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 Comments to Rev2 of IMRF Progress Declaration

Download the PDF.

Comments, Rev 2, 14 April, 2022

The Women in Migration Network [WIMN] welcomes advances in the Progress Declaration negotiations.  We express thanks to states advocating for a gender-responsive declaration.  At the same time we are concerned that there is little evidence in the document of an integrated gender approach, one which situates the particular experiences of women and gender non-conforming migrants in the context of migration–including with regard to root causes of migration, labour rights, climate-related displacement, and the need for expanded rights-based regular pathways and regularization policies.

 General Comments:

  1. The Progress Declaration must reaffirm and seek to implement and strengthen the Global Compact for Migration. This is essential for a successful IMRF outcome. As a UNGA Resolution, states that did not sign the Compact in 2018 can fully embrace it and adopt national plans, while collaborating regionally and globally.
  2. We affirm strengthening of human rights commitments.  Women’s rights are human rights, migrant women’s rights are migrant rights.  All human rights for all migrants must be affirmed across migration policy.
  3. We welcome the reaffirmation of States’ obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their migration status. This is especially important for women migrants who are more likely to lack access to regular pathways and work.  This should extend to decent work for all migrant workers, regardless of status, as enshrined in various ILO and other human rights treaties.
  4. We strongly affirm language recognizing that all returns must be safe, voluntary and dignified.  This should be retained.
  5. It is imperative that humanitarian assistance not be criminalized.
  6. We welcome language addressing racism and racial discrimination and in particular the references to systemic racism.
  7. We affirm language calling for an end to all child immigration detention and taking into account that such detention is never in the best interest of the child.
  8. There should be explicit commitment to both national and regional support for families in their efforts to identify missing migrants.
  9. We welcome retention of language on safe disembarkation (para 55), which addresses a protection gap essential for saving lives of migrants in distress at sea.
  10. Potential indicators for measuring progress (para.49) should include human rights, gender and child-sensitive markers within the indicator framework.

Women migrants:

There is a continued and problematic tendency in the Rev.2 to see women migrants primarily in situations of vulnerability, to equate all violence with gender-based violence, and to infantilize women by lumping them together with children, without recognizing their leadership and agency.  In general, only a few issues such as GBV are raised in reference to migrant women, rather than exploring the full range of their experiences in migration.  This falls short of the women’s autonomy approach of the gender-responsive guiding principle.

Specific concerns:

There is no paragraph focused on women migrants in the introductory section. Para. 9bis was focused on women migrant workers and is now more general. We welcome a paragraph focused on the labour rights of all migrant workers and request that an explicit reference to Freedom of Association be included.

The unintended effect of expanding 9bis to all migrant workers is that we lose attention to women migrants. We urge states to add a paragraph here focusing on women migrants, just as there are on migrant children and also on racism. This should recognise the situations and experiences of all women migrants, not just those in remunerated or contractual work, and commit to accelerating efforts to ensure a rights-based and gender responsive approach to migration, affirming respect for women’s decision-making and their full, equal, effective and meaningful participation, which are critical to achieving their safe, orderly and regular migration.

Similarly, in para. 42, the linking of women with children is disempowering to women and can lead to policy responses that restrict their human rights. We request that the references to children here are deleted; they are adequately addressed in para. 42bis.

We recognize the importance of work to prevent and address sexual and gender-based violence, including violence and harassment in the world of work in line with ILO Convention 190. However, without other language on gender and/or women’s rights and autonomy this leaves the text rather unbalanced, positioning women primarily as victims of this violence. We are concerned that there is no language recognising sexual and reproductive health and rights. These are critical to ensuring women’s resilience and adaptation, including to SGBV. The right to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health-care services has been repeatedly affirmed in UNGA resolutions.[1]

Other concerns:

Climate, Para 23: We urge retention of the reference to the need for climate financing and to loss and damage (based on UNFCCC decision 3/CP.18 and SG report para. 22), such as: “Climate finance, including to address loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change, and other efforts…”.  In addition, please delete reference to “large movements”, which feeds anti-migrant narratives. 

Pathways, Para. 43: We welcome additions on enhancing and diversifying pathways, migrants in vulnerable situations, family reunification and regularization. Retain. We suggest additions to ensure that labour mobility agreements are rights-based and gender-responsive, in line with the language of GCM objective 5 (para. 21(a): “Develop human rights-based and gender-responsive bilateral, regional and multilateral labour mobility agreements…”).

[1] eg. New York Declaration (para.31: “We will provide access to sexual and reproductive health-care services”). It is also included in some related negotiated texts, such as the 2021 Political Declaration on the Implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons (A/76/L.11, para.12 and in the UNGA VAW resolutions (e.g., A/RES/75/161, para.15).

Our Message on International Women’s Day 2021

We call for a new social compact that guarantees social protection, labour rights and women’s human rights for all women in migration

Download a PDF of this statement here

On this International Women’s Day, the Women in Migration Network (WIMN) once more calls on states to take bold, transformative action as worldwide, we seek a safe, equitable and just recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the social and economic crises it has further fueled. Now is not the time to “return” to an unjust “normal”.

WIMN is a global, intersectional feminist human rights network that promotes women’s human rights at the center of all migration and development policy and migrants’ rights in feminist advocacy. We prioritize the interests of women in all their diversity and those of their families, in their various forms, who are affected by migration around the world.

More than a year into a global pandemic, the vaccine and a post-pandemic future are on the agenda. The crisis has exposed numerous systemic problems—including the informality in our economies, weak health care systems, lack of a social safety net, structural racism, gender discrimination, inhumane migration regimes and gaping inequalities between nations.

For migrant women, the past year’s crisis has exacerbated the trauma, instability and uncertainty in their lives and those of their families—and longterm consequences are yet to be seen.

More than ever, we need inclusive, rights-based and gender-responsive approaches including durable social protections in countries of origin, transit and destination; robust labor protection frameworks; gender sensitive, rights-based immigration systems; emergency responses that contribute to regenerative, sustainable economies, clear checks on corporate power; and stronger democratic institutions. As we begin to also turn our attention to addressing the world’s climate crisis, these commitments are also critical. 

Migrant women are concentrated in both “essential workers” and “disposable workers” groups impacted by the pandemic. While professionals may have moved into their homes and continued to work on-line (with women doing triple duty as workers, care-providers and educators), “essential workers” found themselves in dramatically different circumstances. Jobs in health care, cleaning, elder care, farm labour, transit, shipping warehouses and more may have continued, but often without decent wages, paid sick or medical leave, access to health care or adequate protective gear. As restaurants, markets and retail stores shut down, low wage service workers, many of them migrant women of color, found themselves without jobs and with no safety net. 

In some countries, migrant women work with bi-lateral labor contracts, such as domestic workers in the MENA region. When COVID-19 hit, they were suddenly without jobs, scrambling to return home even as borders were closed. Many were evicted from employers’ homes and left to fend for themselves without support; wage theft has been rampant. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the many systemic problems that have hit especially hard on groups most marginalized by race, ethnicity and migration status. Public health systems have been gutted by years of austerity programmes, privatized health care is rarely accessible to these marginalized populations. The lack of health care, environmental racism, overcrowded housing and work in unhealthy and often dangerous jobs has long put communities of color and migrant communities at higher risk—and higher COVID-19 death rates in some nations give testimony to the effect of these inequities. 

On a global level, the gaping North/South divide and unequal global financial rules have left poorer nations scrambling to meet needs with limited external support.  An early call for debt forgiveness to low-income countries was met with debt postponement, merely delaying a deeper crisis. This has meant little fiscal space for poor nations to offer stimulus packages and provide much-needed assistance—and too often, such assistance is out of reach for migrants, especially the undocumented.

While the roll-out of vaccines is opening a window to the decline of the coronavirus pandemic, the production, distribution and access issues have starkly highlighted existing inequalities within and between nations. As of mid-February, there were 4.2 billion doses of vaccine for 16% of the world population and only 2.5 billion doses for 84% of the world population. And within developed nations, race, class and migration-status disparities are gravely apparent. In New York City, for example, some white neighborhoods reportedly had up to 8 times the vaccination rate of predominantly Black neighborhoods in early 2021.

WIMN supports the United Nations Network on Migration call for States to “guarantee rapid, fair, and equitable access to vaccines for all and the inclusion of migrants, regardless of their status in their national COVID-19 vaccination programmes and other public health interventions”.  

On International Women’s Day and beyond, we need permanent solutions that provide support and services to all, regardless of migration status, and that will close the gaps in protections that continue to exclude millions of migrants and undocumented migrants in particular.

Specifically, we call for a new social compact that guarantees social protection, labour rights and women’s human rights for all women in migration, regardless of status. 

  • Vaccines must be made available for all, regardless of status or ability to pay. Women, in particular, need permanent access to healthcare regardless of status or ability to pay, with strong investments in quality public health systems.
  • Labour rights and protections including decent pay, sick pay, and long-term medical leave must be assured for all, regardless of status, and particularly for so-called “essential” workers. Work that is disproportionately performed by migrant women requires robust labour and health protections.
  • Government at all levels must address racism and xenophobia, including social exclusion, violence against migrants and stigmatization of returned migrants, which has increased during the pandemic. This must go beyond “messaging” campaigns to include police training, legal accountability for hate crimes and investing in jobs, social protection and infrastructure. This includes addressing the digital divide experienced by migrant women and their families, as well as online digital harassment and violence.
  • The intersecting realities of migrant women—who experience racism, exclusion as a migrant, religious intolerance, rejection due to sexual orientation or identity—must be addressed in policies and practice to ensure that rights can be claimed by ALL women in migration.
  • We want programs and policies to address gender-based violence in all areas of migrant women’s lives, including institutional violence.
  • The pandemic border closures that have stranded migrants or forced returns must be ended just as we urge the regularization of status of migrants working in destination countries and increased pathways for regular migration. We oppose “vaccine passports” that will further institutionalize inequalities across nation, gender, race and migratory status.
  • Migrants must urgently be released from detention in the context of the pandemic, and states must end policies of criminalization, detention and deportation of migrants, securitization and barring of asylum and refugees.
  • Migrant women are vital change agents and we can learn from and financially support the models of mutual aid and solidarity they have built during the pandemic.
  • Women must be at the center of decision-making—with their diverse roles as providers, care givers, home keepers, and essential workers in both the formal and informal economy, women, including LGBTQI women, understand how the crisis impacts their diverse families, community and workplace and must be heard.

As the world enters the second year of the global health crisis and we begin to see glimpses of an end to the pandemic, we can draw on lessons learned, on the many acts of solidarity and goodwill, to defeat the scourge of hate, fear and divisiveness and commit to a better, more inclusive and transformed world.

Graphic courtesy of Alianza Americas and Presente.  Artwork by Favianna Rodriguez courtesy of Presente.

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