OpEd: By William Lacy Swing, Director General, IOM
One of the most significant trends in migration has been the rise in the number of women using dangerous migration routes previously mainly used by men. More and more women, fleeing hardship, violence, war and poverty, are now taking the same desperate risks as men in search of a better life for themselves and their children. This is desperation migration. French | Spanish
Geneva - The International Organization for Migration calls today on the international community to ensure that migrant women are not left behind in the ongoing discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.
I arrived in Argentina in 2001 with my aunt, uncle and cousin. Back then, Argentina had signed migration accords with some of the ex-Soviet Republics. Argentina was accepting migrants and was expediting the procedures to obtain permanent residence. My aunt and uncle saw a great opportunity, and things were not so good in Ukraine. They were professionals yet could not find a job and so they decided they wanted a better future for their family.
As the first colours of spring emerge, our big city playgrounds will soon be overrun with joyous children, watched by women caregivers of different ethnicities. Despite their large numbers they often go by unnoticed ignored by the general public. Who are these women?
“I encouraged my daughter Bryseida to go with her cousins to Mexico to earn some money for our family. I did it as a child, so I saw nothing wrong with that,” says María Lupe Felix Aguilón, a Guatemalan mother of six who is so destitute she can barely feed her family.
Seeing a doctor for a routine check-up, receiving urgent treatment in a hospital, getting the right medication for a sick child – these are all things that most of us can access fairly easily on a day to day basis. In the remote corners of the world, these everyday necessities are much more difficult to come by.
Women are nowadays key players in the migration equation. They make substantive contributions to their adopted societies, to their home countries and to their families. They are engines of integration, tolerance and prosperity.
The number 8 UN Millennium Development Goals calls to improve maternal health. But because of lack of money, pregnant migrants are often endangering their lives by disappearing from antenatal care to give birth at home, some turning up later in labor with severe complications.
Life for a migrant woman can be hell. Women migrants and IDPs are some of the most marginalized people in Sudan and most vulnerable to violence, abuse and persecution, as the story of a young Ethiopian woman in Sudan gang raped by seven men while she was three months pregnant shows.