On the Road to the IMRF – Updated

NOTE: The United Nations Webcast services will provide live streaming coverage of the International Migration Review Forum in all UN official languages, through the UN Web TV website at: http://webtv.un.org

As the UN’s International Migration Review Forum concludes on Friday, May 20, WIMN is sharing here a round-up of our activities. Several members of WIMN, most representing their respective organizations and sectors, actively participated in the IMRF program, in side events and parallel spaces, publications and social media–all the while navigating the challenging environment given the Covid pandemic.

Be sure to follow the links to access documents!

MEDIA ALERT – MAY 20, 2022

WIMN Responds to Adoption of UN International Migration Review Forum Progress Declaration

Click here to read Media Release

WIMN’s Statement on the IMRF Progress Declaration

“…We have expected the IMRF to advance rights for migrants, particularly for migrant women.  We are grateful that in the current geopolitical context, States have reaffirmed the Compact, but we are dismayed that there is less ambition for or commitment to bold forward movement. International human rights, women’s rights and labor rights are not up for negotiation…”

Read and download the full statement here.

WIMN’s Pledge at the IMRF 2022
The Women in Migration Network joins states and other stakeholders in making this pledge to improve and advance the Global Compact for Migration.

“The Women in Migration Network has played an active role in preparations for the IMRF, from participation in Regional Reviews and the Gender workstream of the UN Network, to a role in Progress Declaration negotiations, to a strong presence at the IMRF in New York. Like many, we see the IMRF not as an end, but as a step towards deepened Member State commitment to gender-responsive implementation of the Global Compact. This entails tangible steps to apply the gender-responsive guiding principle to all objectives in the Global Compact, not merely mentioning women here and there…”

Read and download the entire pledge here.


Publications and media

Several WIMN members contributed to the Spotlight Report on Global Migration, produced by the Global Coalition on Migration, where WIMN is a member.

Click here to read and download the report.






Op-eds published by OpenDemocracy.net


* Is the world delivering on the Global Migration Compact?

By Bandana Pattanaik, International Coordinator of Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW).

* What should the world do about climate migrants?

     In Spanish: ¿Qué debe hacer el mundo frente a los migrantes climáticos?

     In Portuguese: O que devemos fazer em relação aos migrantes climáticos?

By Catherine Tactaquin, former director for the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and a member of the Women and Migration Network

* Decent work for all, including migrants

By Neha Misra, Senior Specialist at the Solidarity Center, and Shannon Lederer, Director of Immigration Policy at the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

* The human cost of border deterrence

By Alma Maquitico, Director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR)

Women’s Caucus

Convened Wednesday, 18 May

The Progress Declaration continues tired narratives of victimization of women in migration, without even a stand alone paragraph focused on the rights of migrant women in all their diversity.  How can we insist on the centrality of women’s human rights and labor rights in migration policy as we move forward from the IMRF?  Join us! 

Organized by Women in Migration Network/WIMN.  Co-sponsored by  ACT Alliance, AFL-CIO, Alianza Americas, Bloque Latinoamericano Sobre Migración, GAATW, Global Coalition on Migration, IMUMI, International Detention Coalition, Latinas en Poder, NGO Committee on Migration, NNIRR, PICUM, Refugee Women’s Commission, Solidarity Center.


Sustainable Re/integration of migrant and trafficked women in Asia, Europe, and Latin America

Convened on Tuesday, May 17, in person and online

Moderated by Carol Barton, Women in Migration Network

Co-sponsored by the Government of Bangladesh, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW), Women in Migration Network, Bangladesh Nari Sramik Kendra (BNSK), Espacio de Mujer (Colombia), Fair Work (Netherlands) and Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP -Bangladesh)

Click here for more information and program

From pledges to practices: ‘Actioning’ and sustaining gender-responsiveness before, during and beyond migration crises

Convened on Thursday, May 19, in-person and online

Hear from practitioners and migrants with lived experiences on how to put gender-responsive approaches to migration governance into action. The special interactive session will feature pledges and good practices on gender-responsiveness live during this hybrid IMRF side event. Practices and pledges can be shared on the newly launched Gender+Migration hub in English, French and Spanish.

The side event is co-sponsored by the government of Canada, the International Migration Research Centre/Gender+Migration Hub, Women in Migration Network, and IOM Research, together with the Permanent Missions to the UN of the governments of Ecuador, Germany, Mexico and the Philippines.


The Women in Migration Network, together with its members, allies and partners, is working to strengthen human rights commitments and states’ actions for more just and humane migration policies and practices as the United Nations convenes the first International Migration Review Forum — an assessment and vehicle to further the Global Compact for a Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). The Compact was approved by member states in December 2018 in Marrakech.

WIMN has submitted comments to the last two revisions of the Progress Declaration, which is expected to be adopted by states at the IMRF. The initial (zero) draft of the declaration was published on March 17. Revision 4 is expected the week of May 2.

In our latest comment, for Rev 3, WIMN identifies four priority concerns, and provides detailed recommendations on language revisions in the draft. The four priority concerns include:

  1. Create a separate paragraph (9 pre) specifically addressing the realities of migrant women.  There are paragraphs addressing race and children’s concerns, but not one addressing migrant women, not all of whom are remunerated workers. 
  2. Separate references to women and children in order to address their unique and specific needs. The draft continues to combine women and children, infantalizing women and stressing vulnerability and minimizing women’s independence, agency and leadership.
  3. A clear reference to the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining for migrant workers as well as a commitment to implementing ILO Conventions 189 and 190 in practice. 
  4.  A commitment to real migrant participation, including that of migrant women’s organizations, in the policy-making process. Revisions in the draft refer to migrant “contributions” without acknowledging actual participation.

Click the following to read and download WIMN’s comment documents:

WIMN’s Comment of Rev 3

WIMN’s Comment on Rev 2

Read the interview:

IMRF puts global spotlight on migration

WIMN members interviewed by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung on the IMRF

WIMN in the News: IMRF puts global spotlight on migration

WIMN members Carol Barton, WIMN’s co-convenor, and Neha Misra of Solidarity Center recently spoke with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) about the expectations towards the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF), the first review of the UN’s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, approved by states in December 2018. They commented on the problem of shrinking spaces at the UN and the key recommendations of the “Spotlight Report on Global Migration”, soon to be published by FES and the Global Coalition on Migration, where WIMN is a member and a contributor to the report, which will be released on April 28. FES also spoke with Stéphane Jaquemet of the International Catholic Migration Commission – ICMC, also a member of the coalition. The IMRF will take place in New York On May 17-22.

Read the interview here.

Reflections on UNMN Listening Sessions on Migration, Covid-19 & Gender

On June 11, Women in Migration Network helped to convene, along with UN Women, the United Nations Network on Migration (UNMN) “listening sessions” on the impact of Covid-19 on migration, through a gender lens – part of a series exploring “mobility in the time of Covid-19”. The sessions provided an important venue for civil society participants worldwide to share critical reports on the impact of the global pandemic. These sessions were followed by a UNMN webinar, on June 18, that included participation of states, civil society and other stakeholders.

Following is a “reflection” on the listening sessions by WIMN. It can be downloaded here and can also viewed on the UNMN website.

Reflections on the Listening Sessions on Migration, Covid-19 and Gender

The two sessions were both rich in information and perspective, largely coming from presenters embedded in a variety of regions and countries and with direct experience and exposure. Very troubling was the consistency of the reports from the global regions: migrant women are facing increased risks, abuse and exploitation during this pandemic, with immediate and long term consequences for themselves and for their families. While as a member of the Women in Migration Network (WIMN), which helped to convene these sessions, I am kept fairly well informed of situations on the ground and at policy levels for migrant women, I was really struck by the intensity of the current situation that in just a few months, has dramatically impacted migrant women – and unfortunately, not for the better.

A few of the themes lifted from these sessions:

  • The problems experienced during this global pandemic by migrant and refugee women, including those internally displaced, predate the pandemic, but have been intensified by the nature of the health crisis, lockdowns, and government policies.
  • Lack of immigration documentation – being irregular – has compounded these problems in ways that go well beyond the “normal” if also critical, experiences of other population sectors, especially for those in vulnerable economic situations. The marginalization of irregular migrants has deepened, with little or no governmental action for remedies or even humanitarian aid.
  • Serving in “essential” roles during the pandemic has exacerbated health risks and rights for migrant women. Perhaps ironically, migrant women have shown that they are “essential” workers in many populations – providing medical care, working in home care, especially with children and the elderly, working throughout the food supply chain, cleaning industries, and more – all areas strongly affected by the virus and/or by the consequences of population lockdowns and mobility limits. Yet, those engaged in such work have traditionally been undervalued, underpaid and exploited and this has not changed, by and large, during this pandemic.
  • The danger of rising racism and xenophobia, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere, migrants and refugees – particularly from Asia – have been targets of racist abuse and attacks, accused of spreading the virus. The spread of Covid-19 has also been cited as the basis for stricter border controls, despite health experts’ admonishments that this has little impact on containing the pandemic.

We heard how the pandemic has worsened – dramatically, in many instances – access to labor rights and social protections for migrant women with even more dire conditions for health and safety, especially for those working on temporary visas or who are undocumented. Country lockdowns have severely limited the ability to work and earn wages — and even when there is work, it comes with health risks and labor exploitation. In some countries, domestic workers have been locked in with families, may not be paid, are caring for people with Covid, have no masks or protective gear, nor access to cell phones to report abuses or seek assistance. Others have been forced to work, for example, in the garment and other industries during the lockdown, risking travel to and from work and in the workplace, and spreading contagion to their households.

Still others were released from their jobs – sometimes without pay – but have been stranded, unable to home countries due to lack of transportation and resources, and without status, unable to access relief supports, even if available at all.

Similarly, women farmworkers may have lost their jobs – or if they had work, given the “essential” agricultural production, they work at risk to exposure and are in positions of even greater exploitation.

School closures have affected migrant women workers with school-age children, while young girls risk dropping out of school altogether to help their families.

Many migrant women have been the primary breadwinners for their families, whether their families are with them, or whether they would send remittances to their home countries. These incomes have been lost with an immediate impact. In many families these lost remittances were a lifeline — income that saved families from impoverishment. That support has been removed and may not be re-established for some time.

Across the regions, we also heard that domestic and workplace violence has increased as women have been trapped in more stressful situations. In one area, calls to hotlines on domestic abuse increased by 162%! Increased child abuse has also been reported.

Not surprising, irregular status continues to undermine access to protection, services and rights. Migrant women not getting tested for Covid-19 for fear of detection and deportation, a fear not unfounded in some countries as migration status is registered for testing. Even beyond access to Covid-related testing and health care, the breakdown in health care access also includes support for mental health, for reproductive and maternal health care; in some areas migrant women are even risking home deliveries to avoid contact with public health institutions and risk detention and deportation.

And of course, the global pandemic has occurred in an environment where we have experienced increased racism and xenophobia, the expansion of repressive immigration measures, and now, more border closures. In the U.S., this has a wholesale lockdown against asylum seekers, all the while deporting migrants, including many who are Covid-positive.

The situation has not been without resilience, by migrant and refugee women and allies. We did hear that some countries, there is a growing recognition of the vital roles that migrants, and women in particular, have played in societies – roles that have sometimes been demeaned and often exploited. Care givers, house cleaners, gardeners, farmworkers, health care workers. Foreign-born nurses – over 15% of nurses in the US – work on the frontlines caring for Covid-positive patients in hospitals and in nursing homes. Relief funds, sometimes supported by foundations but more often tapping individual donations, have sprung up to provide much-needed financial support. Food kitchens and free meals have been offered where public sentiment acknowledges that “we are all in this together.” There has been talk of a public “narrative shift” – towards a more positive view of migrants and their roles in the workforce and as members of communities.

In a handful of countries, work permits have been extended, or specific funds have been extended to support irregular migrants as well, during the pandemic. But as the pandemic continues to take hold around the world, disrupting economies, stretching public support systems – where they even exist – a long term economic crisis looms, including national and regional food crises (and we already have food insecurity for many), supply chain upheavals, a severe decline in remittances, and of course, a global climate emergency that has also affected by the pandemic and its consequences. (And no, the temporary clearing of the air with lower carbon emissions hasn’t fixed our climate crisis.)

Despite the troubling and consistent reports during these valuable listening sessions, our knowledge of Covid-19’s impact, with a migration and gender lens, may only be known down the road, and if we now also ramp up reporting access and data collection. This is something that UN Women and many other institutions are urging.

These valuable listening sessions reaffirmed for me the recommendations that have emerged not just now, but over the past years, especially in the process towards the Global Compact for Migration. It will not be enough to include a gender lens in addressing the complex issues of global migration. With the challenge to find and make widely available a vaccine against Covid-19, and continued limits to mobility and a long economic recovery, we are all fearful of the devastating impacts on women in migration. All the more motivation to ramp up our attention to both immediate remedies and long-term solutions.

Migrant and refugee women, including LBTQ women, must be included as stakeholders and change agents. Their experience, vital roles in broad societies and in migrant communities, are critical to ensuring that “recovery” drives us to create a better world without the structural inequalities and injustices that only became more glaring in this global crisis.

  • Catherine Tactaquin, Women in Migration Network