International migration is a key factor of globalisation in today's world. It is a phenomenon that can play a positive role in promoting development and reducing poverty, both for migrants and for host communities. Every country on the planet is now involved in the movement of people, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination (UNFPA, 2006).

Recent reports by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) put the total number of international migrants at 281 million. Of this population, 135 million are women and girls in a situation of human mobility, or 3.5 per cent of the world's female population, 5 million more than the figure recorded in 2019 (IOM, 2022)

In the process of human mobility, these populations are uniquely affected by discrimination, abuse and gender-based violence, as well as face specific difficulties at different stages of migration, arising from the intersection of gender and other issues such as class, caste, migration status, nationality, age or sexual orientation (UN, 2019).

In the case of women, recent decades have witnessed a change in international migration patterns. Although the proportion of female migrants has not changed significantly over the past 60 years, an increasing number of women migrants are migrating independently for work, education or as heads of households (IOM, 2021).

This transformation has been characterised as the “feminisation” of migration, a feature that emphasises the role acquired by women in the processes of human mobility, no longer explained solely under the model of family reunification but as the pioneer of the movement (Mallimacci, 2011). Despite the new conditions, migrant women are among the most vulnerable to the violation of their human rights, due to their dual status as migrants and women (UNFPA, 2006).

Migrant girls and adolescents are not exempt from suffering greater discrimination, being more vulnerable to abuse and experiencing double discrimination in the country of destination, compared to young male migrants. Because of their young age, this population requires special protection and care, as outlined in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

Girls and adolescents in a situation of human mobility may face critical conditions such as abuse and be victims of human trafficking and exploitation, especially if they travel alone and through irregular routes. Furthermore, they face severe difficulties in effectively enjoying their fundamental rights, such as the right to identification, food, health and safety. 

Recommendation N°26 on Women Migrant Workers of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) states that, although both men and women migrate, it is not a gender-neutral phenomenon. Female migrants are in a different position as compared to men in terms of legal migration channels, the sectors into which they migrate, the forms of abuse they suffer and the consequences thereof.

Given this reality, the tool reaffirms the need for an approach that starts from an understanding of gender inequality, women's traditional roles, the gender imbalance in the labour market, the widespread prevalence of gender-based violence, and the feminisation of poverty and labour migration globally.

Gender studies have brought to the field of migration a renewal of analytical categories from which to rethink migration movements and the actors involved. Historically, migration studies have made women's migratory trajectories invisible or reduced their participation to the role of companions. This, in turn, has led to their invisibility as migrant subjects and the specific problems that affect them. These include multiple forms of violence, lack of access to rights due to lack of documentation or lack of knowledge of the local language (Garziglia, 2022).

A variety of challenges exist at different stages of migration processes where gender plays a key role. Women migrants often face multiple discrimination due to their nationality, migration status and gender. Migrant girls are particularly vulnerable because they are in double jeopardy: they are young and female. However, little attention has been paid to how discrimination and violations of women’s rights and freedoms may also influence their migration decisions (IDB, 2021).

In terms of education and labour market insertion, since educational opportunities are often more limited for women in their countries of origin, they are more likely to be employed in less attractive and lower-paying jobs in their host countries. Moreover, because they often work in gender-biased sectors of the informal economy (domestic work), they are exposed to a much higher risk of exploitation, violence, and abuse (IDB, 2021).

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is based on international human rights law. Goal 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Its achievement is the necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. In this regard, providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care and decent work will boost sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity as a whole.

In response to this call, the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA) is organizing the Virtual Seminar “PROMOTING AND PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF MIGRANT WOMEN AND GIRLS FROM A GENDER PERSPECTIVE,” to be held in April this year. The activity aims to learn about the best practices implemented in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to achieve the objective of promoting and protecting the rights of women and girls in situations of human mobility.

The Seminar will be a space for specialists in the field, representatives of Member States, migration authorities, representatives of regional and subregional organisations, and representatives of civil society to analyse the different initiatives that have been implemented in this area, as well as the challenges that still need to be addressed in order to guarantee the human rights agenda of migrant women and girls.

  1. Learn about successful programmes that have been implemented in the Member States through the action of governments, international organisations, civil society and/or private stakeholders, for the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant women and girls from a gender perspective in the areas of education, health, and work.
  2. Promote an institutional framework and guiding principles that enable the design of migration policies based on human rights and gender, aimed at addressing the specific needs of migrant women and girls and combating the scourges of discrimination, exploitation and abuse.
  3. Make visible and disseminate the importance of achieving gender equality and the empowerment of migrant women and girls in specific areas to contribute to sustainable development: the possibility of transferring money to their communities of origin under favourable conditions, the contribution of their labour force to the development of the economies of the host countries, and the symbolic and cultural contributions of this population in the receiving societies.  
Expected Results
  1. Compilation of information on best practices and lessons learned at the local/regional level to be disseminated among Member States and to serve as a model for achieving the objective of promoting and protecting the rights of migrant women and girls.
  2. Inclusion of the gender perspective in the spaces for reflection, discussion, and decision-making for the resolution of the specific problems faced by migrant women and girls in the different stages of the migration processes.
  3. Generation of greater knowledge at regional level on migration and gender perspective in order to provide new tools to the actors involved in the resolution of the challenges of human mobility with a view to increasing their capacities to manage the migration phenomenon.
  4. Development of proposals to move towards gender-sensitive migration governance, in line with Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Recommendation 26 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
  5. Preparation of a document containing the conclusions of this Virtual Seminar (best practices, lessons learned, and challenges), which will be useful for decision-makers at different levels, international organisations, academic institutions, and civil society organisations.


Event information
  • Date: 20 April 2023
  • Time: 10:00 - 2:35 (Caracas time | GMT-4)
  • Place: online via ZOOM platform
  • Modality: virtual
  • Registration:

Thursday, 20 April 2023

10:00 – 10:30


  • Ambassador Clarems Endara, Permanent Secretary of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA)
  • Representative of the Regional Office of UN Women (to be confirmed)
  • Debla López, UNICEF Regional Gender and Migration Specialist
  • Representative of UNHCR Regional Office (to be confirmed)
10:30 – 11:50


Moderator: Analyst of SELA

  • Alba Goycochea, IOM Regional Office for South America: Presentation on female migration in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Valentina Duque, UNHCR Regional Office for the Americas: Presentation on the accumulated experience in the promotion and protection of the rights of girls, adolescents, and women in situations of forced displacement in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Rachel Marcus and Diana Jiménez, Overseas Development Institute (ODI): Presentation of the report “Children on the move in Latin America and the Caribbean: a review of evidence.” Remarks on the need for a gender approach to address the differentiated needs of migrant girls and adolescents
  • Ana María Sáiz, Migration Unit (IDB): Presentation of the report “Migration from a gender perspective. Operational ideas for its integration in development projects.” Remarks on the main strategies implemented in the region for the socio-economic integration of migrant women and girls
11:50 – 12:00

Questions and answers / Concluding remarks

12:00 – 1:00

Moderator: Analyst of SELA

  • Regional Office of UN Women: Presentation of protection models and strategies implemented at regional level to respond to girls, adolescents and women in situations of human mobility (to be confirmed)
  • Diana Jeannette García, Unit for Migration Policy, Registration and Identity of Persons (UPMRIP) of the Government of Mexico: Presentation on the experience in the development of a migration policy with a gender perspective and best practices implemented for the promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls in a situation of human mobility. 
  • Gender Unit of the National Migration Service of Chile: Presentation on the experience in the formulation of migration policies with a gender perspective and strategies for the early detection of human trafficking and smuggling crimes (to be confirmed)
1:00 – 1:10

Questions and answers / Concluding remarks

1:10  – 1:20

10-minute break

1:20  –  2:05

Moderator: Analyst of SELA

  • Lucrecia Hernández, Sures Civil Society (Venezuela): Presentation on the experience of Venezuelan women and girls at various stages of the migration process
  • Katia Jurado Díaz, Deputy Director of the Mobility Area of Corporación Sisma Mujer (Colombia): Presentation on the work developed with Venezuelan migrant women and girls who are victims of expressions of violence and discrimination
  • Michel Joseph, National Coordinator of Immigrants (CONI-Chile): Presentation on the work developed with migrant women in the fields of fundamental rights, economic autonomy, and the right to a life free of violence
2:05 – 2:15

Questions and answers / Concluding remarks

2:15 – 2:35


Moderator: Representative of SELA

  • Sabrina Jurán, Population and Development Technical Advisor, UNFPA Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean. Closing remarks (to be confirmed)
  • Concluding remarks by participants
  • Closing remarks