Dianova International led the organization of a Parallel Event at the CSW61 to exchange best practices in the field of migrant women’s economic empowerment
Women and girls account for half of the world’s migrant population. When in conflict zones and forced to move, or when they migrate to escape poverty, for family reunion, or to search for economic opportunities and education, women and girls often combine the challenges of migrating with pre-existing gender-based forms of vulnerabilities. In this context, exposure to violence, human trafficking, abuse, discrimination, neglect, sexual exploitation and assault can be aggravated if women do not have access to sustainable income-generating activities of their own in the countries of destination.
Women’s economic empowerment has the power to increase women’s capacities to become the primary agent of their own lives and choices. It can also effectively safeguard women from exploitation and from informal, uncertain, and underpaid jobs. Ultimately, women’s economic empowerment sets the grounds for women to live in freedom and independency.
Nevertheless, reality shows that cultural differences, language barriers, restrictive gender-roles and religious practices, lack of education, household responsibilities, denial of work permits, insufficient or inexistent integration processes, often limit women’s possibilities to thrive in the job market.
Parallel Event at CSW61: Challenges and Opportunities for Migrant Women’s Economic Empowerment
Addressing these and other challenges that impede migrant women from fulfilling their professional capacities, Dianova organized a parallel event at the 61th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) in partnership with Pan-Pacific and South-East Asia Women’s Association (PPSEAWA), the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, and the Church and Society from the Methodist Church. The event brought together five organizations with experience in this field to explore best practices in overcoming challenges and creating opportunities for migrant women at the global and local levels.
The event was introduced by an opening statement on the background situation of migrant women on the move by Saionara König-Reis, International Relations Manager at Dianova International, followed by Griet Cattaert, Program Analyst at the International Labor Organization (ILO). Griet underlined the work developed by ILO at the policy level, pushing for the formalization of domestic and care work to enhance protection, value, and labor rights to this field of work predominately exercised by women, and particularly migrant women.
Nuria Adeva, gender specialist at Dianova Spain, highlighted some of the best practices that creates the conditions for refugee women’s empowerment at Dianova’s International Protection Programs in Spain.
Nuria mentioned the importance of working in partnership with the private sector to raise awareness and create opportunities for migrant women. She also underlined the value of creating safe spaces for women to develop soft skills and the need to educate men in issues of gender equality.
In the following, Sarah Hayes, Deputy Director of the Economic Empowerment Program at Sanctuary for Families (SFF), addressed the special vulnerabilities of migrant women survivors of domestic and other forms of gender-based violence and presented SFF’s comprehensive approach to empower migrant women in this context and to leverage their skills to access better paid and safer jobs. Pauline Muchina, Director of the Healthy Family, Healthy Planet Program at Church and Society, described how the program is supporting migrant women by granting them access to a range of services, including comprehensive sexual and reproductive health, and education, as well as mobilizing the community to become a part of the solution.
Every time a skilled migrant woman is marginalized and discriminated against in the labor market due to her gender, culture, religion or ethnicity, it’s detrimental to the society as a whole.
And when we finally add to the equation the lost capacities so far obstructed by inequality, prejudice and discrimination, the development of societies will see no limits. So we must continue to build upon the conclusions and exchanges of the CSW61 until every migrant woman is safe and is empowered to thrive.