Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Invitation to a workshop in London on gender, migration and development, 5 July

When: 5 July 2017
Where: Christian Aid, 35-41 Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London SE1 7RL

The issue of migration is a hot topic all over the world in current times. The refugee crises in the Middle East and among the Rohingya, and hardening attitudes about the costs and benefits of migration have meant that it is a regular headline maker.

Last year the General Assembly of the United Nations brought together international governmental stakeholders to debate policy innovations. This culminated in a pledge to develop Global Compacts on migrants and refugees.

Within these discussions issues of poverty reduction and gender are fairly prominent. However, their parameters are often tightly drawn. When it comes to development, the issue of remittances looms large with some discussion of labour rights and overcoming inequality, as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals. This angle frames migrants as drivers of development through their bolstering of the local economy in their communities of origin, their investments in infrastructure and the new ideas they bring into these communities.

It also frames migrants as victims when exploitative labour markets are thought to breach their rights or reduce their potential as drivers of development. Little attention has been paid to the relationship between poverty and social change and how that may prompt the migration of new categories of migrants. Likewise, the social outcomes of migration and remittances in terms of desired life paths and (dis)empowerment are under-explored despite the fact that they often are perceived as indicators of development. A new area which has only just begun to be explored is the effect on poor people of large inflows and settlement of refugees and internally displaced people.

When it comes to gender a common misconception lingers: that migration is a male issue. The exception is global care chains which unanimously are spoken about as the feminisation of migration. Gendered dynamics linked with migration thus become demoted to concern the sex of the migrant. This may be due to weaknesses in data collection, spanning from failing to capture migration forms that women are more likely to engage in, to constructing migrants as non-gendered while privileging the male experience.

Where women’s migration is addressed within policy it is increasingly in relation to trafficking and coercion and yet female migration has many facets and is not automatically disempowering and abusive. The same holds for women managing remittances and the family’s well-being temporarily or more long term. How they negotiate empowerment and constraint deserves more attention to better understand the links between migration, development and gender.

Other weaknesses in the formulation of policy and practical guidance include that: policy processes are highly politicised and often fail to take account of the best available evidence; the voices and experiences of migrants and those closest to them are not prominent within public and political debates; source and destination community insights on migration are marginal; and there is too little discussion of how households are affected by migration in material and non-material (social and cultural) ways.

What will we do?
To expand our knowledge and networks on gender, development and migration we will be hosting a half-day workshop in London where speakers from academia and the non-governmental sector will share insights from their work.

Who is it aimed at?
It is a discussion that should be of interest to those working on poverty reduction and gender – whether they are migration experts or not. Our intention is to have multiple foci to share knowledge about migrants, internally displaced people, and refugees in the neighbour zones of conflicts and about the social, and highly gendered, outcomes of migration for non-migrants.

Through this dialogue we aim to:
• Hear the latest in gender, development, and migration
• Forge new partnerships
• Strategise about the development of the global compacts and dialogues and actions related to the Sustainable Development Goals
• Explore how we can continue to share learning in the future


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