was a turning point in international migration governance. It was the first time that countries around the globe came together to agree on a set of commitments to help manage migration and ensure its safety for everyone. However, we know that the experience of migration differs significantly for women and men, girls and boys: Every aspect of migration, from the decision to migrate to the issues for those who remain behind, from crossing borders to settling in countries of destination, is influenced by gender equality considerations. And while migrant women and girls are not inherently vulnerable, we must recognize that they often face a heightened risk of human rights violations including exposure to trafficking, exploitation and sexual and gender-based violence.

For too long, migration laws and policies have failed women and girls. But in implementing the Global Compact for Migration, countries have an opportunity to reaffirm their commitments to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, accelerating the advancement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. This must include recognizing and addressing the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that migrant women and girls may face, not only on the basis of their gender and migration status but also on aspects such as their age, income, ethnicity, nationality, religion, marital and family status, sexual orientation and gender identity, health, HIV-status, and place of residence, among others.

Migration has always been and always will be a part of the human story. It is not a problem to be solved but an opportunity to achieve sustainable development across the countries enriched by these movements of people. We have a responsibility to ensure that when people migrate—whether by choice or out of necessity—they must be able to do so safely and in dignity. We need to move away from viewing migrant women primarily through a lens of vulnerability, and instead promote their agency and leadership and recognize the huge contributions they make at all stages of migration.