With worker migration becoming increasingly feminized, governments should provide education about the rights of women migrant workers, allow them residency status independent of men and ratify international instruments prohibiting violence against women and their trafficking, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says.
In a report prepared to the upcoming General Assembly session, Mr. Annan says: “States should more systematically put in place targeted prevention measures, including comprehensive awareness-raising initiatives, to educate migrant women and the general public about the rights of women migrant workers.”
Several government responses highlighted the feminization of migration, with Indonesia indicating that women constituted more than 70 per cent of the 350,000 Indonesian workers who migrate annually, while Jamaican women accounted for 60 per cent of the migrant labour force, he says. Women formed about 45 per cent of the Mexicans living in the United States, mostly working in jobs offering no labour protection, while 15,000 Filipino women annually sought domestic work overseas.
Education campaigns should highlight the positive contributions made by women migrant workers and dispel the misinformation which leads to xenophobia and racism in destination countries and can put migrant women at risk of violence and abuse, he says.
Governments should ensure that training is given to government officials, community leaders, law enforcement agents, social workers and others likely to work with migrant workers so as to sensitize them to the issue of violence against women migrants, he says.
Effective support for women migrant victims of violence should also be put in place, including giving them access to shelters, legal aid and medical, psychological, social and economic assistance, Mr. Annan says.
Governments should ratify international instruments on migration issues, particularly the UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its two Protocols, and all relevant UN International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions.
The Commission on Human Rights’ special rapporteurs on the human rights of migrants, on violence against women and on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, as well as all human rights treaty bodies, should be invited to continue to pay particular attention to the situation of women migrant workers, he says.