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Empowering Migrant Women is 2012 Focus for International Organization for Migration

Rural women fair worse than any other group economically and socially

Kim Lewis

This year, the International Organization for Migration, IOM marked International Women’s Day, March 8, 2012, by focusing on rural women.  The organization says more women than ever before are joining the ranks of the world’s migrants as they look for ways to support their families and gain economic empowerment.

THE IOM said rural women represent about a quarter of the world’s population and while other groups such as urban men and women are making progress in terms of economic empowerment and gender equality, migrant women still suffer from having the lowest incomes, the least amount of education,  and less voice in social and political arenas.

“Some progress has been achieved in terms of education, access to housing in certain areas, but what is important to remember this year, where our theme is rural women, is to remember that rural women fair worse than rural men, urban men and urban women in virtually all of the millennium development goals,” said Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Gender Coordinator.

Lopez-Ekra said the needs of migrant women vary depending on the country of origin and country of destination.

“More and more often we see that all of the countries in the world have an interest in migration in one way or another, said Lopez-Ekra.

The IOM sent out a message asking the international community to become more engaged in the plight of migrant women by helping to provide the necessary tools that will empower them to improve their lives.

One of the biggest obstacles the inability of rural women to access information that is tailored to their needs.

“That is clearly explaining the risk of migration and the potential for migration, so they can make their decision to migrate or not, in an informed way,” said Lopez-Ekra.

Also, said Lopez-Ekra these women need to know the physical vulnerability they will face in migrating.

Another need is access to better regulation of domestic work and care work.

For economic empowerment, Lopez-Ekra said migrant women need to benefit from the money that they earn.

“[They need to] safely and easily transfer remittances to their families back home.  But also use these remittances to better prepare their own return if they wish to, and better invest it for their own economic empowerment,” explained Lopez-Ekra.

Lopez-Ekra said the international community should not only be engaged in international dialogue, but also be engaged on the national, regional and inter-regional level to be able to better regulate and protect the rights of migrant women.

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