Tanzania: IOM calls for focus on migrant women, girls in global development

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) – The hundreds of millions of women and girls across the globe who have left their homes, whether by force or by choice, and often in search of a better life like all migrants, must be at the centre of the global development agenda, International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Director General William Lacy Swing, said Monday.

In his message, issued in Geneva, Switzerland, to mark the International Women’s Day 2016, Swing reaffirmed the unwavering commitment of the IOM to gender equality and empowerment for such girls and women, stating that they demand everybody's attention.

"As we strive to achieve the SDGs, it is crucial that we ensure that they apply to migrant women and girls just as much as they apply to women and girls who have remained in their home communities," Swing said, underlining that fundamental to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations "is their emphasis on equality, empowerment and inclusion irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity or origin."

The UN's official theme for this year's International Women's Day, observed on 8 March,  “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”, promotes a bold vision for ensuring that gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights play a central role in achieving the recently adopted 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

According to Swing, this agenda, formulated through 17 SDGs, recognized not only the inherent necessity of protecting the rights of women and girls, but also that protecting their rights would enhance their potential to contribute meaningfully to sustainable development.

He noted that the application of the SDGs to ‘all people’ is consistent throughout the 17 goals. Moreover, the principles of equality, empowerment and inclusion are explicitly pointed out in SDG 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment, and in SDG 10 which refers to social, economic and political inclusion for all.

"The goals in themselves are ambitious and admirable. They also raise some important issues concerning equality," Swing pointed out. "The first is that equality and empowerment are not only important goals in their own right, but they can have a cyclical component to them."

He said that extending access to resources and opportunities to migrant women and girls can contribute to sustainable development, which can in turn open up further opportunities for women and girls.

"When making the links between gender, migration and development, we must always remember to consider how gender and migration can impact development and also how development might impact gender and migration.

"The most atrocious manifestation of gender inequality is violence against women and girls, with migrant women and girls often being particularly vulnerable. Such violence, such as domestic violence and forced marriage, can sometimes be a driver of migration for women and girls," the IOM chief pointed out.

According to the IOM, sexual violence in particular is a serious concern along migration routes, Also, in the host community, various legal, linguistic, economic, cultural and other barriers can make migrant women and girls more vulnerable to violence and exploitation, particularly those who are undocumented or dependent on family members or employers.

The organisation has observed that for millions of women and girls who are victims of trafficking, violence is the distressing cause of their migration. Compounding the situation even further is that the prevalence of violence against migrant women and girls tends to reinforce gender inequalities.

Many migrant women and girls might also undergo certain forms of violence that have been brought to host communities from origin communities, such as harmful cultural practices like female genital mutilation.

"The second issue concerning equality is the notion of intersectionality. In order to fully understand the specific advantages and disadvantages experienced by migrant women and girls, we must consider how different personal factors intersect with each other, rather than thinking of these factors independently," Swing suggested in his message.

"The importance of collecting data that is disaggregated by both gender and migration status needs to be  factored in. Despite the lack of consistently disaggregated data, we know from various research studies that migrant women tend to face an array of distinct challenges," he said.

While gender and migration status are two key factors playing a role here, other factors such as age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, and ability, among others, should also be considered, he suggested.

"The SDGs are a much-needed step in the right direction if we want to ensure that sustainable development is a global reality. And it is clear that gender and migration considerations must remain an integral part of the global development agenda if we are to be successful in achieving the SDGs," Swing added.
-0- PANA AR/VAO 7March2016

07 march 2016 13:08:45

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