GENDER AND MIGRATION

Around the world, more people are on the move than ever before. Many of them are seeking new opportunities and a better life for themselves and their families. Others are forced to move due to disaster or conflict. Gender is central to any discussion of the causes and consequences of regular and irregular migration and forced displacement.

It is now understood that a person’s sex, gender identity and sexual orientation shape every stage of the migration experience. Gender affects reasons for migrating, who will migrate, the social networks migrants use to move, integration experiences and labour opportunities at destination, and relations with the country of origin. The expectations, relationships and power dynamics associated with being a man, woman, boy or girl, and whether one identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex (LGBTI), can significantly affect all aspects of this process. LGBTI individuals of any gender also experience migration differently, with their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages.

These facts demonstrate the necessity for IOM to understand, assess and respond to gender dynamics. Taking into account gender-specific migration trends can mean the difference between implementing a project that successfully addresses the needs and capacities of IOM beneficiaries equally, or one that fails to address these critical elements and perpetuates gender inequality. Proactively including gender equality in all of IOM’s work means: advocating for equal rights under the law in employment and mobility; combatting discriminatory migration practices; understanding how gender influences all aspects and types of migration; knowing and responding to how gender shapes access to social services, economic growth, capacities, risks and vulnerabilities; and understanding how migration influences gender roles and gender equality. Taking all of these steps is central to IOM’s mandate and intrinsic to developing safe, humane and orderly migration for all.

Video Playlist: Gender Equality and IOM


 

Celebrating Migrant Women in a Changing World of Work

South Sudan - Along, Teresa and Pasalina own a local dairy business along the main market in Abyei town. @IOM/Muse Mohammed
After taking IOM’s livelihoods training, they decided to venture into dairy processing together, using the financial management, business practices and vocational skills they learned. “They taught us a number of recipes and ways to make milk and cheese that we did not know before,” Along explained. “One of the main things we learned was to boil the milk during the process, which is not something that is normally done here in our village. This method makes producing milk faster and safer to drink.”
The women are also related. “We all work together and depend on each other for support,” Teresa said. @IOM/Muse Mohammed
Among the three of them, they have 13 children to look after and are the sole income generators for their families, having lost their husbands to war. “Business has been getting difficult lately as we have been struggling to get more supplies to make more milk,” explains Along. Like many other businesses in the area, their dependency on essential goods from the markets have made them highly vulnerable to fluctuations in prices or complete market closures due to insecurity.
South Sudan – Aluel Matiok, tailoring and wearing a dress she made for herself. @IOM/Muse Mohammed
“Before going through the training programme, I knew nothing about tailoring. I had to learn everything from the ground up. It took me seven months to learn everything but I managed to do it,” Aluel Matiok said. She participated in the tailoring and business skills training run by IOM and now shares a workshop with 13 tailors who produce and sell clothing through a cooperative agreement. Using fabric donated by IOM to help the tailors get their business off the ground, they have produced a number of garments for men and women of various sizes.
Aluel seems confident that she can overcome challenges through the help of the cooperative and IOM. @IOM/Muse Mohammed
Before becoming a tailor, Aluel owned a restaurant in Abyei but found herself struggling to deal with issues such as reliance on credit payment, which meant that customers often did not pay until the end of each month. “A lot of customers paid through credit, making it difficult to maintain a profit or even have cash to buy more supplies.” Aluel is happy that her new customers only pay in cash saving her the trouble of following up on overdue payments. Nevertheless, her new business is also introducing new challenges she did not encounter before. “We don’t have a stand in the main market where we can display our clothes for sale, so for now we have to rely on customers coming out to the workshop to buy clothes which is a bit out of the way for most people,” she said.
Myanmar – Akchina, during a class for beauticians at the vocational training center in Mawlamyine. @IOM/Muse Mohammed
Akchina is part of the latest class of beauticians at the vocational training centre in Mawlamyine. Akchina is currently undergoing hormone therapy to transition from male to female. She hopes that she will use the skills that she is learning to not only one day set up a beauty parlour in her local township but to also make herself into a beautiful woman.
Myanmar – Sandi runs a tailoring shop outside of her home in Hpa-An. @IOM/Muse Mohammed
As a former student of IOM’s vocational training programme, Sandi wanted to become a tailor in order to run her own business. “Where I live, it is really common to see people leave their homes and travel to places like Thailand for work, but I wanted to be able to run a business while staying close to home,” she explained. Myanmar is known to have large amounts of labour-related migration with workers - skilled and unskilled - travelling abroad to find work.
Myanmar – Sandi runs a tailoring shop outside of her home in Hpa-An. @IOM/Muse Mohammed
Today, Sandi runs a business out of her home with a heavy backlog of clients requesting a range of clothing and dresses. Equipped with a sewing machine and a selection of magazine catalogues, she is one of two local tailors catering to local demand for clothing and has managed to earn a decent salary.