18 May 2011
More than 214 million people, half of them women, live outside their countries of origin as migrants or refugees. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) predicts that the total number of international migrants will be close to 250 million by 2050.
Caritas Female Face of Migration conference website
Caritas advocacy on migration has focused on the plight of women migrants, who often feel disempowered in their own countries and seek opportunities elsewhere. As poverty, conflict and climate change force more people from their homes, Caritas is working to protect migrants’ rights, especially those of women.
In 2010, CI brought together more than 100 migration experts in Senegal to discuss the feminisation of migration and its implications. As well as Caritas Member Organisations around the world, they included representatives from the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
CI has been instrumental in bringing the international dimensions of human trafficking into Coatnet (Christian Organisations Against Trafficking in Human Beings network). Coatnet is managed by the CI Policy Director and acts as a platform for sharing experience, development of advocacy actions and projects on prevention and assistance.
With the title “Under one roof – under one law”, Caritas campaigned for migrant domestic workers’ rights. The campaign’s simplicity and clarity was well received, not only by Caritas members but also externally, by trade unions and the International Labour Organisation. CI was involved with the MigrantWorkers Committee at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), bringing the issue of domestic workers to the attention of this body and setting up together with the Committee a one-day meeting with its members and civil society to discuss the situation of migrant domestic workers in different parts of the world and developing policy recommendations.
Caritas regularly participated in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) annual consultations with NGOs, leading sessions on Colombian refugees, resettlement and the plight of women in protracted refugee situations.
The international discourse on Migration and Development was influenced by Caritas. CI actively participated in the Civil Society Days of three “Global Fora on Migration and Development” (Manila, Athens and Puerto Vallarta) and contributed to shaping two of them by being a member of the International Advisory Committee in the run-up to these fora.
The Female Face of Migration conference
Over a hundred migration experts from across the world met in Saly, Senegal from 30 November to 2 December 2010 to discuss the feminisation of migration and its implications in terms of programmes and policies needed.
Women represent roughly half of the world’s migrants. They are a powerful lever for development and account for an ever-increasing proportion of the remittances sent home. Some women support entire families in their home countries. Their rights however are not sufficiently respected as they often work in poorly regulated sectors and face violence, abuse or exploitation along their journey. Caritas is committed to improving the situation of these women.
The diversity of Caritas organisations, representatives from bishops conferences, congregations and partner organisations brought together a unique pool of experiences and best practices at this event. A range of high-level experts from the Catholic Church, international organisations such as the IOM and ILO, as well as academics from different universities, were also invited to share their reflections and research with Caritas.
The participants gained valuable insight into the needs of migrant women and will act as messengers in their home countries to share this knowledge across the Caritas confederation. The exchange of experiences between participants from typical departure, transit and destination countries of migrants was particularly valued.
Caritas provides services for femalemigrants inmost of the world’s countries. Through this conference, new connections between national organisations have been established that will allow for further or new cooperation on programmes and joint advocacy work.
The conference identified five policy priorities: