Statement by The International Organization for Migration at the 74TH Session of the General Assembly Third Committee

Published Date: 
Friday, October 18, 2019
Kieran Gorman-Best, Senior Policy and Liaison Officer




NEW YORK, 10 OCT 2019



Mr. Chair, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is pleased to join the discussion on the advancement of women and would like to make brief comments looking at migration from a gender perspective under this important agenda point.

Gender is a very important factor shaping migrants’ experience. Migrant women today account for almost 50% of all migrants and are increasingly migrating as individuals. As economic decision makers in their family, in the community and in the workplace, they are indeed key players in the migration equation.

Unfortunately, women and girls on the move are often put at greater risk of all forms of violence and continue to be targeted by traffickers. Globally, nearly three quarters of all identified victims of trafficking are women and girls. The vast majority of identified victims who were trafficked for sexual exploitation are female, and 35 per cent of victims trafficked for forced labour are also female.

Although these statistics are sobering, we must not overlook the progress that has been made. Today we meet to discuss legal and policy frameworks and their implementation; a decade ago, in many parts of the world, we were still focused on advocating for recognition of the problem and for adoption of such frameworks.


Mr. Chair,

IOM’s decades of experience working with migrants has taught IOM quite a lot about the real, on-the-ground challenges in implementing policies, especially those aimed at protection and assistance of victims of trafficking. Today, I would like to make recommendations in three areas:

First, those engaged in these topics need to step up our work with governments and civil society to better identify and protect victims. It is crucial to provide protection and assistance to those vulnerable to violence, exploitation, and abuse, including female migrant workers. IOM continues to work with its governmental and NGO partners, delivering interventions including safe accommodation, medical and psychosocial support, legal aid, and assisted voluntary return and reintegration. Since the mid-1990s, IOM has provided protection and assistance services to over 100,000 victims of trafficking, half of whom were women, and nearly a quarter of whom were girls. In the period 2016-2018, women and girls trafficked for forced labour accounted for 30% of IOM’s caseload.

Second, high quality data looking at the association between migration and gender is needed. Gender-responsive data on migration have potential to promote greater equality and offer opportunities for disadvantaged groups. IOM launched the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC) in 2017, in partnership with Polaris and Liberty Shared. It is the world’s first global data portal on human trafficking with primary data contributed by organizations around the world and contains public data on human trafficking disaggregated by gender and age. Furthermore, IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix collects and analyses facts and trends that provides devise solutions to challenges unique to women and girls on the move.

Third, we must try much harder to mobilize consumers and private sector actors to prevent exploitation from occurring in the first place. The gendered nature of the linkage between migration and labour must not be overlooked. To achieve this, we need to address these capacity needs of partners. In order to strengthen businesses’ capacity to protect migrants’ labour and human rights, IOM launched “Remediation Guidelines for Victims of Exploitation in Extended Mineral Supply Chains”. Aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. IOM’s guidelines provide a 6-step operational process which companies can take when they identify victims of exploitation. 

Mr. Chair,

In conclusion, IOM firmly believes achieving gender parity, the empowerment of women and girls and protection of their rights, must be at the heart of all international policy commitments, as the cornerstone for addressing all forms of violence against women and girls, including human trafficking. The Global Compact on Migration provides a roadmap for how we may move forward collectively, and IOM looks forward to working in close coordination with the other members of the UN Network on Migration to address the issue.

Let me close by reiterating IOM’s deep commitment in addressing gender constraints that prevent women and girls on the move from fully realizing their productive potential, in order to truly achieve “leaving no one behind”.