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.