(Addis Ababa, Ethiopia): The inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in collaborated with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) organised a Regional Workshop on Gender Dimension of Labour Migration, today, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The objective of the three days’ workshop is to enhance the knowledge and capacity of experts from the relevant Ministries of IGAD Member States to understand the intersection between gender and labour migration: And, more specifically, drawing on the findings and recommendations of the study on the situation of women migrant workers in the IGAD region.

Speaking, on behalf of the IGAD Executive Secretary, Workneh Gebeyehu (PhD), Director for Health and Social Development Division, Mme Fathia Alwan disclosed that women migrant workers from the IGAD region are vulnerable to right abuses, lack of protection, earning low wage and working in poor working environment.

“Recent studies on Labour migration in our region have shown that there is rapidly growing participation of women in the labour migration industry mainly to the Middle East Countries” she added.

She stressed that IGAD has Gender Strategy that guides the overall works towards ensuring women rights, equal participation, access to economic gain and political participation and working towards the development of harmonised policy instruments in the IGAD region.

“However, the labour mobility within and beyond the region is challenged by irregular migration, inadequate Labour governance, absence of labour migration data and limited ratification and implementation of international standards, which in a nutshell contribute to right abuses and violation of migrant workers special of women at countries of transit and destinations.” The Director said.

Representative of the Republic of the Sudan, Chairs of IGAD Mr. Salah Mohamed, underscore the timeliness of discussing and agreeing on the gender dimension of labour migration. He also indicated that the Republic of the Sudan is ready to ratify the conventions and developed strategy to support women migrant workers.

In her opening remarks, State Minister for the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic Ethiopia, Ms. Ayelech Eshete highlighted the increasing number of women and young girls in labour migration industry and recognise the sizable amount of remittances sent back home by the migrant workers specially women which is playing a substantive role in improving the socio-economic conditions of families.

“We are commending the regional Bilateral Labour agreement guideline developed by IGAD member States and called for the better collaboration and coordination among labour sending countries.”  She stated

During the opening of the workshop, Kidist Chala, ILO representative, called all the Member States to ratify and implement important conventions related to labour migration and migrant workers. She also indicated that IGAD and ILO are jointly working to improve the working conditions for Labour migrant workers from the IGAD region at countries or origin and destination.

She indicated that 30% of Labour Migrants from IGAD region are constituted by women and girls and gender is mainstreamed in ILO’s work to improve the working environment for Labour migrants.

Mr. William Awira representative of Horn of Africa Confederation of Trade Union (HACTU) underscores the importance of ensuring the welfare of migrant workers beyond enjoying the remittances they sent back home.

“It is also important to work towards improving the social protection of migrant workers and undertake regular monitoring on the welfare of migrant workers abroad.”  He added.

Mr. Dawit Moges, Secretary General for the Confederation of IGAD Employers, indicated that the employers need effective and efficient work forces and conducive work environment for the employee and expressed readiness to work hand in hand with government and workers.

The workshop seeks to build the capacity of experts to analyses and understand international labour migration trends, challenges and opportunities from a gender perspective; conduct gender analysis in the field of labour migration and identify and address basic and strategic needs and decent work deficits and protection risks faced by women migrant workers throughout the migration cycle.

Experts drawn from government line ministries, trade unions and employers’ organisations from each of the IGAD Member States and IGAD secretariat are participating on the workshop.

The workshop is organised with the financial support received from the European Union under Free Movement of Persons and Transhumance (FMPT) project.

The expected outcome of the workshop includes improved knowledge and understanding of the participants about the gender dimension of labour migration and basic knowledge and skills to conduct gender analysis on labour migration acquired and also better understanding about basic and strategic needs of women migrant workers as well as policy and practical options to address them as well as study on the situation of women migrant workers in the IGAD region validated.

In recognition of the importance of promoting regular Labour migration and effective governance, IGAD Member States have adopted a Declaration on Labour, Employment and Labour Migration in October 2021, which is a very bold political step to realise effective labour migration in the region.  In this Declaration, Promotion of Gender equity and equality in the Labour migration is one of the seven Pillars.

Apart from the declaration, IGAD Protocol on Free Movement of Persons adopted in February 2020 has also provisions to promote Labour migration in the region including Right to Self-Employment and Economic Activity, Right to Work and harmonisation of qualifications and skills.

Source: Intergovernmental Authority on Development

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