Statement by IOM Office to the United Nations Director, Mr. Ashraf El Nour at a Side Event to the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62), Fostering Hope for Rural Women and Girls

Published Date: 
Monday, March 19, 2018

"Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here with you all today in the margins of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)’s annual meeting in New York. I am grateful to the Women’s Federation for World Peace for inviting IOM to deliver opening remarks at this important side-event, and I am pleased to set the scene on the topic of interlinkages between migration, integration and education. 

I would like to start by acknowledging how the CSW is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping up global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women. This side event in particular seeks to Foster Hope for Rural Women and Girls through Integration and Education at a critical time when we are seeing increased numbers of people on the move. 

We live in an interconnected world, and we have seen that the number of international migrants has continued to grow rapidly almost everywhere, reaching 258 million in 2017. To give you an idea of the pace of the growth it is interesting to note that the number of international migrants in 2015 was 244 million, in 2010 was 220 million and 173 million in the year 2000. 

It is also true to say that more people move within the same region than across regions, and with many of them moving within the country from rural to urban areas. This important dimension should be captured especially as people’s movement and rural development are closely interlinked, it is therefore crucial to bring a migration perspective in our discussion on rural development.

This should also take into account that women comprise slightly less than half of all international migrants (48 per cent in 2017). Rural women make up over a quarter of the world population and the majority of the 43 per cent of women in the global agricultural labour force. Women in rural areas, whether they decide to migrate or stay behind as family members of male migrants, are confronted with very specific hardships that both migration and development policy debates need to address to make migration work for rural women and benefit society.

This is particularly important for rural women who play significant roles in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially when it comes to improving agricultural output and ensuring food security for all. As such, women’s contributions to food security and to the efficient management of productive agricultural and natural resources must be recognized.

Rural women contribute immensely to alleviating hunger and boosting their communities’ ability to cope with the effects of climate change, land degradation and displacement. Women must be given opportunities to own land and their voices must be heard.

Integration on the other hand, is key to comprehensive and effective migration-management approaches. Successful integration is essential for all stakeholders, not only in terms of the benefits gained from migration, but also for the well-being of migrants and their security, stability, social harmony and prosperity of society as a whole. 

Education is one key element of integration, providing opportunities to women and girls and contributing to effective integration policies. As we know, women play many roles - caretakers, farmers, educators and entrepreneurs. Throughout history, the central role of women in society has ensured the stability, progress and long-term development of nations. 

Finally, we should all not lose sight of our obligation to development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  

The 2030 Development Agenda recognizes the positive contributions of migrants and that migration is a human reality of greater relevance to development. Target 10.7, specifically, calls on UN Member States to develop well-planned migration policies to facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration.

Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls specifically for achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls. By working together and investing in the education and integration of girls and women today, we are directly investing in a better future for all. 

I thank again the Women’s Federation for World Peace for organizing today’s event in hope that it raises awareness about the challenges rural women face and that today’s event fosters dialogue and partnerships for future action. 

IOM’s vision is for a world in which migrants of all age and genders move as a matter of genuine choice and not desperate necessity, in which the rights of migrants are protected throughout their migratory cycle, and in which migration is well-governed so it is a positive force for all the world’s peoples and societies. Thank you"