The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes the positive contribution of migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development. Migration can potentially bring significant benefits to women; a demonstration of their agency and a means of empowerment whose benefits, such as remittances, radiate to their families. However, without access to safe and regular migration pathways, many women have no choice but to turn to increasingly hazardous and even deadly journeys that can expose them to far higher risks of violence, sexual exploitation, forced labour and trafficking.
It is therefore vital that we take steps to address the risks of irregular migration, and respect, protect and fulfil the rights of all migrant women and girls, at all stages and in all types of migration. We encourage all those working on migration issues to consult with migrant women and girls whose lived experiences can best inform the policies affecting them, so as to achieve and implement truly gender-responsive migration laws, policies and practices that enable safe, orderly and regular migration. For instance, in Niger, as part of the ‘Making Migration Safe for Women’ programme, UN Women has been working with local organizations to develop a set of handouts for women to inform them of their rights and ensure they understand the risks and realities of migration.
There are estimated to be 281 million migrants worldwide, moving for many different reasons: some to escape poverty, unemployment, political instability or violence, while others leave to pursue opportunities: to study, develop their careers and to be with their families. However, while all migrants may experience negative stereotypes and prejudice, women, girls, gender-diverse people and those living with disabilities too often face the brunt of discriminatory migration laws and policies.
On the occasion of International Migrants Day, let us resolve to ensure that the rights of all migrant women and girls are fully protected and promoted, and to support all those who work to provide a safe, humane and orderly transition to migrants’ new lives and livelihoods.