woman migrant workers

Migrants Day 2021: How the pandemic disproportionately impacted women migrant workers 

International Migrant Day was established in 2000 by the UN General Assembly (UNGA. Taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, 18 December was proclaimed International Migrants Day. 

The day was selected to mark the anniversary of the 1990 adoption by UNGA of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

This day is seen as an opportunity to recognize the contributions made by millions of migrants, such as their work for the economies of their home countries and host. It is also a day to promote and advocate for migrant human rights.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many of the critical issues facing migrant workers and women migrant workers have been disproportionately affected.  The latest data estimates the number of international migrant workers is 169 million, 70 million of whom are women. 

“COVID-19-related border closures and the attendant economic crisis have led to extensive job losses for migrant workers globally, with a disproportionate impact on women, who have even more limited income security and social protection and who continue to face wage discrimination,” said António Vitorino, Director-General of the International Organization for Migration and Coordinator of the UN Network on Migration.

According to a report by the International Labor Organization, many women migrant workers have even more limited income security and social protection than the average worker. This is due to various factors including: the persistent gender wage gap and because women migrant workers disproportionately work in more precarious, insecure and informal employment. Women are also more likely to experience violence at the workplace, the report states. 

This year’s International Migrant Day centers around the theme of “Harnessing the Potential of Human Mobility.” 

The UN writes: 

Migrants contribute with their knowledge, networks, and skills to build stronger, more resilient communities. The global social and economic landscape can be shaped through impactful decisions to address the challenges and opportunities presented by global mobility and people on the move.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) offers the opportunity and guidance to actualize human mobility and seize the opportunities it presents.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has assisted millions of migrants since it emerged 70 years ago to assist the vast number of Europeans displaced by the Second World War and continues to lead the way in promoting a humane and orderly management of migration for the benefit of all, including the communities of origin, transit and destination.

With this year’s theme, the UN is sharing stories from migrant workers to amplify their voices. While there is much work to be done to address and rectify the issues facing migrant women workers, sharing their stories and advocating for their rights is a first step toward advancing the cause. 

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