Church demands greater protection for female migrants

More than 100 migration experts hailing from more than 50 countries gathered in Senegal last week, where they discussed the role, impact and experiences of women and girls in migration, and underscored the work and collective potential of the Church in reducing vulnerability.

Organized by Caritas Internationalis (CI), in cooperation with Caritas Senegal, the three-day conference focusing on “The female face of migration” brought together representatives from across the Caritas confederation, as well as partner institutions including the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), the International Union of Superior Generals (UISG), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

“Migration”, emphasized CI Secretary General, Leslie-Anne Knight, “can contribute to greater gender equality and to the empowerment of women. Women and girls are a vital part of the solution towards alleviating and eradicating poverty. Their role at the heart of the family, the community and society makes them powerful players in all aspects of life”.

In addition to the need to bring together the Church as “one voice” on migration, heavy emphasis was placed on the importance of involving actors across the migration spectrum in continuous dialogue and cooperation, beginning in migrant counties and communities of origin, and following all the way through to the countries of destination.

“It would become a source of hope and development if human mobility were acknowledged and countries of origin could benefit from it,” noted Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, President of Caritas Africa, at the opening of the conference. “This would imply policies that would open legal channels for migration, facilitate voluntary return and, above all, ensure that migrants’ rights are protected”.

Participants also urged for concerted work toward the ratification and implementation of key international conventions outlining the protections and responsibilities of migrants, and celebrated the simultaneous adoption in Geneva of a new piece of formal jurisprudence by the UN Committee on Migrant Workers that elaborates the rights and practical recommendations for the protection of migrant domestic workers—the majority of whom are women—under the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

“ICMC members around the world, particularly in Asia and the Gulf countries, have long been concerned with the suffering of domestic migrant workers and have worked tirelessly to provide safe refuge, protection and assistance to domestic workers fleeing abusive conditions”, stated ICMC Communications Officer, Alanna Ryan, who attended both the first week of the UN Committee’s session in Geneva, and the Caritas conference in Senegal.

“ICMC was one of the principal non-governmental organizations that contributed to the development of this new guidance, in close collaboration with CI, and we are thrilled about its potential to better protect so many migrant women working in inhumane domestic contexts”.

Among the specific recommendations put forth at the conclusion of the conference, participants urged stronger cooperation and collaboration between Caritas members in countries of origin, transit and destination and underscored the need for:

Greater Church presence on borders to improve monitoring; Lobbying governments to uphold international law in the protection of migrants;  Insisting upon the ratification of key conventions such as the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Migrant Workers’ Convention, giving special attention to the needs of women throughout the entirety of the migratory process;  Advocating for a convention to protect domestic workers; Raising awareness among Church authorities and Christian communities about the role, impact and experiences of women as related to migration; Encouraging the Church to use its vast reach to speak as one voice about the difficulties of migration; Promoting policies that prioritize the protection of families in countries of origin, transit and destination

Source:  ICMC

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