Review Migration Policies and Process Through Gender Lens

All development work and government policies should be audited through the gender lens, since female migrants face different challenges and problems than male migrants throughout the whole process. Whenever any development initiative fails to take the gender need into account that makes the whole initiative questionable in terms of holistic approach, especially for such a crucial issue as migration.

Gender blindness worsens the already underdeveloped migration policies and programs for female migrants. In general, people who aspire to migrate to another country are from the poor socioeconomic cluster of the society having lesser access to basic needs of life. This scenario is even worse when it comes to women as who are most vulnerable among the vulnerables. Therefore, with the rise of Bangladeshi women looking for overseas employment opportunities, the urgency of amending policies and process of migration keeping the gender inclusivity as priority is clear.

In such context, to understand the migration related problems and plausible suggestions from gender perspective, IID organized a Policy Forum for the second time at Kalia upazila of Norail District on February 15, 2018. The Policy Forum was organized in partnership with ‘Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association (BOMSA)’, as a part of IID’s policy advocacy initiative to promote fairer labour migration through PROKAS project of the British Council.

Women participants of the forum talked about how they face trouble in different stages of the migration process. For example, the first hindrance they face is from family. Family does not cooperate until there is financial crisis and the male members of the household somehow cannot work hard to meet the both ends. Women are dependent on male family members or relatives or sometimes even the middlemen in every steps of the migration process, such as applying for passport, visa, medical test and so on.

One woman mentioned about the importance of skill development training. It helps to get an initial training on the language of the destination country. Training on skills other than domestic help, for example tailoring, cleaning and nursing could widen the horizon of new job opportunity for the migrant women.  Suggestions came to seek help from embassy of Bangladesh rather than taking support from any other source in case of any harassment or trouble faced in the destination countries.  As mobility of rural women is mostly confined within the neighbuorhood, government and other agencies should actively reach them to make all the information accessible.

The forum was consisting of exclusively women participants of the community- who are returnee migrants, aspirant migrants and female members of the migrant families. To make women comfortable to discuss about sensitive issues, male team members left the room and female moderators conducted the session.

In the coming days, IID envisions to advocate for gender sensitive migration policies.

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