Caritas Internationalis urged its 165 national members to unite to protect the rights of women migrants at the end of its special ‘Female face of Migration’ conference.
Over 100 representatives from the Caritas confederation of Catholic charities and other migration experts from 50 countries attended the three-day conference in Saly, Senegal, 30 November to 2 December.
Speaking at the end, Caritas Internationalis Secretary-General Lesley-Anne Knight said, “Behind the difficulties that women migrants face, there is always poverty and a lack of a sense of belonging and of being part of a family.
“Caritas organisations should get involved at a local and national level, lobby political and religious leaders and open their hearts to their sisters and brothers who are seeking peace and security in their country.”
Caritas calls for effective and lasting international solutions to protect women migrants and ensure they are supported to make informed choices.
Women represent roughly half of the world’s migrants. Their rights are not sufficiently respected. They often work in poorly regulated sectors and face violence, abuse or exploitation.
Many national Caritas organisations work to help them. Caritas projects to help female migration include shelter, training and education, food, micro-finance loans, help to repatriate and health, psychological and legal assistance.
However, participants at the conference urged stronger cooperation and collaboration between Caritas members in countries of origin, transit and destination.
The conference also said Caritas members should:
- Have a greater presence on borders to improve monitoring
- Lobby governments to uphold international law in the protection of migrants.
- Governments should ratify key conventions such as the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Migrant Workers Convention, giving special attention to the needs of women throughout the whole migratory process
- Advocate for a convention to protect domestic workers
- Raise awareness among Church authorities and Christian communities about the migration of women
- Encourage the Church to use its vast reach to speak as one voice about the difficulties of migration
- Promote policies which prioritise the protection of families in migration countries
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