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 migration, whether forced, voluntary, or somewhere in between.
It is recognized that a person’s sex, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation shape every stage of the migration experience.
Gender influences reasons for migrating, who migrates and to where, how people migrate and the networks they use, opportunities and resources available at destinations, and relations with the country of origin. Risks, vulnerabilities and needs are also shaped in large part by one’s gender, and often vary drastically for different groups. The roles, 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), significantly affect all aspects of the migration process, and can also be affected in new ways by migration.
It is, therefore, crucial to understand how gender interacts with migration and to respond accordingly. Taking into account gender-specific migration trends can mean the difference between implementing a project that successfully addresses the specific needs and capacities of all IOM beneficiaries, and one that fails to do so and perpetuates inequality.
Given the gender-specific nature of migration, the following are central to IOM’s work: advocating for equal rights under the law in employment and mobility; combatting discriminatory migration practices; understanding how gender affects the types of migration undertaken; responding to how gender influences access to social services, economic growth, capacities, risks and vulnerabilities; ensuring diversity and inclusiveness in consultations and participation in activities; and addressing how migration influences gender roles and relations.