Women refugees and migrants

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On 19 September, on the occasion of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, Heads of State and Governments will come together at the first-ever high-level summit for refugees and migrants to discuss a “Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration” and a “Global Compact on Responsibility-Sharing for Refugees”. Ahead of the Summit, learn more about women refugees and migrants and UN Women’s efforts to realize their rights.

The issue

Today, around the world, people are on the move. They are migrating to escape poverty, improve their livelihood and opportunities, or escaping conflict and devastation in their own countries. Women represent almost half of the 244 million migrants and half of the 19.6 million refugees worldwide.

The remittances sent by women migrant workers improve the livelihood and health of their families and strengthen economies. In 2015, international migrants sent $432.6 billion in remittances to developing countries—nearly three times the amount of Official Development Assistance, which totaled at $131.6 billion.

Women are often the first responders in a crisis, and whether en route or in camps, in home countries or destination countries, they play a crucial role in caring for, sustaining and rebuilding their communities.

Yet, refugee and migrant women’s needs, priorities and voices are often missing from policies designed to protect and assist them.

The United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants

Addressing the unprecedented large movements of refugees and migrants needs a more humane and coordinated approach that all countries can endorse and implement. On 19 September, on the occasion of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, Heads of State and Governments will come together at the first-ever high-level summit for refugees and migrants to discuss the key elements of a global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration and a global compact on responsibility-sharing for refugees.

The day-long summit is expected to generate global commitments to address the root causes of large movements of refugees and migrants; to ensure at all stages, the human rights, safety and dignity of refugees and migrants; to provide protection from violence; and to prevent discrimination and xenophobia. World leaders are also expected to discuss a more predictable and equitable way of responding to large movements of refugees through responsibility-sharing and a comprehensive response plan for refugees.

With refugee and migrant women playing a pivotal role around the world to sustain communities and economies, the global commitments must include achieving gender equality, the empowerment of all women and girls and their human rights as underlying principles, address the unique needs of women and girls, include their voices, and be accountable to them.

In the past two decades, an annual average of 172,000 Filipino women have left the country as migrant workers, in the quest for decent work and adequate income. Many endure abuse and exploitation and need reintegration support upon return. A UN Women programme is strengthening the capacity of migrant women’s organizations and networks to better serve and assist women migrant workers.
These are their stories »

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