Int’l Women’s Day 2022: Responding to Intersecting Global Crises: Women in Migration Mobilize for Transformative, Rights-based Policies

On International Women’s Day 2022, the Women in Migration Network (WIMN) salutes the power, creativity and organizing capacity of women around the world and calls for full and equal rights for women in all their diversity.

This year we celebrate hard won gains for women—even as health, economic, climate and war crises mean huge setbacks for women’s rights and well-being around the world. 

  • While workers, among them many women migrant workers, stepped up to maintain essential services during the pandemic, we are appalled that state efforts to “get back to normal” or even to “build back better” continue to ignore the need for labor rights, including the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, living wages and benefits. Quality public healthcare for all regardless of migration status, and the regularization of undocumented migrant workers—who were deemed “essential,” yet continue to be seen as “disposable”—are much needed. WIMN joins the global labor movement in reiterating our call for a New Social Contract that transforms unjust global power relations and systems, rather than merely “building back better.”
  • While some global north countries are taking steps to move on from COVID-19, millions in the global south, including many migrants and refugees, have yet to receive a single dose of the As a member of the Feminists for a People’s Vaccine, WIMN insists that all people have affordable access to the vaccine and that the WTO adopt a TRIPS waiver to make vaccine technology available in the global south. 
  • The upcoming UN Commission on the Status of Women CSW-66 prioritizes the climate crisis at a time of increasing climate-related events and climate-displacement. While more significant mitigation efforts are urgently needed to address climate change, financing for adaptation and for loss and damage must increase and reflect the uneven responsibility and burden of climate change impacts. These policies must be developed with the inclusion of all impacted groups; be gender-responsive; address race, class, age, disability and other intersectional considerations; and protect the rights of those displaced by climate change. This means creating flexible, rights-based regular pathways for migration, including for those forced to migrate and who may not “fit” existing criteria for protection or regular pathways for migration. For migrant workers, the right to organize and collectively bargain is crucial as they seek access to decent work in the face of extreme climate impacts and to protect themselves in their workplaces against adverse occupational safety and climate-related health impacts.
  • In May, 2022 the United Nations General Assembly will host the first International Migration Review Forum (IMRF). WIMN urges coherence in migration governance. In particular, regular pathways centered around the human rights of migrants must be developed hand-in-hand with the regularization of undocumented migrants. Policies must break down the artificial separation between refugees/asylum-seekers on the one hand, and migrants on the other. All people on the move have rights and should have regular pathways, regardless of the incoherent categories created by migration systems. Moreover, in establishing regular pathways, states should not misdirect migrants into flawed and abusive temporary labor migration programs.
  • We are pained by Russia’s war on Ukraine and the tragic loss of lives and communities, noting the particular burdens placed on women in times of conflict. We affirm the EU and US’s decisions to grant Temporary Protection and to welcome those fleeing the Ukraine. At the same time, we are appalled by the racist behavior towards Black, Roma and South Asian refugees from Ukraine at some borders. We call for rights-based equal treatment of all refugees, not only in this conflict but around the world.

The Women in Migration Network grounds these concerns in a larger context—one of a disproportionate care burden on women; the dismantling of public health infrastructure over many years; the growing debt burden for low-income countries and the brain drain of skilled professionals from the global south. The continued inequality within and between nations, the unabated flow of wealth from poor to rich nations, and the ongoing influence of corporate trade, migration and labor agendas are simply unacceptable. Rights-based and just migration policy, climate action, and health and economic responses will require holistic, systemic, intersectional approaches. WIMN will continue to work toward these goals with allies around the world.

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